Sense and Sociability: Why Zombies Don't Belong in Social Media

Beth Dunn
Beth Dunn



Miss Jane This month we address a vital question of our time -- one that continues to cause serious consternation among the legions of Twitterers that Miss Jane counts as acquaintances and friends.  Due to the seriousness of this matter, we have chosen to devote the entire column to this one inquiry.

Miss Jane,

I'm almost afraid to ask, but I seriously fear that I am being followed by Zombies... on Twitter. My friends tell me that they are commonly known as "Spambots" and "Auto-DMs" but these words mean nothing to me. All I know is that it feels like I am being stalked by the undead, and I do not like it.

Zombies Sometimes, when I follow somebody on twitter, I immediately receive a stale-sounding direct message from that person, thanking me for following them and insisting that I visit their website... presumably so that they can thank me in person.

This offends and annoys me.

Furthermore, it seems that if I mention certain phrases on Twitter, I gain new followers, but alas, these new followers seem to have little to share with me by way of actual human interaction, or even friendly conversation. Phrases that have resulted in this odious phenomenon may or may not include the words "SEO" and "single ladies" and  "underpants." Purely hypothetically, of course.

I do like my social media to be social, but this practice makes my stomach turn.  Am I being too sensitive? Are they being rude? Is the Zombie Apocalypse upon us?

With respect and a rapidly mounting sense of urgency,

A Friend

Kind Sir,

I am thoroughly sensible to the predicament you describe.  it is an unfortunate truth that many of those new to Twitter -- and some who have been around long enough to know better -- still pursue these "undead" tactics to grow their follower lists and increase clickthroughs to their sites.

Many Twitter users simply unfollow any account that employs the dreaded "auto-DM" -- the practice of sending an automatically generated Direct Message to all new followers, usually including an invitation to visit the sender's website, and frequently including a promise to save the person money, or time, or some other valued currency.

One of the most common mistakes Miss Jane sees new twitterers fall into is the trap of wanting to automate everything, including the preferably human interactions that people expect to enjoy on Twitter. While it is entirely acceptable to publish links to your best blog posts and company announcements on Twitter, this activity should be considerably leavened by actual human conversation with your followers. Promote the good work of others, pass on useful and interesting information that you find on sites other than your own, and try to engage in at least one two-way conversation each day.

In this humble author's opinion, Twitter is no place for Zombies, whether they are automated Direct Messages or mindless self-promoters. This column prizes conversation, courtesy, and wit, and the undead are famously short on all three counts.

Miss Jane


Sense and Sociability is written by Beth Dunn , a member of the Inbound Marketing Consultant team at HubSpot. Beth also blogs at and An Accomplished Young Lady .

Miss Jane logo by Jim Hill .

Submit your own questions to Sense and Sociability at .


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