Ready Designs

4 8-bit dragons in a line

Your Tweet Is Important To Us!
3 Reasons Automatic DMs
Are Evil

Communication Concepts

April 13th, 2010

Okay, I’ve got to get this one out there. It’s a bit of a rant and I hope you’ll forgive me for it, but apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way. I run two Twitter accounts of my own and one for my workplace, and if there’s one thing I don’t like (besides neon green backgrounds, spam, and people begging for retweets), it’s getting hit with an auto direct message (DM) when I follow someone. I understand the idea behind it; I get that they’re often trying to show their new follower that, hey, they’re really glad s/he followed. But most of these auto-reply messages leave me feeling played the dupe at best and solicited to at worst. A couple of my favorites:

“Thanks 4 following ;-) Interesting profile, what is 1 thing you LOVE about your life? Here is an amazing FREE ebook on creating great websit”  (Notice four distinct topics ending in a cut-off at the character limit.)

“Hi [username], Want AUTOMATED TARGETED FOLLWERS & autopost,mimic users,DM spam filter,[product name] [website] FREE vers ROCKS!” (DM spam filter? Oh irony!)

Here are three reasons I hate automated direct messages, and three things you should avoid doing to your new followers, whether you auto-DM or not.

1. Hi, I’m Awesome!

These messages are usually full of personal promotion. “Hey, thanks for following, check out my blog and my website and my facebook!” It’s sort of like walking up to someone in a room and being greeted with a barrage of why that person thinks s/he is so awesome – and hey, have I shown you the pictures of my kids? It’s just rude! If I’m interested in your website, I’ll click the link from your profile, or follow a link from one of your tweets about that awesome new blog post you just wrote or the new pictures you added to Facebook from the company picnic. As in any relationship, if you want to make the other person feel valued, show interest in them first and frequently!

Guy Startles Girl with Statements of Personal Awesomeness

[Image Credit]

2. Your Call Is Important to Us!

I’ve tried responding to these auto-DMs, and I’ve never been acknowledged. I’m left feeling about as valued as the customer who’s been transferred twice and on hold for an hour when the message comes on for the 50th time saying “Your call is important to us!” Right, I can tell. Clearly, the hold message is just an attempt to appease irritated customers, not an honest fact. Just as clearly, the direct message was not an overture of friendship, an outreach to strengthen the new social connection; it was nothing more than a marketing ploy. Trust me when I say, most consumers now-a-days know enough to call a pond wet when they see one.

Little Girl Sticks Her Tongue Out After a Phone Call

[Image Credit]

3. Talk to the Hand, ‘Cause the Face Was Never Listening

Twitter is first and foremost a social platform. It requires that you actually be social on it now and again. In most of these cases, an auto-DM is nothing more than a cop out, a way to make your new followers feel important and noticed when in fact you don’t give a monkey’s tail about them. Now I’m a busy professional, and I don’t have time to hang out on Twitter all day, trying to be one of the cool kids; it’s no crime if you don’t either. Most days, I interact as I’m able and schedule a few tweets to post throughout the day, primarily so I won’t slam my followers with an avalanche of content every evening. But there’s the difference: In this case, the content is created with care by me, and the scheduling is done with my followers in mind. In the case of the auto-DM, it’s usually an entirely self-centered act meant to automate the annoying process of actually speaking with people.

Mannequin Tells Other to Talk to the Hand

[Image Credit]

Are Automated Direct Messages Always Evil?

In very specific circumstances auto DMs can add value. Just the other day I followed on Twitter and received an informative DM telling me where to find technical support and explaining that has a separate account. This automatically generated message contained valuable information and didn’t bother me in the slightest. What’s the difference? The message was written entirely with the needs of the follower in mind. It was not a plug for a website. It was not trying to cut corners by providing an artificial welcome. It was not trying to substitute human conversation. In short, it was user-centric, and it was honest.

If you’re one of the rare people who manages to have an automatic direct message set up while avoiding the above pitfalls, more power to you. However, there are plenty of people who will actually un-follow a person immediately if they receive one of the annoying little messages. It smacks of spam and clutters up a person’s email if they have notifications turned on. And really, does anyone like the feeling of let-down when you see a new DM waiting for you only to realize it’s just auto-generated? I suggest we all keep genuine and engage honestly or not at all.

What are your thoughts on automatic direct messages? Have you been greeted by a DM you knew was automated, but that you still appreciated? Do they drive you crazy? Do you yourself use automatic DMs? I would love to hear your opinion and experiences.

Tweeting MIX10: 10 Things I Learned Live-Blogging on Twitter

Communication Concepts

March 19th, 2010

ReadyDesigns 396 TweetsWhen I went to Microsoft MIX10, I thought I would try a little Twitter experiment. I had a virgin Twitter account newly created for my freelance business. It had no followers and no content, so I had nothing to lose by trying something different from the usual “here’s another list of logos” posts I usually find in design-oriented Twitter accounts (well, it’s usually either that or what kind of sandwich the designer had for lunch – not that I mind either one). Since I set up both that and my blog literally just weeks before MIX, I decided to hit the ground running by launching with MIX10 content. My plan was to live-blog the event, but on my Twitter account rather than my blog. I thought it would be a great way to build quality content fast; it’s something that would be relevant and searched, others would find it interesting and useful if they were unable to attend, and I’d be forced to spend a little more time digesting what I was experiencing. What I didn’t realize was that because of the sheer volume of tweets needed to effectively live-blog each session, I would have over 390 tweets at the end of just four days.

It proved to be a valuable experience, if an exhausting one. Along the way, I learned a few things about “live-tweeting” and how to live tweet.

1) Live-Tweeting helped me assimilate the content. Taking notes is helpful for remembering points and concepts, but tweeting every nugget of information actually forced me to digest it more deeply. Communicating a point to someone else (aka teaching) is one of the best ways to cement concepts, as it causes the brain to form deeper and more personal connections than in passive listening or note-taking. Although the communication in this case was rapid and succinct, I  came away with better recall of the sessions than I usually have.

2) Presentations actually distill pretty well into 140 character chunks, although some on-the-fly rewording/reorganizing was necessary. Most presentations are built around bullet points and memorable phrases, lending themselves to display as short snippets of information. However, simply tweeting bullets isn’t always enough to get the speaker’s point across, just as reading a slideshow without the talk usually isn’t very helpful. Sometimes a little creativity is required to provide value, and I felt that  was critical.

Paul Dawson's Presentation at MIX10

[Image Credit]

3) Live-Tweeting kept me in the mix. Since I was on my Twitter account nearly every minute I was at MIX10, I got to be a part of the larger conversations that took place under the #MIX10 tag throughout the conference. This was most entertaining during the big keynote events, when the conversation streamed past in a constant flow of opinions, comments, and informative tweets. I was instantly able to see what others thought was important, funny, or interesting in some way, which is interesting in itself. In addition, I felt like I was part of a much larger community experience, even though I never once during the keynotes themselves turned to comment directly to my neighbors. Later on, I also got to be a part of the very cool Fantastic Tavern Las Vegas event because I saw it being tweeted about.

4) Twitter tools are essential to get the most out of live-tweeting. I used Seesmic throughout most of MIX10, a tool which let me see @mentions, a search feed targeting MIX10, and my own sent messages simultaneously. This saved me from bouncing between tabs or pages to keep up with the bigger conversation, and kept me updated on mentions which I otherwise probably wouldn’t have noticed in time for them to be useful (in fact I did miss a couple on the first day before using Seesmic). I figured that live-tweeting has to be lightning fast to be useful, and there just isn’t time for all that page loading and swapping.

5) Copy-paste is a double edged sword. I used copy-paste to speed up my tweeting time. During each session, I had a notepad file open with the prefix I was using (in the format “#MIX10 Session Name: “) to save typing and keep consistency in my tweets. I usually copy-pasted from my session notes to the file, edited the note into a sensible, 140 character, content-packed tweet, and then copy-pasted that into my Twitter feed. I had one incident, however, when I was posting a list of 10 things which, unfortunately, had about three number sixes and I believe ended with a couple of number eights.

Broken Elmer's Glue Bottle

[Image Credit]

6) I should have suffixed, not prefixed my tweets with the session name. Looking over the tweets from the event, I find them much harder to skim than they otherwise would have been.With such short messages, just the session name (or shortened version) took up the first quarter to third of the tweet. At a quick glance, huge blocks look identical because readers have to scan into the middle of the tweets before they differ.

7) I needed a camera. Unfortunately, the only camera I have is a five year old, 5 mega-pixel digital fossil that not only produces grainy pictures, but utterly fails at wide or distance shots (most of what I would have been photographing). Pictures would have added color and context to the feed. In addition, there were a couple of times when a photograph of a slide would have saved me from losing information forever.

8) People did appreciate it. I was a bit worried that people would see my extreme number of tweets as spam, but the only feedback I received was positive. In fact, one person told me that he was watching one of my session tweets practically on the edge of his seat, wishing he had gone to that one instead. I went from about five spam and a couple of “thanks for following me” followers on day 1 to around 70 legitimately interested folks. It remains to be seen how many of these will stick around now that the event is over.

Hands Applauding

[Image Credit]

9) Live-Tweeting should probably never be done with a primary Twitter account. I’m certain I only received a positive reaction to such thorough live-blogging on Twitter because I had a fresh account with no followers. If I’d had followers to begin with, I’m sure I would have lost them all from the sheer volume of tweets. If I do something like this again, I’ll create a separate account dedicated to live-blogging only.

10) Live-Tweeting is exhausting. Between taking my own notes and keeping live-tweets flowing as close to real-time as I could, I felt like I’d run a marathon after every session. As I mentioned above, I felt that live-tweeting should be as fast as humanly possible, but I was also trying to process and output complicated points. By the end of the day, I was completely mentally worn out.

The long and short of it is, although I had no idea what I was getting into when I started, it was a valuable experience. I hope I’ll have the chance to go to other events soon so I can do it again; it was a lot of fun, kept me involved with the greater conversation, and helped me assimilate the information better than I otherwise would have. Oh yeah, and it won me the MIXrockstar prize, to boot!*

MIX Rockstar Contest

If you’re interested in live-tweeting an event, also check out this article, “How to Live-Tweet an Event” by OldMediaNewTricks for a few more Twitter tips. You can also see the videos of the MIX10 event or visit my Twitter feed.

*If you’re wondering how or why, the MIXrockstar formula took into account number of tweets tagged #MIX10 as well as votes (despite being self-labeled as a popularity contest). Although I never had the intent to win anything, apparently pumping out over 390 relevant tweets in four days was enough to tip the scales in my favor. If it makes you feel any better, it feels weird to me, too.

Did you attend or virtually attend MIX10 and interact with Twitter while there? Have you live-tweeted yourself? Do you have other thoughts to share? I’d love to hear them! Don’t be shy; leave a comment below.

Happy Folks

    • Roxanne is an extremely talented programmer. She is able to take an extremely complex storyboard and turn it into a beautiful website. There is no project too big or too small that she can't handle.

      Rachael Masek, UWF Webspinners

    • I would hire Roxanne for another project anytime I have one and feel confident she would do a tremendous job.

      Rachael Masek, UWF Webspinners

    • Roxanne shows her skills in social media everyday by managing numerous accounts and keeping them updated to attract traffic. She's capable of creating an online presence and keeping it within the tone and attitude the company desires.

      William Kammer, BDI

    • When a concern comes up that she knows about, she's usually suggesting solutions before I even come to her to discuss the problem.

      William Kammer, BDI

    • Roxanne will grasp the bigger picture of any job and is one of those rare species that combines technical skill, creativity and functionality.

      Annelies Draaijer, Raglan Shire

    • [Roxanne] brings along creativity, pro-activeness, enthousiasm, a high level of skill and she will think outside of boxes. She's also a quick learner and a very pleasant person to work with.

      Annelies Draaijer, Raglan Shire

    • Roxanne Rocks! Super quick turnaround, amazing communication and a pleasure to work with. She's the best and I highly recommend her for your website/design needs

      Andrea Morelli, Impetuous Style

Ready Designs on LinkedIn

Flying Green Dragon