In the last 24 hours, can you guess how many messages I received on Twitter?

10? 15? 20?

You would think it would be somewhere in that range. And as it is, that already sounds like a big enough number.

But in the last 24 hours, I received 200 Twitter messages!

TWO HUNDRED MESSAGES!

If you thought that 20 messages was a lot, then you can only imagine what it's like to go through 200 messages. I know so many people who get this many messages a day that they have stopped checking their Twitter inbox altogether.

Unfortunately for me, I can't do that, because I generate a lot of my media features and clients who want to pay me thousands of dollars each month through Twitter.

That means I need to either sort through all the messages I receive or assign someone to look through them for me.

Curious as to why I have such a huge influx in messages?

Have you ever followed someone on Twitter and Instagram and received a message that said thanks for the follow? Chances are, that was due to an autoresponder. You may even have an autoresponder yourself. But do you know what it is doing to your relationships?

An autoresponder may seem like a good idea. You may think it's an easy way to start a conversation with someone who connects with you. But a lot of people can see right through it.

Regardless of how you use your autoresponder, it should be discontinued (unless you're telling people you're on vacation for a few days).

Adam Fairhead, founder of Fairhead Creative and technical lead for InfluenceTree, sent me a message on Twitter a while back that wasn't automated. We had an instant connection. But that's because he put a personal touch into his message. For about two months, I tried using an autoresponder, but it potentially caused more harm than good. Later, Adam showed me how much business he was generating with his authentic messages and I realized that I should ditch my autoresponder.

These are the top 4 reasons you shouldn't be using autoresponders (and what you should be doing instead):

1. You can't 'hack' good relationships

What turns off one person probably turns off another person. And people like Adam gets it. It's so common to see most online marketing to be focused on the wrong thing: sales. Instead, it should be focused on relationships.

Even though relationships are messy, complicated and emotional, Adam has proved that people buy from you because they trust you have their best interest at heart. These clients progress into becoming advocates of your missions or causes because they follow your leadership and at the same time, you move from salesperson to leader.

Who are you more likely to follow, a salesperson or a leader?

You just can't hack your way into a good relationship. Whether it's a client relationship, friend relationship, investor relationship, it doesn't matter. There are guidelines to keep in mind when using social messaging, but copy and pasting the same content to everyone does not work.

Adam says that you need a heart of service.

It may sound mushy, but his challenge is true. Adam says that if you're not out to genuinely add value to others, above and beyond what they may ever be able to do for you in return, this won't work for you.

Let's say you followed someone on Twitter, and they followed you back.

What would you send to them in a Direct Message?

Do you send them anything at all?

Here's a real (auto) Direct Message Adam received from someone, recently:

Keep in mind, Adam just followed this person. Just followed them and they're already reaching for his wallet! Without striking up a conversation, without learning anything about Adam at all, they're selling him on something.

If they were to have tried to get to know Adam, learned about him, tried to see what sort of problems he had and then proposed something that could help Adam,do you think he would have been more likely to accept?

Absolutely.

2. Bots can't be interested, or make you interesting.

They say, to be interesting, be interested.

Look at this message Adam got in his Twitter DMs after following up with someone he wanted to speak with:

This is a message Adam got in reply to a message he'd sent. He sent two messages to them. The second was asking if they saw his first message, clarifying it wasn't an automated message. From there, they got talking.

People are so used to being spammed, they often ignore good messages as well as bad! So do things that bots can't, and be genuinely interested in people.

Here's another example:

This is a message Adam received as a result of being himself and caring enough to write a real human message. Sure, not everyone will respond. There's a lot of junk to contend with. But some will. This is how both client relationships and friendships, begin.

There's no automations. There's no hacks. There's just a desire to help and serve people.

This is great, but there's more.

There's a way to leverage this and -- from a place of service -- grow these budding relationships in a way that does scale. And that's through tailored 1-on-1 communication.

3. Why do unto others what you don't want them to do to you?

Adam stresses to his team the importance of the golden rule, to treat others as you'd want to be treated yourself. He feels this ideal extends not only to his personal life, but to to business and to online marketing as well.

"Write the tweet you wish existed in the world."

"Offer the opt-in you wish existed in the world."

"Build the business you wish existed in the world."

"Design the layout you wish existed in the world."

And so forth...

If you don't like receiving messages that are from autoresponders, don't send them to other people!

It's a good mantra that keeps us honest and helps us serve people more deeply, and get real responses from real people.

4. If your doctor did it, you would sue them for malpractice.

When Adam last visited his doctor, his temperature was soaring to 106 degrees and he'd been stuck in bed all week. When he arrived at the doctor's office and walked inside, he wasn't instantly presented with the same prescription bottle as the guy in line in front of him.

That would have been ridiculous, right?

Adam was a totally different person than the person in front of him, who had a totally different problem.

When you go to the doctor, the doctor introduces themselves and starts asking you questions. They learn about your problems and try to figure out what's wrong with you. And then they will write you a prescription.

Adam feels that when it comes to messaging people online, don't just push your pills on people. Instead, listen, and write helpful prescriptions.

That's the power of social messaging.

And that's why things like automated-DMs don't work. So if you have an autoresponder set up on your Twitter, you should get rid of it. Start building authentic relationships instead.

How do you feel about autoresponders? I would love to hear more. Comment below.

Published on: Oct 26, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.