WelcomeThem.com Review – Easy Way to Auto DM on Twitter
If you’ve read any of my other blog posts for other sites, you know I’m generally quite cautious when it comes to automation on social media. It’s a tricky thing to get right, and I generally urge newbies to err on the side of caution. Overuse of automation can lead to alienating fans, to suspended accounts, and to tarnished reputations.
However, this particular blog leans more heavily pro-automation, and as such I’m going to recommend it a little more heavily than I otherwise might. In this case, I’m talking about a form of Twitter automation that is generally not considered a great idea, but when done very carefully and very well, can being added value to your account.
I’m talking, as you might expect, about automatic welcome DMs on Twitter.
Now, the auto-DM is a tricky subject. It’s not against the rules on Twitter to do it. It’s actually a fairly common practice, particularly among small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. It’s one of those techniques that, when used properly, can be beneficial. However, it’s also one of those techniques where a few people use it properly and a lot of people don’t.
Think of it like a website pop-up. Some sites use pop-ups responsibly to add value to their site. However, public perception of pop-ups is largely negative, due to the huge amount of spam and abuse they were used for before browsers started regularly blocking them. If you’re designing a new website and you want to use pop-ups, you can, but you have to be aware of how they’ve been abused and you have to stay on the “good side” of audience perception.
The Risks of Automatic DMs
Let’s start with the primary concern most people have when they’re new to the entire idea of Twitter automation and automatic messaging. Can you lose your account?
The answer is a qualified no. I have never heard of someone losing their account through a ban or suspension due to automatic DMs. That said, it’s possible that you could put your account at risk if you’re sending a large volume of automatic messaging on a constant basis. Twitter is not meant for a daily DM newsletter. Widespread messaging like that would be reported as spam, and enough reports of spam will get your account suspended. That said, you have to be sending a lot of messages very frequently to incur that kind of penalty, and you’ll probably get a warning before you get a ban.
The primary risk of sending automatic DMs to welcome new followers is that many people on Twitter just don’t like that kind of messaging. A lot of people get very few DMs, or just don’t want brand messaging in a messaging channel they use for private conversations. They follow a brand because they want to see organic content in their feed, not because they want a commercial in their inbox.
This is somewhat balanced out by the number of people who actually do read and engage with welcome messages. You might alienate some people, but you’ll attract further engagement from others.
The question you have to find out for yourself is whether or not it’s effective within your specific audience. My audience might hate automatic DMs, and I could lose followers if I tried it, while you would gain them. It’s impossible to say without experimentation. Since you can potentially lose followers, a lot of authorities recommend avoiding sending welcome DMs at all.
How to Properly Send a Welcome DM
If you’re going to use an automatic welcome DM, I have a few tips for you.
First of all, the number one thing people hate is when the message they receive looks and feels automatic. As such, you need to do everything you can to avoid that bot feeling. This can mean the content of your message and the timing of it. Obviously, if I follow someone and am immediately greeted with a DM, I’m pretty certain it’s a bot message, especially if I’m following them at 4am. You can never 100% escape the bot designation, so you just need to make it a useful message. That plays into the second point.
Secondly, you should strive to provide some kind of value. I don’t mean “value” that is technically value to a user but is really just value to your brand. What do I mean by that? Ebooks, store coupons, links to your other social media profiles. Yes, technically, giving me your ebook for free or a 10% discount on my next shopping trip at your store is value for me, but they’re really just value for you. I can save 100% on my next shopping trip at your store by just not shopping, after all.
It’s just a transparent form of marketing that has become so common that the value it has is perceived as virtually nothing. Your ebook could be amazing, but if everyone sends out a book with a follow, why is anyone going to read yours?
Of course, this changes if circumstances are a little different. If you’re a musician and you put a welcome message that is a free song download, maybe fans of your music will appreciate it. If you’re a write and you send out an ebook of one of your published novels, that’s a value to someone who is following you because they like your work. The only downside here is that if you add or change that offer, your existing followers are left out. That means you need to make the free item available to them as well, which means it isn’t contingent on a follow, which means it’s not actually valuable as a follow greeting.
It’s a dilemma for sure, and it’s why I recommend this third tip.
Third, avoid making your message overt marketing. A welcome message of “hey, thanks for following, now check out our storefront on Amazon, here’s a link” with an affiliate link attached is just a spammy commercial in the DM box, and it’s going to get ignored. I’ve personally never interacted with these kinds of messages and I think they’re the ones that hurt auto-DMs as a whole concept.
A more appropriate message would be a very simple greeting. Just say something like “hey, thanks for following. I’m curious though; how did you find me?” It’s not marketing, it’s not trying to push some non-value “value” to the user, it’s not a call to action. It’s just a simple question that could come from any humble small entrepreneur or business. Plus it gives you information about the marketing channels that are working, if the user chooses to respond.
On With The Review
So, all of the above was basically just a gigantic preamble about the concept of automatic DMs. This post is meant to be a review of an auto-DM service, after all. And what a service it is, right guys?
WelcomeThem is a pretty basic, solid app that does what it says on the tin without a whole lot of additional clutter. It has a few drawbacks, but I’ll cover those in a bit.
First of all, let’s talk about what it does. WelcomeThem allows you to link your Twitter account and then configure per-account actions. In the account settings, you can create messages with various forms of minor spinning and parameter-based information. For example, one message can have several variations divided with a | for spintax; only one is chosen when a new user follows. You can use parameters like <fname> and <lname>, o ryou can use @<screen_name> to plug in the user’s screen name instead. This allows you a lot of customization for the messages.
Each account can have several different possible messages as well. You can have one message with several spins, and another with no spins. Only one can be active at a time, I think, though I’m not certain what happens if you try to start more than one. You can also choose for each message to be sent via DM or via a public tweet, or both. I don’t know why you would ever do both, and the public tweet option makes it even more obviously a bot, but for some uses it could be useful. The primary use case I can think of is for public responses to customer service on a CS-focused account, but that’s a narrow niche case.
There are two important settings WelcomeThem has that are crucial to successful operation. The first is “send DM to only new followers”, which means people who follow, unfollow, and follow again won’t get a second copy of the message. It helps prevent people fishing to see if you’re using a bot to call you out, and should always be enabled.
The second is to set activity hours. You know how I mentioned people hate how obvious a bot can be when that bot is sending them personalized DMs with instant response times at 4am? Well, set up hours of operation and you get rid of that problem. People who follow you outside of the hours when you wouldn’t reasonably be around to respond simply won’t get a welcome message. You might lose a bit of engagement, but you make up for it in impression.
All of this I like. Now let’s talk about the drawbacks.
First of all, there’s the drawback of their examples in their screenshots and tutorials. They’re all “thanks for the follow, have you visited my site yet?” kinds of messages that, well, fall into the checklist of What Not To Do.
I understand that they do this to attract the people who already want to auto-message their ebook link around, but man, it’s just hard to fight against bad practices when app companies promote those bad practices to increase their own bottom lines.
Secondly, there’s the pricing. Well, more specifically, the drawback of their free plan.
First of all, you have their basic plan, which is completely free. It’s almost perfect for small businesses, brands, and individuals. It works for up to 100 new follower messages and tweets per day, each. It only allows you to link one single Twitter account, which is fine. However, it’s not white label. They add their branding to tweets and DMs sent out, which is as good as raising a giant “send via bot” flag that tanks engagement rates.
If you want white label messages, you can get up to 500 tweets and DMs each for one single Twitter account for $10 per month on their newcomer plan. This is ideal for most people; very few accounts get more than 500 new followers per day, so this works quite well.
The remaining plans are aimed at people who have more than one Twitter account they want to manage at a time. The traffic and authority plans still have the 500 message limits and white label messaging, but they allow up to three and five twitter accounts each, respectively. Traffic is a $28 per month plan, while authority is $45 per month.
All told, the pricing is quite reasonable for what it does. It’s not filled with superfluous features or analytics, it’s not really violating any rules or best practices, and it only has a bit of a drawback with recommending some less than ideal messaging. Plus, the app is made by a trusted app creator, it’s secure, and it does what it claims to do. As long as you’re careful about how you use it, I can’t really complain about the app itself.