Be inquisitive not acquisitive in social media

5 Sep

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the ubiquitous “thanks for the following, go to my facebook page/blog/website” response you get when you follow someone on Twitter.

Since then, the number of such direct messages has roughly doubled. This seems to be an area where many businesses go off the rails. And as it comes at the start of the “relationship”, it can set a course for the nature of your engagement which is hard to recover from.

So you don’t come off as a collector of followers, I offer the following tips:

Stop saying “thanks for following”. I know, I know, I espoused it in the last post, albeit with a more personal follow through than “Now buy my product”. But these practices evolve! Do you need to thank someone for following you? No. They’re not doing you a favour. They either wanted you to follow them back, or they liked your content. Or your pic. Or your clout. You wouldn’t say “thanks for introducing yourself to me” at a schmoozer – it sounds overly formal and contrived. The psychos in the movies are always the overly polite ones.

Don’t flog your blog. Or your website, or facebook page. At least in the first contact you have with someone. These spaces are social. You wouldn’t introduce yourself to someone at a party and then the next thing out of you mouth is your facebook address. So don’t do it here. It’s desperate. And nakedly ambitious.

Get to know who is following you. These are relationships you’re building, not a fan club. If the “thanks for the following” direct message comes off as boilerplate, which most do, you have done nothing to build the relationship. Quite the opposite. You’ve said you don’t care enough to care. Instead, go to their profile. Go to their website. Find something out about this person (this person…not this follower, or potential customer). Let them know you are interested in the budding new relationship. Yes, it takes time. Like all good things. There are no shortcuts to success here.

It’s better not to direct message someone on Twitter when they follow you than to do it with pushes to your content. You just come across as acquisitive, not inquisitive.

Who wants to engage with people like that? Hope that helps.

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One Response to “Be inquisitive not acquisitive in social media”

  1. Renée November 26, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    One of my friends had a saying that would always crack me up. She’d say, “But enough about me—let’s talk about you. What do YOU think about ME?”.

    Twittering (to me) feels like tiptoeing into a very noisy all-you-can-eat buffet. It would be way too easy to just blindly add, add, add, just for the sake of feeling good about the quantity. In the online world, it can be tempting to either (a) treat everyone with a false sense of intimacy or (b) dismiss human beings as easily disposable. With something as huge as Twitter or Facebook, it would be too easy to acquire meaninglessly or to be sloppy in representing oneself.

    My own rule of thumb for online interaction is to behave as I would in person (as best as one can via computer). I still need some schoolin’ on the nuances and the finer points—and your post offers some solid advice. Good words.

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