Image via CrunchBaseAny form of automated messaging has the potential to be spam. Most of it fulfills that potential extremely well.
For example. At the weekend I was followed by someone on twitter. I got my email alert (a lowest common denominator one from twitter, which the guys are working to make more bespoke through displaying follower counts etc... but still a way to go).
Anyway, the person looked like they were interested in the same things I was. Follower/followed count was pretty even - usually a good sign. The recent tweets looked human and interesting enough.
So I followed back.
And then they let themselves down.
With an automated direct message back to me.
It said something like: "Jeez, I'm just so busy with all these new followers at the moment I can only send you this (poxy - my addition) automated tweet. Sorry and that."
Hang on a minute mate. You followed me! If you're too bloody busy to have a conversation with me don't bother following me. Simple.
Maybe they are hoping that at some point in the future they will have time to have a conversation with me. I'm sure they will.
And that's really the point about lowest common denominator messages. The automated, one press-release-style-email-fits-all approach creates not contact, but resentment.
I said this in the previous post on this blog, but I think it's worth reiterating: When your purpose is to communicate with humans, don't massage the humanity out of your communications.
Automated Direct Messages have no place on twitter as far as I can see. If you get one, you have discovered someone who likely also wants to use you as a channel.
Lowest common denominator (one-size-fits-all) messaging = broadcast = spam = inappropriate for twitter - or any form of peer-to-peer activity.
I hereby urge twitter to make a stand on this - and ban automated DM messages.
Perhaps we could start with a #banautodm hashtag. Your suggestions very welcome