Does a Twitter Auto Response Direct Message provide any Business Value?

twitter1Exceptional Outcomes provides business services to many different industries, including those that use email lists as part of their business model. One of the best tools a company has to build their email lists is Twitter. When used right, it allows a company to market themselves, build relationships with potential customers and enhance their credibility all at the same time. We can guess that many social media managers ask themselves if they are doing things “right”. Questions about who should they follow, who should they unfollow and who should they direct message and when.

A common practice of social media managers is setting up an auto response direct message when someone follows their Twitter account. The premise behind its use is to direct the new follower to their email sign up page and bump up both site traffic and email lists. This auto response direct message may be your company’s first impression to the follower from a digital standpoint and in most cases the only direct message that you will ever have with the majority of your followers. If you have been questioning if setting up an auto response DM is worth the time and effort, you aren’t the only one. Take a look around the internet and you will hear folks arguing both sides of the coin. While proponents say that a direct message helps a twitter user stand out from the tens or hundreds of connections a follower may make each day, critics of the practice say that an auto response is not only impersonal but also unappealing.

So for company trying to drive traffic to their websites, what is the definitive answer to the auto responder question? We performed a study to get to the bottom of the matter and we think we have it.

With the help of some of our clients and our own Twitter accounts we monitored the change in both website traffic volume and email acquisitions as auto responder messages were added and removed. We did not account for different verbiage across account messages, nor did we account for other external factors which may affect web traffic – such as changes in SEO strategies, for example. We simply looked the correlation between the number of followers gained in a given day compared to daily web traffic and acquired emails. The study assumed that an auto response would drive traffic on the same day the message went out.

The study concluded that for the participants in this study there was no statistically significant improvement or detriment to web traffic or emails acquired due to using an auto responder message.

The fact that auto responders don’t drive business value in Twitter wasn’t too much of a surprise to any of the social media managers who helped with the study. A few of them cited that they used the DM as a courtesy. In their minds there was no question why someone would follow their accounts. They thought it would be polite to point them to the most effective way of learning more about their company. We beg to differ based on the premise that some social media managers intertwine their feed with newsworthy or entertaining tweets. Also we believe that it is the predefined utility of a company’s twitter feed that makes the follower indifferent to receiving a DM, regardless of how self-promoting or obnoxious it may be perceived.

If you work in the social media space you now know that using an auto response direct message in Twitter doesn’t provide any significant business value. You may be asking yourself what does? What actions can you take in order to make your Twitter feed stand out against the thousands of other businesses in the Twitter universe. We will tackle that in our next blog post on the subject.


Exceptional Outcomes is a business analytics and optimization consulting company that provides analytics services to many different industries. Does your business leverage social media marketing to improve its presence and are interested in helping us with further studies? We compensate our participants though monetary compensation and/or complimentary services. Please send an email to if you would like to be added to our participant list. We always respect the privacy of our clients and study participants.

About Russ Sacks

Russ is the current Managing Director of Exceptional Outcomes. He has over twenty years of experience in the areas of operations research, process excellence and software development. Russ has worked with organizations such as United Technologies, Allied Signal, GM and NASA in implementing computer aided optimization and continuous improvement methods. Russ is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, and has worked in the area of process excellence in both the healthcare and information technology industries. Russ holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Union College, a Master of Science in Management from University of Maryland University College and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Vermont.
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