Does Your Social Media Strategy include Twitter Direct Messages?

by Sherryl Perry on March 20, 2013

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In my Time to Tweak Your Twitter Strategy article, I asked what strategy people were following for thanking people when they tweeted or re-tweeted your blog posts. I had read a couple of articles where bloggers had touted the value of not thanking them.  Instead of thanking them, the suggestion was to re-tweet something of theirs. There was a lively discussion in the comment section but what surprised me the most was the number of people who send direct messages on Twitter. So, my question to you is, how do you feel about Twitter direct messages?

My View of Twitter Direct Messages

Personally, the DM folder of my Twitter account is basically the dead letter mailbox to me. I rarely check it because it’s a catch all for spam. It’s seldom that I get any real email and I don’t communicate that way. (I apologize if you’ve ever tried to connect with me via Twitter DMs and you never heard back.) On the other hand, LinkedIn and my contact form here are the two best ways to hear back from me as soon as possible.

When I reviewed my 20 most recent DMs, I found that 19 of the 20 were thanks for following messages. The 20th person didn’t even thank me. Their DM was “Here’s how to make $300 a day with ZERO Investment.” Every DM with the exception of one included a link for me to do something. Granted, 2 of them were links to connect on LinkedIn and 1 to like them on Facebook but that is not the way to invite someone to connect. What’s social about an automated message to like, follow or connect with someone?

What Was Said About Direct Messages

Not everyone has the same negative experience with direct messages on Twitter that I do.  Here are a few examples from the comments on my Twitter strategy post:

Comment on Time to Tweak your Twitter Strategy post

I’d be interested in knowing how Mario creates a bond with his followers using direct messages on Twitter. I think it’s safe to assume that he isn’t sending automated impersonal messages.

Comment by Jeannette Paladino regarding Twitter DMs

I’m curious why Jeannette receives so little spam. She has a follow/follower ratio similar to mine. However I tweet over 5 times as often. Does the frequency that I tweet encourage spam? Is there a correlation between the number of followers you have and the amount of spam that you receive?

Twitter Direct Messages to Sell

Karen appears to be in the same camp as I am when it comes to DMs on Twitter. (I guess it’s not a good idea to try to connect with either of us in this medium.) BTW – Karen has almost 6 times as many followers than I do which supports the assumption that the more followers you have, the more spam you will receive.

What Do You Think?

Actually, that quick look at DMs got me thinking. Why would I want to be associated with anyone trying to hawk ZERO investment scams? Instead of rewarding spammers by following their links, I just unfollowed both of the individuals who sent me the most flagrant self-promoting messages. (So, those DMs totally misfired for them.) I don’t want to be associated with them.

What are your thoughts? Do you use Twitter direct messages as part of your social media strategy? Do you view DMs as a legitimate method of communicating or do you not use it at all?

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Silviu
Twitter:
May 17, 2013 at 11:59 am

Hi,

1. I rarely use DM. In the beginning I used them a lot. Then one day I said “thank you” to a follower of mine then checked him. It was a fake account. I said “thank you” to a “ghost”. I was so embarrassed and pissed of that I decided to quit using DMs for good. Now I’m only sending DMs when I’m followed by a real person that I like and respect very much.

2. I’m sorry to inform you about the fact that your Commentluv plugin is not working properly. It says “Tweet to have more post to choose from”. Then it opens another window (another window !?!) and after I tweet the post it remains there. If I click “Return to previous site” or “Return to keepuptheweb” it takes me back to this post but, it doesn’t open the list of 10 posts. I tried this Tweet link 2 times but it didn’t work.
The +1 link doesn’t work at all.
The only link that works is Facebook. I clicked Like and the the list of posts became available and yes, I was able to choose one from those 10.
Silviu recently posted..Fake Twitter Followers Can Hurt Your BusinessMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry May 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm

I’m so sorry that you had problems with my CommentLuv plugin. (Thanks for letting me know.) Other people have been leaving links today and I don’t require anyone to share my posts to get a do-follow link. So, it may have been some sort of glitch. Actually, I had been on vacation and at one point when I took a peek at my site, it wasn’t displaying correctly. (It looked like the mobile version.) Hopefully, everything has settled down now.

I can relate to thanking a fake account. I’ve actually left thoughtful replies to spammers here in my comment section. It is sort of embarrassing but hopefully I’m getting better at that. Thanks for taking the time to comment
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Friday Finds for Weekend Reading – Google Penguin 2.0 UpdatesMy Profile

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Joseph
Twitter:
May 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Hello Sherryl,

This is my second comment on your website. =)

I didn’t know that twitter direct messages has an important role in social media marketing. What I thought at first was if you have more followers, you can get more referral traffic. But What I realized is the followers don’t matter if you don’t get their attention. Thanks for sharing your social media strategy Sherryl!
Joseph recently posted..Keyword research: How to analyze your Target Keywords?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry May 19, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Hi Joseph,
Thanks for joining in the conversation. Lots of readers here enjoy the comment section. I always say that we can all learn from each other. :)

BTW – I just followed you on Twitter, scheduled a tweet of your article and I’m leaving you a comment. (Sorry for the late reply but I took a much needed vacation.)
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Friday Finds for Weekend Reading – Google Penguin 2.0 UpdatesMy Profile

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Joseph
Twitter:
May 19, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Yes Sherryl, That’s what I really love about commenting.. We can also meet other people and establish a good online relationship to increase our contacts. I followed you back Sherryl..

BTW, I sent you an email a month ago.. Did you receive the mail?
Joseph recently posted..Link Acquisition: What You Need to Know?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry May 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm

I’m not sure that I did receive your email Joseph. I am so far behind on emails. I’ll look for it. It rarely takes me more than a few days to reply (other than the last week and a half while I’ve been away). If you have access to it and would be kind enough to send it again, that would be great. I’m even further behind catching up now than when I left!

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Eric Mortenson
Twitter:
April 27, 2013 at 7:23 am

I don’t really receive spam in my direct message inbox. I also don’t follow people as a way to thank or them or because they followed me. I follow them if I am interested in hearing tweets similar to (and at about the same frequency as) what is in their history. Simple.

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Eric Mortenson
Twitter:
April 27, 2013 at 7:38 am

…I should have also mentioned the fact that you can only receive DMs from people that you follow. So why are you following people that spam you? And if they do, just unfollow and they will never DM you again.

Interestingly, I get plenty of “spam” on LinkedIn–recruiters or folks that I don’t recognize, though payment may have had some prior connection.

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Sherryl Perry April 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Eric,
I don’t follow someone back simply because they follow me either. I always check out things like whether or not they have tweeted enough to deserve the number of followers that they have. I also check out their recent tweets. No matter how hard I try though, it seems I always end up with useless DMs like follow me on FB or check out my site. Some people may not think that’s spam but that’s how I look at it. If I’ve just met someone, what makes them think that I’m going to run around and connect with them elsewhere? They need to earn that.

Surprisingly, I get very little spam on LinkedIn.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Friday Finds for Weekend Reading – WP Security & Best Website AwardsMy Profile

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Keral Patel
Twitter:
April 22, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I used to use it way back when twitter was much younger. Nowadays it is quite a mess to even find good followers whom I would like to send a direct message. Spamming them is totally another story but then I am using same amount of time in other better purposes.
Keral Patel recently posted..Top Questions To Ask Before Hiring A WebmasterMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry April 22, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I’m with you on this issue Keral. I believe its a waste of time to deal with DMs. I have to confess that I’ve missed messages on Facebook too. The only social network messages that I pay attention to are on LinkedIn.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Friday Finds for Weekend Reading – Week 1My Profile

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Dee April 12, 2013 at 6:08 am

Hi Sherryl,

In my experience there are a lot of bad vibes about direct messaging simply because of the amount of spam, viruses and auto-replies that make the genuine messages hard to find. While as marketers we can’t do much about the first two, we can certainly think carefully about direct messages. DMs such as “Cheers, now go like my Facebook page” or “Click here for your fantastic gift” are an annoyance at best!

Dee

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Sherryl Perry April 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm

“Annoyance at best” – I totally agree Dee. It’s really a shame that direct messages were so quickly abused. They could have come in handy.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Do NOT Delete Your Google FeedBurner RSS Feed Migrate ItMy Profile

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Just One Boomer (Suzanne)
Twitter:
March 28, 2013 at 12:35 am

I’m a Twitter Luddite — but at least I have a Twitter account and with only 115 followers, I’m not drowning in DM’s. Maybe it would be a good problem to have someday.
;-) Or not.
Just One Boomer (Suzanne) recently posted..Philadelphia Phriday* — Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal MarketMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry March 28, 2013 at 11:16 am

“Maybe it would be a good problem to have someday.” – That’s funny Suzanne but I know how you feel. :) It takes time to build a quality following but it’s also a very smart way of doing it.

BTW – Thanks for introducing me to a new word. (I had to look Luddite up.) Can I offer you a suggestion? I know you’re serious about networking online because we’re in the BHB group together (Bloggers Helping Bloggers on LinkedIn). I think it would be a really good idea for you to register your email account (the one that you comment with) on Gravatar.com. Upload your profile pic and list the URL of your blog. That way, everyone here will get to see you and they’ll start to recognize you too.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Tips You Should Know When You Start BloggingMy Profile

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Kelly Wade March 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm

I’m not positive about spam, but almost every direct message I get on Twitter after following someone seems like an automated message that says something like “Thanks for following me! Check out my website____” or something similar. Rarely do I ever get someone who actually wants to cultivate a relationship.

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Sherryl Perry March 26, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Kelly,
It’s good to hear that your experience with DMs is similar to mine. I don’t remember the last time I received a DM from someone who wanted to cultivate a relationship with me. (Then again, I rarely read them.) It seems to me that if someone sincerely wants to connect with me through Twitter, they will publicly tweet me a message and those tweets I reciprocate.

Thanks for weighing in on this.

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Corey Will March 25, 2013 at 2:19 pm

As long as someone takes the DM seriously, I will be happy to respond. I never respond to anything spammy or anything that seems like a mass message.

I think it is always important to get personal with people who take the time to reach out to you. Unless I was getting TONS of DM’s, (which I don’t) then I would be glad to answer several per day.

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Sherryl Perry March 26, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Corey,
You make a great point about the importance of being personal with people. I suppose I should be checking my DMs more often than I do just in case someone sends me something important but I really don’t want to increase the amount of time that I spend on Twitter. It’s good for driving traffic but it’s difficult to conduct a meaningful relationship. Rather than spend more time there, I prefer to be active on LinkedIn and spend more of my time commenting on blogs where I’m trying to build awareness.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Does Twitter Drive Traffic to Your Website Blog?My Profile

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Kabie March 25, 2013 at 6:03 am

To your your question, the answer is no.
Just like you, I rarely do check my twitter DM’s.
But this post has open up some broader horizons which I ought to consider greatly.

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Sherryl Perry March 26, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Hi Kabie,
Thanks for letting me know that my article has got you thinking about Twitter.

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Diana
Twitter:
March 25, 2013 at 6:01 am

Interesting post. My twitter handle isn’t popular yet but I have been managing other accounts for clients. Some of them get a lot of spam DMs, others don’t – have not noticed a correlation :-) I also usually thank people who RT my tweets but not via DM – in their feed, and try to further engage them in a conversation. I check DMs regularly but I send DMs ONLY if the other person has asked me to (e.g. send me a DM with more details) or if the other person and I have agreed to let’s say connect via email and I need to give them my email… I don’t want to do that publicly – but I do send a reply with something like ‘check your DMs – I’ve sent you my email address there’. And that’s about all the use of DMs for me :-)

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Sherryl Perry March 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Diana,
It sounds like you put DM’s to good use. Thanks for joining the conversation.

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Geek Girl
Twitter:
March 24, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I rarely use DM. I check it occasionally just in case someone may DM me and need a response. Mostly I ignore them when they do come in. I don’t get much spam, but then I don’t have a large Twitter following yet…

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Sherryl Perry March 24, 2013 at 8:53 pm

It’s good to hear that others aren’t using DMs. At least, you check them occasionally. Thanks for joining the conversation.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Use Facebook Fan Gate to Get New LikesMy Profile

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Jeremy Norton March 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm

I’d rather prefer a retweeting than a direct thank you message that is generic.
Jeremy Norton recently posted..Developing a Strategic Plan for a BusinessMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry March 23, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Jeremy, I think even a public thank you is better than a direct message. When someone sees your Twitter ID in their stream, it helps to build awareness of you.

Thanks for joining the discussion!
Sherryl Perry recently posted..2 Tips on Using Social Media to Get Found OnlineMy Profile

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Sian Phillips
Twitter:
March 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I hate auto direct messages – thankfully I don’t get that many. I also don’t like when someone I don’t really know prefers to chat with me on DM’s when it can just as easily be done openly – that is what twitter is about after all – engaging with people. I mainly use DM’s to chat privately with my close friends and colleagues so it isn’t a dead mailbox – but it’s not there for business. Thanks for sharing on Bizsugar.com

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Sherryl Perry March 22, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Hi Sian,
I wish I didn’t get so many DMs. I think most people who want to communicate with me know how I stand on them. I agree with you that an open conversation is much better.

You’re welcome for the share on BizSugar! That site continues to be a great referral source as well as a site where I recognize a lot of the bloggers who I’m connected with. It’s a great source to discover new content too! (I encourage anyone reading this who wonders what we’re talking about to check it out. It’s free to join too.)

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Jeri
Twitter:
March 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm

I have over 5,300 followers now, and I still little to no spam. An occasional one sneaks through, but maybe one or two a day. I rarely checked DMs for months and months, but I finally got in the habit of doing so. On occasion, someone sends me a DM that contains actual communication rather than a thank-you for following or a buy my book or check out my blog link. I hardly ever send DMs. Twitter is such a public place, so I guess I feel it’s not the right venue for private communication. If I really want info from someone, that’s pretty hard to accomplish with 140 characters or less!
Jeri recently posted..How to Write: Sentence Structure and Styling SentencesMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry March 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm

That’s amazing Jeri. Do consider the thank you for following me as spam or only if they are including a link?

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Jeri
Twitter:
March 22, 2013 at 2:11 pm

If I count the thank you for following, it’s probably still 5-7 a day. It used to be more, but has seemed to dip in the last couple of months.
Jeri recently posted..Author Interview: Albert HendersonMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry March 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Jeri, That’s about the most I get a day. I guess I just have zero tolerance for them. :) Thanks for letting me know.

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Susan Cooper
Twitter:
March 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm

This was interesting. I am still trying to get the hang of tweeter. I do us DM on a very rare occasion. It’s usually to communicate with someone I know. I rarely if ever look at any DM’s from people I don’t know, especially when it’s a call to action to “look at me”. I find it not overly cool. As far and thanking others for tweets, I do a mix of things such as retweeting, favoriteing and then sometimes a TY. I could probably use some training on the… LOL.

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Sherryl Perry March 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm

We all have to find our own rhythm on Twitter Susan. When I make a strategic change (like not thanking people who don’t expect it), I’ll track the date and eventually check the results in my Google Analytics. The problem with that is it’s not scientific. It can give insight but there are so many variables in play. For example, I did change that strategy but at the same time, I slacked off on posting weekly and I relied more heavily on guest posts. So, my referral traffic from Twitter has noticeably dropped but I don’t believe it’s related to not thanking those individuals.

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Susan Cooper
Twitter:
March 25, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Thanks for your thoughts. I’d be interested in your findings. :-)

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Catarina Alexon
Twitter:
March 21, 2013 at 9:25 am

Seems to me we all more or less agree with what you wrote in your article Sherryl.

Sometimes when I get a direct message promoting someone I write one back “Read my international articles..”.

The worst is when someone follows you, you follow them back and then get a thank you for following DM. Come on, didn’t even know the person existed before they followed me:-)
Catarina Alexon recently posted..Could your visual presentations be better?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry March 22, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I like your reply Catarina! I’d be a little concerned that someone might be encouraged to have a conversation with me though. :)

That person who thanked you for following them (as a follow back) is very likely to unfollow you too.

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Ray March 20, 2013 at 11:43 pm

I get some notifications about these from Twitter in my email, but not all of them. I don’t know if my email provider blocks some of them or if Twitter is just overloaded or something. Honestly I rarely look at them though. Most of the time I delete them from my in box as soon as I get them, and I almost never check them on Twitter either. Some of them are just automatic thanks for following types of things, but most of them are junk. I don’t bother sending direct messages to people probably because I don’t like getting them myself.
Ray recently posted..Does Your Website Seem To Be Down More Than Up?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry March 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Hi Ray,
I turned off the email notifications a long time ago. My inbox is cluttered enough without DM notifications.

Thanks for weighing in on this. I’m definitely not alone with my opinion of them. :)

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Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
March 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Sherryl — Interesting that you’ve done a post about DMs in tweets. I can’t get my DM to work anymore. Just keep getting the spinning wheel. I do thank people who have followed me but now do it in their Twitter stream. Most of the time I tell them if I like their Twitter posts or their website which I’ve visited. Just today I received a message from a new follower, followed him back and made a comment on his last post which I found very informative. I guess my POV is that if you do thank someone it’s nice to add value to the conversation if you can.
Jeannette Paladino recently posted..Would You Pay $5 million for a Headline?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry March 20, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Jeannette, I’ve never heard of anyone having trouble with the DMs before. Have you tried signing out of Twitter and back in again? I completely agree with you about having conversations and adding value. I started making a conscious effort to have more conversations on Twitter and it’s finally becoming a habit. There are some really interesting people on there!

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Leora Wenger
Twitter:
March 20, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Someone who recently followed me on Twitter had in their Twitter description “No DMs please.” I thought, wow, isn’t that bold.

I like the idea of choosing whether to tweet something the person tweeted or saying thank you. If the person tweets about Mickey Mouse and Mickey Mouse is not relevant to my readers, I don’t think I’m going to be retweeting. But the person certainly deserves a thank you.

I’ve used DMs when I need to connect with someone by email or in other ways, so yes, I have found them useful. But I’ve experienced the spam versions as well.
Leora Wenger recently posted..Analyze WordPress Load Problems with P3 PluginMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry March 20, 2013 at 10:02 pm

I wouldn’t tweet about Mickey Mouse to my readers either Leora. What I do in that case is RT something relevant that they’ve re-tweeted. If they’ve RT’d for someone who I’m already familiar with, that’s a win-win as I see it. If not and another RT catches my eye, I’ll check it out and possibly RT that. I’ve found some really great bloggers that way. Then of course there are some, I’ll just thank.

I think I DM’d people when I first started on Twitter but my DMs started filling up quickly with spam. I wish there was a spam filter for DM’s. Maybe there is and I just don’t know about it!

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Susan Oakes
Twitter:
March 20, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Hi Sherryl,

I only use DM if I need to contact someone quickly and I know they look at their DMs. These are the types of DMs I received as well. I don’t get much spam and rarely get auto DMs saying thank you for following. Perhaps it is who follow me but my count is lower than yours and I don’t follow that many back.
Susan Oakes recently posted..Why New Customers Are Not BuyingMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry March 20, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Hi Susan,
I have noticed that as the number of followers I have grows, the more spam DMs I get. It could be that I’m following people who are spammy too. I try to not follow people who buy followers etc but occasionally some slip by. I also use the “Fake Following” feature in ManageFlitter to try to weed some of them out.

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Diane Dick
Twitter:
March 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Hi Sheryl
I’ve personally been floundering with Twitter and haven’t done anything with it for sometime, but I’m now finally getting my social media starting to happen and I appreciate reading your comments. I couldn’t help but agree with you 100% on spammers, they are very stupid in their approach and I too do not wish to have a bar of it. I have never tried to use the direct messages with Twitter. As time goes on, I will revisit Twitter, but in the meantime I am focusing my energy on Facebook and Pinterest. Both are new to me. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts Sherryl.

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Sherryl Perry March 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Hi Diane,
Welcome back. :) Pinterest sounds like a good fit for you. Yesterday, I shared a post that I found on MarketingLand.com that shows you how to implement Pinterest’s new analytics tool. If you’re interested, you can read the article here: http://bit.ly/15nuImx.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Top 6 SEO and Social Media How-To Posts of 2012My Profile

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Diane Dick
Twitter:
March 23, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Sherryl, thanks so much for these useful posts. There’s so much to learn, but I just have to remember to do one step at a time and then I will succeed. Oh if all I had to do was work on the internet, it would be easy, but I still have to do my regular business as well!! Still all of this is building me a much sounder business for the future. Thank you.

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Sherryl Perry March 23, 2013 at 6:55 pm

You’re welcome Diane. I totally understand where you are. The Internet can really take up a lot more time than you expect to spend on it – that’s for sure.

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