News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Friday, March 6, 2009

An open letter to Socialtoo about removing auto DMs

[AN UPDATE: I should note that hours after posting this open letter, Socialtoo chose to blacklist me as auto DM spammer. After a heated Twittersphere debate lasting roughly 24 hours, I was removed from this pariahs list. I want to thank the many Tweeple who came to my defense. There are many genuinely decent and fair-minded folks who saw through Socialto's petty and vindicitve act. However, the incident is an example of the conflicting interests on Twitter. It is a space being overrun by abusers who are indicriminately following anyone to amass large audiences. Unless Twitter ends automated follows and unfollows, the only people left on Twitter will be Multi-Level-Marketers and self-proclaimed Social Media "experts." It's time for people to take back Twitter from the social media whores who are polluting it.]

Original Blog Post:

Socialtoo, a Twitter application provider, recently discontinued the ability for its users to send an automated message to new followers. This apparently came in reaction to pressure from users complaining about the inconvenience and impersonal nature of these messages.

Personally, I am not offended by “auto DMs” and switched to a provider who offered them, Tweet Later. I was surprised -- and very impressed -- to receive this note from Socialtoo CEO Jesse Stay:

Raul, I've deleted your account. Can I sway you away from automatically DMing your followers? Most people ignore those nowadays, and those that don't get very annoyed by them. We actually disabled this service for that reason.

Beyond auto-reply, what other needs would we need to cover to get you back?

Jesse Stay

Here is my reply to Mr. Stay.

Thanks for your offer, Jesse.

I am not a person who believes in one-size-fits-all solutions. If people are genuinely annoyed by auto DMs, they have a simple option: Do not follow the person who sent it. However, the social media whores who indiscriminately gather followers are ones most “offended” by auto DMs. Why? Because their message boxes are filled with auto DMs from the thousands of other SMWs monopolizing Twitter. I’ve noticed no one is launching any “holier than thou” campaigns to do away with auto-follows and unfollows, which are truly much more indiscriminate and impersonal.

I prefer to think of auto DMs like an answering machine. If you try to contact me and I’m not home, as a courtesy I’d like to leave you a message to engage in real dialog. I think this is the way the auto DM function was intended. That is how I want to use it … as a courtesy and an invitation to get acquainted.

For the record, here is my auto DM message: “Hello! I am not online all day and use this auto reply as my answering machine. I will return your personal message.”

Socialtoo has chosen to respond to what you perceive as market pressure. I am choosing to go with another service. If you ever change your policy, I will return. Frankly, your user interface is better than Tweet Later. But they provide a service I value.

Thanks for the chance to engage in this personal dialog.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez