It can be hard to keep up with new followers, mentions and messages on Twitter, so you may want to use a service to automatically reply to these interactions. Twitter doesn’t provide its own auto-reply option, but the service does support many third-party applications that can automatically reply on your behalf. When you use an application, you’ll need to follow Twitter’s rules and best practices for replies and direct messages.

Twitter and App Support

Replies within Twitter’s platform must be created manually because Twitter does not offer automation services. Twitter does support third-party apps that can automate your account or schedule tweets. You’ll have to grant account access to apps such as Vocus, Twillow and Sendible (links in Resources) so they can automate your replies. However, even though an external application manages your automatic messages, you are responsible for your Twitter account and you will be punished if your account violates Twitter’s rules.

Auto-Tweet Rules

Standard guidelines for replies on Twitter, which the service calls @reply, must be followed for your automatic replies. The main requirement is that the recipient must request or approve the action in advance. For Twitter, this approval includes following you, retweeting one of your Tweets or mentioning your Twitter name in a tweet. You cannot, for example, create automated @reply messages based on keywords or popular tags. You must also provide users a way to opt out of automated replies or mentions.

Automatic Direct Messages

Some programs give you the ability to create and send automatic direct messages to new followers. Twitter frowns on this activity because it feels these DMs can annoy users. Twitter makes a note when an account blocks or unfollows you after receiving or opening a DM; and it also monitors when your account is reported for spam. Twitter can suspend your account if you are spamming its members or contacting them inappropriately.

Auto-Reply Uses

Automatic replies can serve many purposes on Twitter. One of the more popular options is to thank new followers. However, if your website or service is experiencing technical issues, you can use an auto-reply to explain this to people who mention your Twitter account. For example, you might write “Thanks @user. We’re busy working on our site and will respond to you shortly.”