Inns and the Art of the DM (direct message)

What is a DM (direct message)?

A great post came out by Jill Clark, I Die Inside When You Automate, which hits spot on how I feel about auto DMs and I perceive many other people feel the same way as well.

So you ask, what is the secret to DMing?

The secret of DMing on twitter is having one of those great auto responder DMs that send people an automatic direct message right after you follow them or they follow you saying, “BUY MY STUFF!! BUY MY STUFF!! AND HERE’S THE LINK TO BUY MY STUFF!!!

Holy Waffles and Nutella Batman!

The day I recommend that, please, oh please, someone please summon the space aliens to come down and replace my brain with bigfoot’s!

There is no, none, never, no how, no where, never ever ANY good reason to use an auto DM.

An auto DM, especially and most often containing some sort of sale pitch, is the easiest and most painless (or it should be pain-full, because you are losing a potential guest right off the bat) of making someone un-follow you ASAP. Even if it’s not a pitch, it’s still automatic, impersonal and kind of rude.

Even if the person receiving the automatic DM does not un-follow you, you just put yourself in the category of all the other people out there pitching their brand, which is into the “ignore” box.

Just as bad as the Auto DM, is the DM from a lodging facility, “Come check out our inn at and our special winter rates of $149 per night D/O” or “We have the best rates around, come check out our specials and packages at” Or my personal favorite, ” Find Us on Facebook!”.

Here we have the equivalent of being in a networking group in person and someone has acknowledged you, and then proceeds to ignore giving you a civil hello, and instead of engaging and having an actual conversation with you, proceeds to spout “BUY MY STUFF”, “BUY MY STUFF”.  Wow!!! That makes the other person really want to buy their stuff. No?

I got up this morning to find a direct message from an inn on twitter in my email box. Apparently they had read the post from Jill that I had RTed (Retweeted) “I agree! Do you have ideas you can share on how to customize hospitality messages for “relevancy and context?”” I was going to DM back but decided it would take up several dozen dozen DMs back to get across what I would say, so the post.

I do have some ideas and thoughts about this actually. I generally have 6-8 plus lodging facilities follow me each week and I keep a list of who DMs me when I follow them back, and what they have DMed me, auto or otherwise. So have a list of what lodging facilities have sent me for the very first contact spanning back over more then a year.

The BEST DMs I have gotten from lodging, are the ones that apparently have taken the time to look at my profile, my name, sometimes read my twitter bio and even more personal to me, the person that clicks through and reads my blog or scopes my website. The best DMs are ones that are personal, and every time I get one of those I spend a few minutes to go check out their website/blog or other media. The auto and otherwise Sales DMs I do not.

I’ve talked to other twitter users of the guest variety about this, and they concur with the same actions I do. A spammy sales DM, auto or otherwise, whether un-followed or not, will NOT get the user to click through and check out your website, your blog, your specials or the cute inn puppy with the spots. So in effect you are using reverse physiology to turn away potential guests.

Suggestion #1

Don’t pitch, don’t sell by DM. (unless they specifically ask you about something)

Suggestion #2

People love to see their name used because it’s personal. So even if you do nothing else, click through to their profile and if you are going to send them a DM, use their name and if possible check out their location. “Hi Joe, thanks for the follow, I heard Chicago got hit hard by the last storm, I hope your staying warm (or) how much snow did you get out there?”

Suggestion #3

Ask questions. Take a moment to go through their twitter stream briefly, everyone has favorite things they talk about and pick something interesting and ask about it. Use common sense though, they tweet about Starbucks coffee, asking their favorite flavor probably isn’t a good one. But finding out they like BMWs is, for example or the fact they love to go museum hopping. Interest in others is always a good way to start, be a listener instead of a pitcher.

Suggestion #4

The best DMs are ones with compliments. Everyone loves compliments. It makes you memorable to them. Have an artist follow you? Take two minutes and go check out their website. Find something to compliment them about. “Hi Joe, thanks for the follow (or followback) just checked out your site, The wedding cake photos are fabulous, love the Star Wars themed one!”  If they have not checked you out yet online, they most certainly will now.

Social Media is the soft sell, develop relationships, engage, interact.

It’s not to say you can’t indirectly sell to someone by DM but take it slow. Exchange a few DMs with them first and get to know them a little. If you want to end by saying something like, “If your ever in the area, please come see us and say hi, we’d love to meet you,” is not a sales pitch, but it is very much an indirect sell.

If you feel you HAVE to DM someone, an innocuous DM like “Hi Joe, thanks for following us, we hope you are having a wonderful January and had a good holiday season” is still much better then the sales DM.

And so we come back to the time factor. Innkeepers never have enough time.

BUT, how much is your time worth? If you are going to take the time to learn to use twitter, take a few minutes to check out who is following you and respond to anyone who is not blatantly selling anything or to anyone that could be a potential guest. If they spam sell you back, go ahead and unfollow them, but it’s a good reverse on how potential guests feel when you spam sell them.

Having a standard response to everyone is fine if you don’t have, or don’t want to invest the couple minutes of your time to poke around, but make it a non-pitchy, non sales response. Come up with something clever. Beta test your DMs, find out which ones get the best responses back.

If 2 minutes of your time is spent to convert someone on twitter to a future and/or potential long term returning guest, that’s easy money.



About Chef Forfeng

Innkeeping Tip and Tricks: Please check out some marketing ideas for Inns and B&Bs, Blogging ideas, Facebook Tips and Social Media Tutorials
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6 Responses to Inns and the Art of the DM (direct message)

  1. This is such a great topic Heather.

    As a hospitality business, my customers could come from anywhere in the world, and, could possibly also include those who Auto DM a sales message to me. Therefore I tend not to unfollow or block.

    As for using auto DM myself, I do not on my main Twitter account, but I do on the 5/6 subsidiary accounts. On these, I use an auto DM to “point” them to my main account if they want interaction and engagement. [If that makes sense].

    • Chef Forfeng says:

      Hi Anthony, thank you for the great response. I actually do like your usage of it for redirecting it to another account.

      Your comment about businesses being anywhere in the world holds a lot of merit, I tend to check people out again before I unfollow them IF I had followed them originally for a reason (i.e. they had good information) and am afraid I tend to say something to them about it. It tends to lower my respect level for them a bit. (but that’s a personal peeve 🙂

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Inns and the Art of the DM (direct message) | Chefforfeng's Weblog --

  3. PS Love the picture in the intro 🙂

  4. Hear, hear!

    I make a habit of following back anyone who follows me and who looks like they may have interests even tangentially associated with mine, as long as their profile and recent tweets suggest we may have something to say to each other. But if my follow sparks a cruddy automated DM, where it’s obvious they have not a clue who I am or what is of interest to me, that’s the moment to unfollow them. If there was a link in the DM trying to sell me something then they are also likely to get blocked, to boot.



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