In this day and age, social media can sometimes have you feeling like you’re screaming into a void. Whether you’re just trying to contribute to a conversation or are trying to promote your work, making your voice heard can be difficult. How can you keep yourself from being drowned out?
Twitter is no exception. It seems some users have found ways to work around this, though they may not be the best. A trend that seems to have been going on for some time is sending out automated messages to new followers. Within moments of following a writer or following them back after they have followed your account, another notification will pop up, this time in your private messages. Your new follower has sent you a greeting, immediately followed by a bit about their newest release or service they offer indie and up-and-coming authors with a special discount just for YOU and a link to their website. That’s it.
This is the point I’ll hit the unfollow button or at the very least mute notifications from this user.
Automated messages like these are prevalent throughout the Writing Community, and it seems to be done purely in the interest of self-promotion.
We hear so often about people “sliding into your DMs,” sometimes with comments about your appearance, are you single?, OMG you won’t BELIEVE the RESULTS of this DETOX DIET DRINK BUY NOW!! etc, and of course the infamous and dreaded dick pic.
I wasn’t prepared for such a frequency of advertisements.
I have been on Twitter for less than a year, creating my account about a week before launching this blog in December 2018. Within a few hours, I had gotten several of these automatic messages. Some from writers sending links to their Amazon profiles or Patreon pages, another with a list of rates for her editing services and how she would “just love” to work with me on my projects.
One of the things I was and still am most interested in as a Twitter user is interacting with other writers, so you can imagine how excited I was to see all of these notifications popping up—and how disheartening to see they were all advertisements.
I’ve since been able to connect with other writers on a more personable level, even feeling like I would call them friends. However, I still get these messages (yes, I have changed my settings so only followers/people I follow can contact me).
At this point in time, I am not able to speak from the perspective from someone who has published anything beyond blog posts. I can, however, understand why one might think it makes sense to set these up. Perhaps for efficiency’s sake, but also often to promote their work.
This brings me to the point of this article: there is a time and a place for promoting your writing or website on Twitter, but a certain level of decorum must come with doing so.
Granted, I do have some applets on a site called IFTTT programmed to post on my Twitter and Facebook with links to new articles when they go live on WordPress (there’s a good chance you followed one to get here), merely for efficiency’s sake because I honestly had trouble remembering to post them myself every week prior to setting this up.
Once an article is live and shared, I leave it be. I’ll respond to comments should there be any, but little beyond that. Perhaps it’s derivative of my own personality in general, not wanting to feel as though I’m shoving my posts in a person’s face—especially when I don’t even know them beyond a username and profile pic.
I’m even hesitant to jump in on Twitter threads asking for links to blogs or author pages where the post’s creator is interested in checking them out and wants to see them.
I’ll own up to that. Sharing more about my ongoing projects and my blog is something I’m working on.
All the same, I do start to take issue when users are so intent on making a sale they neglect to make connections.
This behavior isn’t just limited to private messages.
Some will start this game of following and unfollowing and following me again until I follow them back (this is one of the few reasons I have ever actually blocked someone).
Others have left links to their pages on completely unrelated tweets (imagine User A shares a picture of their toddler proudly showing off a page in a coloring book where they were able to color within the lines and User B comments something like “oh are they reading yet?” while dropping a link to the online homeschool literacy program they run). This one is especially irritating because it shows an intent to promote one’s self by attempting to overshadow the original post. It gives off a vibe of “yeah that’s great but check ME out!”
I have even seen someone tag another user in a public tweet demanding to know why they didn’t follow back. That kind of behavior is enough of an answer in my mind.
In short, it’s rude.
The longer explanation is that it’s the kind of thing that others find anywhere from annoying to even offensive, and that’s putting it mildly. It demonstrates a level of carelessness about your audience. Things such as sending automatically generic messages while praising your own novels, retweeting your own promotional tweets daily (sponsored posts are a different thing, just so we’re clear), and taking to the comments section to market your works without being asked to are likely to give the impression your only interest is in profiting. A commonality I’ve noticed throughout the Writing Community on Twitter is a shared love for the craft and having the ability to make friends in all corners of the world with an endless source of knowledge, advice, and support. This makes the automatic advertisers all the more blatant, and their posts all the more distasteful.
Regardless of if they pursue traditional publication outlets or take an indie route, authors will be tasked with a fair amount of promoting their work. It’s to be expected. Social media sites like Twitter have become such an important platform to utilize. However, these automatic messages can be offputting to some users or give the wrong impression.
The best comparison I can make here is to a door-to-door salesman carting around a set of encyclopedias in a wagon; it’s just that the neighborhood has gotten a whole lot bigger. Uninvited advertising can actually be doing more harm than good for not only your books, but for yourself as an author.