Post image for Twitter: To Auto-DM or Not To Auto-DM? JJ Entry #12

Twitter: To Auto-DM or Not To Auto-DM? JJ Entry #12

by Nicholas Tart

Following up on my Twitter Experiment with Direct Messages… It was a success, but at what cost? I’ll go into more detail under Objective 3 in this post.

Additionally, this is the final JJ Entry from the JuniorBiz Project Charter. In later JJ Entries I will focus on the cool things that happen to me and my business on a week-to-week basis.

Obj. 1: Finish Guide

The first objective of the Project Charter, to write and publish the Official JuniorBiz Lawn Mowing Guide (OJLMG), is complete and I am now in the marketing phase. As most savvy business professionals know, there are 4 P’s to marketing. I have set those 4 P’s as follows:


The OJLMG is a book that provides information on everything you need to know to start and run a successful lawn mowing service. This book is written for a target audience of young people aged 12-18.


With the help of my New Venture Management class at CSU, I have set the price for the paperback version at $11.95. The eBook version is set at $8.95. These prices were also set through a market-based pricing strategy by comparing the OJLMG to other books with similar content.

Place (Distribution)

The OJLMG is available to purchase online at, and I have also managed to get into my first bookstore (Reader’s Cove in Fort Collins, CO) as well as a dental office (Jennifer Scheidies DDS in Longmont, CO).


Last week I met and talked with Charles Kaine, owner of Reader’s Cove, and he gave me some great ideas on ways I can promote my book. In the coming weeks I’ll be leveraging my status as a student to write and distribute press releases to a number of local periodicals and newspapers.

Ben Foster, owner of, was also kind enough to review the OJLMG on his site and promote it through his email subscriber list.

In the review Ben stated, “The tips, advice, and ideas imparted in this book are extremely useful, and I have certainly changed parts of my lawn mowing business philosophy because of reading this book. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in starting a teen lawn business or someone who wants to bring their business to the next level. I enjoyed it, I know you will too.”

Obj. 2: Increase Traffic

The second objective was to increase traffic to Throughout the semester I have been building links to my site by posting comments on influential blogs. Last week I left comments after articles on (Alexa Rank #456) and (#4,436). Collectively these links have brought 2 visitors to but these types of links are intended more for Google Spiders; which will eventually increase my Page Rank.

Obj. 3: Boost Online Presence

The third objective of the Project Charter was to boost’s social media presence. Over the lifetime of my site (since August 2008) has contributed 9.47% of my traffic. Since opening a Twitter account in December 2008, 11.28% of my visitors came from Twitter. Keep these stats in mind as I walk you through my Twitter Experiment with the Automatic Direct Message function.

In week 10 of the Project Charter (this is week 12) I set up an automatic direct message that every new follower of mine receives. This message read:

Check out my site, send me a comment (good or bad) & I’ll mention it (w/ a link) in a post. Thanks!

This message was enabled for 2 weeks and was sent to 207 people. In the first week, had 28 visitors (23.53% of the traffic for the week) from Twitter, but it’s impossible to tell how many came as a result of the direct message. During the second week, I had 63 visitors (33.69%). Then last week after I disabled the direct message, I only had 25 visitors (16.23%) from

Additionally, here are the comments I received about my site from the second week:

  • CoolAlDuncan @JuniorBiz No problem. I’m feelin’ what you do and I will definitely be supporting. Looking forward to your blog posts.
  • Sofia6 @JuniorBiz Hi, my daughter at 6, had a lemonade stand; made the signs; helped make the lemonade and worked it! While I proudly supervised =)
  • SpiritofBigBiz @JuniorBiz Young entrepreneurs need this for sure
  • LDsBoutique @JuniorBiz Hey NICK! Umm about a year now. Just getting started good! Your site is really NEAT too, good idea!
  • Newhorizons72 – Interesting site. Like the idea of your book about mowing lawns. That is definitely one of the first jobs we have as tnagers
  • Tommyoroguestar – I would say content that is focused on businesses that a 20something could run…for example I run an online marketing business, others run video production companies and some do computer repair…you get the idea…the principals are still the same as running the lemonade stand and the lawn mowing companies so it’s a strong root for whatever direction you take it. email?
  • ReyesMike – Nick, how wud u like 2 be part of my Evaluation Team for a Youth Startup Challenge? You cud be online to get this done. let me know.
  • Talentdiva – Nice blog. You should connect w/my son @hireateen (he also has @mysittersclub as his business). 1 thing, don’t use the DM too much because ppl will see it as spam. Just sending “hey look @ my link” messages can backfire.

Here are the new comments I received from the third week (with Auto-DM disabled):

  • …nothing

So… To auto-DM or not to auto-DM?

Generally, automatic direct messaging is a bad idea. Adrienne (aka Talentdiva) makes a good point about the auto-DM being used to spam. People use Twitter to connect with other people, not with robots.

On the other hand, Angie (aka ReferralTeams) commented, “It’s different than what I’ve been receiving. Lot’s of Tweeps are using the generic DM. “Thanks for the follow, check me out here” with a url link. At least you offered something different. And I think it’s worth noting that you did one more thing different. You actually follow up. You DM me that my comment was posted, which gives me another reason to revisit your site.”

Another thing to consider is that I have received two substantial “rewards” through this experiment. Mike (aka ReyesMike) has offered me the opportunity to judge for a Southeast Asian Youth Business Plan program, and I have seized it! Also, Tommy (aka Tommyoroguestar) has offered to write for I checked out his SEO blog and he’s a great writer as well as a young entrepreneur. I’m looking forward to reading and posting his articles.

Do I regret utilizing the auto-DM? Absolutely not. When used properly, it is incredibly effective at drawing traffic, encouraging feedback and building relationships. But again, if you set up the auto-DM, make sure you follow through with everyone who participates; which is hard to do and takes quite a bit of time.

Final Answer: Yes, if you are devoted to using it properly and want to meet new people. No, if you’re too busy and only want to use it to draw 1-time visitors who will likely unfollow you if you don’t live up to your promise.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Objs. 4 & 5: Add Content and Expand Local Awareness

I have combined the last 2 objectives because they are boring in comparison to Objective 3. However, I met with Annette Paetzel from Junior Achievement this last week and I will be teaching a youth entrepreneurship course to local middle school students this summer. I came into contact with Annette through Lucinda Kerchensteiner; who knew me through the Northern Colorado Entrepreneurs Network.

Twitter is great but don’t underestimate the power of local networking as well..