Dec 072008

On November 28th, I followed Alex Barger (AKA @galaxiecruzin) on Twitter. Immediately I received a direct message from him that said:

“Thanks 4 following. Here is a short video introduction:

So I checked out his video, liked the guy and the idea, and asked him how he did it. He told me, so I did it too a few days later. See my welcome video here.

As you can see, I simply introduce myself and tell people what I do, what my interests are, and what I tweet about.  The feedback I received in the week since has been overwhelmingly positive.  In fact, I went back and counted.  I got 50 positive responses via direct message or reply from Twittter, 4 neutral responses, and 2 negative responses out of the 344 people who clicked on the link.  In addition to that, I’ve been invited to lunch by a social media company, invited to write for a recently launched online magazine with several authors, and invited to record 30-60 second videos on various topics for a well known musical artist’s web site.  Here is some of the praise I received (only public responses included here):

steaner: Pretty cool. When @Hobnox started following @br524 we got a DM with a link to a short introduction video

MikeLizun: Nice touch from @br524 thanks followers with a video tells you a little about him, what he does, what he tweets

cwalcott: @br524 I like your twitter welcome video, I think that’s a really good idea

aneel: well now.. @br524 has a nice “welcome” vid for twitter followers. kinda like that. :)

botchagalupe: Digging the video intro thingy when I follow someone. I need to get one of those… thx @br524

dcw: @br524 just inadvertently gave me a wonderful idea as far as v/blogging goes. Brilliant; utterly brilliant….

MikeyPod: @br524 wow! great idea to do the twitter intro video! nice to meet ya!

ellieeille: Nice idea: @br524 introduces himself to new twitter followers in a 30-second video clip (link in a DM)

martin001: @ellieeille i just followed @br524 because i watched his video you linked up.. i think thats a brilliant idea – might just have to imitate

jstorerj: the other day i asked what you thought of auto-DM’s after a follow. most ppl thought it was a bad practice. @br524‘s is ok

DarinRMcClure: @br524 Nice welcome vid.

HeatherLeson: Wow that is a first! Follow someone and get a video introduction. Masterful usage @br524

Today I got a negative response from @lizstrauss, a highly followed and successful blogger, who asked me to ‘please turn off your auto-responder’.  After a private back and forth, Liz directed me to this post about Twitter Spam, which basically says auto responses demonstrate that you don’t “get it”, and that you’re sending unwanted spam to people in this fashion.  I really have to disagree with this view, particularly in light of all the positive feedback I’ve been receiving about this.  Generally, yes, the auto-response is impersonal, and I rarely click on the links to a person’s blog in those messages.  I really do think the approach I’ve taken is distinctly different, significantly more personal, and a hell of a lot more engaging.

So I’m curious now…those who did not respond after having clicked the link in my auto-response message but did not comment one way or another…did they dislike the introduction?  After all, there are 289 people who saw the video who have not weighed in.  Maybe all this positive feedback is really the minority!

Somehow I doubt it though.  The guy who had the idea originally (as far as I can tell) reports success on several levels, and got similarly positive responses.

For those of you seeing it here for the first time, what do you think?  If you followed me on twitter and got a direct message that said, “Thanks for following! I made you a 30 second Twitter Welcome Video – .  Thanks again…Brian”, would that make you mad?  What about after you watched the video?

Please comment here, I’d really love to get to the bottom of this.

  23 Responses to “Twitter Spam or Welcome Innovation?”

  1. The video was a nice touch, a little different than the standard “clickmyjunk” DMs you tend to get back. I actually did go watch it.

    However, when I receive something that says “I made you a 30 second Twitter Welcome Video “… I assume it was made for ME.. and that’s really what impressed me. I was a bit disillusioned to realize it was a generic video that everyone gets.

    Obviously, however, it didn’t bug me enough to mention it.. but you asked :)

  2. Brian,

    I liked your video. I thought that it provided an opportunity for us to connect in a more meaningful way right away.

    I don’t use an auto-responder. I make a quick decision on whether to return the follow based upon a peek at last few tweets, twitter bio and sometimes a click through on any link offerred in bio.

    But I am thinking about going to an auto-follow, auto-respond so thanks for this post.

    I thank followers with this DM:

    Brian, txs 4 the follow. gift here: reviews: pls join this meme:

    The ebook represents a lot of work on my part. I think it is a useful doc and I share the reviews so that they can be assured of that and will hopefully share their feedback.

    I invite people into the SoCap&Brand series, because I think it is a great, important discussion for the social media, early adoptor types found on twitter to get involved in.

    I have over 600 followers and have had only one complaint so far that was withdrawn after I called them on it.

    But, I am interested in how this thread unfolds.

    I follow Liz and I am happy to have her as a follower.

    In any event, I think the welcome vid is a good idea. Maybe include some sort of value add (like a link to the experience evolving out of this post) in the video to sweeten the link?

  3. I’ve read your post, and the “Thanks For Following, Now Click On My Junk” post. Here’s my thinking.

    Sadly, there’s a hair-thin line between spam, marketing, and unique uses of media to communicate, and sadly, too much of it depends on the audience. Twitter has this gigantically diverse audience (despite the fact that it seems like Twitter is all about “value-add” marketing lately), which will create a distinct variance in reactions to your particular video.

    As a general thing, I figure the marketing/PR types will think DMing them a video link is an awesome idea, because it fits in with their audience profile of information sharing. People who are down with social tech but who don’t necessarily see social tech as the Big New Thing in marketing might see what you’re doing as spam. Everyone in between will assess it in their own way, and respond somewhere on a scale between the two. I think the mistake here is assuming that DMing *everyone* the exact same message and link is a good idea. I’d say it creates more of a personal/direct connection if you somehow customize the message to each person, or, after looking at their tweets, decide if sending a link in a first-time DM would be obnoxious or awesome. Not terribly efficient for a high-follower volume, but it will bode better for relationship building on a 1-to-1 level.

    I do follow you on Twitter, but I don’t remember getting the link to the video — this either speaks the memorability of the link if I did receive it, or your possible decision process on who gets the video, since you followed me first — so I can’t rightly speak to my actual reaction from personal experience. I will say that, if I did receive the link, I may or may not click on it, depending on what the DM actually said. If it said “learn more about me as a person” with a link as opposed to some flavor of “check out my product/service/business/let me sell you something,” then I would think it a more personal touch. Vice versa, I’d see it as spam.

    I would assume that, if a tweeter is sussing out a potential follow, they will go to the potential follow’s Twitter page, look at the tweets, read the profile, and click on the URL listed in the profile to get to know someone better. Perhaps adding the link to the video as your profile link, then mentioning something in the profile text that says “click my profile link to learn more about me” might help as a healthy compromise, if you choose to change your method.

  4. Without having seen your welcome video Brian – I just clicked through to here from your latest tweet after having noticed you had followed me – my first reaction is what you did is good in principle. Video provides more depth than text. Generally we can expect more inter-personal video communications going forward, enabled by easier UI, broadband and the Social Web. So I say you are on the right track.

    Some may not be fussed, but then they do not have to watch your video.


  5. Ok, I’ve now viewed your welcome Video. Looks great to me! Well done.

  6. [...] unknown wrote an interesting post today onBRob On Tech » Blog Archive » Twitter Spam or Welcome Innovation?Here’s a quick excerptAs a general thing, I figure the marketing/PR types will think DMing them a video link is an awesome idea, because it fits in with their audience profile of information sharing. People who are down with social tech but who don’t … [...]

  7. I liked it, better than the usual spam you get like ‘Thanks for following, please check out my website (that usually suck). It’s short, personal and transparent.

    Liked it. Well done.


  8. Which carries more weight today, with things (and people) as they are:
    a) a person cleverly hooks up an auto-responder (once) creates a video (once) and thereafter can let new connections take place un-attended, or
    b) a person who looks at the new connection, checks the profile, checks the blog, maybe bookmarks the blog, maybe reciprocates the Follow, and then maybe takes the time and makes the effort of clicking DM and writing a few authentic words, in the moment.

    To my way of seeing things? A … hands down … easy … no brainer.

    But you’ll find me in the B camp. With no plans of upping stakes any time soon..


    p.s. thanks again for the Follow … really and truly Alfresco has been on my ToDo list for the longest time.

  9. I think it’s great. You’re right on point with Guy Kawasaki’s advice on how he uses SocialToo to auto follow his followers.

    Your video just made it a bit more personal and transparent. I just turned on SocialToo, but it hasn’t been working for me yet, so I have to manually follow.

  10. Hi all, thanks for weighing in. Andrea Hill, thanks for the honest feedback…I’ve decided to at the very least generalize the message in the DM as a result.

    Michael, truth be told, I was taken aback by the sheer volume of links in your DM to me, and didn’t check them out until having seen you mention them (publicly) to other users.

    Andrea Mercado – That’s a very good idea about setting your Twitter profile web link to an introductory video…I’m seriously considering switching to that.

    I have to admit, it does bother me that anyone considers what I’m doing to be spam, even if you are in the minority. What I find interesting is that the dissenters are more influential (as measured by # of twitter followers – in the thousands), though there have been similarly influential people who favor the video introduction as well (@jstorerj for example). Additionally, I’ve had a certain dissenter who was privately seemingly very angry about it, though it is hard to discern tone from flat text on a screen. Still, to think that I caused that disturbs me. Regardless, perhaps the differences lie in the value system of the individuals involved. Many appreciate cleverness over courtesy; others, vice versa.

    Ben, that’s a very insightful take on it. The results show that option (A) does seemingly carry more weight with most people…but making a ‘deep’ connection is more valuable. I’ve experienced it myself…I love that I’ve made real life connections with people I met on Twitter (the online magazine guy).

    I guess what I’m after with this video introduction thing is to differentiate myself a bit from the regular user. When I received a that video welcome, it made an impression on me, and I follow Alex Barger’s tweets regularly as a result. We’ve had good conversations on Twitter, and have a positive connection. If he hadn’t made that video, I’m not sure we would have had those valuable exchanges.

    I’m still mulling this all over, but I’m finding the discussion very interesting. I sincerely thank you all for your comments and insights!

  11. @Brian, I’ve also been using this method to welcome people to the @theworshipcomm twitter community. SO far I’ve only had 1 negative response, but that was in response to the way I shared it on my personal twitter account (@russhutto)

    I sent out a tweet that went something like: twitter tip add an auto-response with a welcome video for a personal touch when new people follow you.

    One person @replied and said something like: it’s not personal if it’s an auto-response…to which I replied, “touche, but the personal touch that I speak of is not necessarily in creating the auto-response and it going out, but in the fact that when people follow and view the video they have a glimpse into who the PERSON behind the twitter account is.” To me that IS a personal touch.

    Anyways, so far it’s been working nicely. I think I implemented it Monday or Tuesday and I also got the idea from the same site you did after doing a search on maximizing twitter or something of the sort.

    Great post.

    My experiment here: Post on Twitter Welcome Vid

  12. If the video had been longer than I would say no go. To the contrary I liked it and immediately thought of how my main Twitter connection @Natuba could use this idea.
    Good Job.

  13. . . . And I like your openness with the comments of the disgruntled among us.

  14. Brian -

    No one ever made a statue for a critic. I wouldn’t worry about those who criticize your approach. I thought it was a nice touch.

    I’ve been accused of sending Twitter Spam, but I don’t worry about it. In fact, the person who was vocal about it actually ALSO sent ME an autoresponse using Social Too.

    I actually use a different autoresponder for my welcome tweets. And I definately DON’T include any links or “find out more about ME” stuff in my response. Mine is cordial and rather generic in nature.

    I find that one good rule of thumb with Twitter is to only follow those who follow you back within 24-48 hours. After all, relationships are a two-way thing. So I auto-follow anyone who follows me. And I go back and unfollow those who don’t follow me within 24-48 hours.

    I rarely click the links in people’s DM’s to me, because I think it smells of “It’s all about me”. With you I made an exception, because you said 3 key things:

    1. 30 seconds – good length
    2. video – good choice
    3. introduction – good concept

    It was short, to the point, video, and you labeled it an introduction. Very good psychology.

    Thanks, Brian. I am looking forward to reading and watching more of your stuff.

    Tim Jensen

  15. I don’t see any problem with it. Probably, you could explain or indicate it’s a 30 sec self intro video. I think the negative video was a reaction that it was not a personal video but something him/her interpreted as something a bit over self promoting? I don’t know. I have no problems. But then, I watched the video after reading this post and BEFORE following you, so that could have made a bit of difference.

  16. I think the video is a clever idea.
    I’m not a blogger, or social media maven, I own a company that builds social networks. As such I try to stay current with what’s going on, and stay connected, but my ideas about successful uses of social networking sites is not always the same as other people’s.

    With Twitter I’m loathe to follow people with tons and tons of connections. I don’t really see much to brag about if you have thousands of followers, and I think auto following in return suggests it doesn’t really matter to you whether you follow someone or not. I looked at your tweets and you respond to people – evidence that you’re using Twitter not as a broadcast medium, but as a social one.

    I find a lot of the people who brag about the number of followers they have are broadcasters, and their thank you for following messages typically sound like a “thanks for tuning in” sort of thing. Your video said something else entirely. I think it’s a great idea. I’m going to do one myself, and maybe even try to do personalized ones sometimes, too (as suggested by another commenter).

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