The Auto Thank
Why does everyone hate it so much?
http://old1712.org/directions/ wikipedia reference Okay, actually, I get it why many people hate the idea of an auto-thank on Twitter when they get new followers. When every single person gets the same canned “Thanks for following me!” response, it can be fairly off-putting, and generally no one cares enough about those tweets to even respond. Yes, it’s generally considered a good idea to thank your new followers and try to get conversations going, but the thing is, you have to care and have to want to start a conversation. The “Thanks for following me!” tweet doesn’t inspire the start of a conversation – it ends one. There’s nothing there for anyone to interact with.
“Exactly!” you say. “That’s why the auto-thank is such a bad idea!”
Well, no, not quite.
The bland, boring, single sentence of an auto thank is definitely a terrible idea. Congratulations, I care just as little about you following me as the other 600 saps who’ve done so in the last year! Or what’s worse, that automatic tweet + DM combo plugging the person’s book, blog, website, product line, and offering consulting services – first month free! Yeesh, could you shove any more of your self-promotional crap down my throat? No thanks, I’ll not only ignore those people, but probably unfollow them, too.
If you thank all of your new followers with the same general “thanks for following me!” type of response, does it really matter if you hand typed that bland baloney, or if you set it up as an automatic response?
However, there’s a better way. I touched on it in my blog about automating Twitter – there’s quite a bit you can do to make it easier and more efficient to use Twitter in your marketing. What you need to do first is the not so fun task of recording data.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy spreadsheet (although I am fond of those), you can simply keep a tally or just use a Twitter followers analyzer to see what types of followers you typically get. What I also did was keep rough track of the different types of “thanks for following me” tweets I ended up sending to these types of followers. What I’ve found for myself and for my clients is that over time, you end up sending the same types of thank you tweets to the same types of followers.
Once you start seeing trends, that’s where automation can come in. If you’re using Socialbro, like I am, you can set triggers for new followers that fall into (x) category, and set a group of 4 or 5 variations on the thank you tweet to go out to those followers. Make sure that your thank you tweets include a question – that’s where a lot of folks go wrong, or at least, less right. You want the thank you tweet to spark a conversation, without having to type out 50 of them yourself before someone will answer you.
I use the auto thank as a first round to test the waters. If someone isn’t going to bother to reply to a tweet asking them how their week is going, what project they’re excited about right now, or what the last great blog or article they read was, they’re not really someone I care that much about attempting to engage with anyway. At least, not in that first tweet. They may respond better if I reply to a tweet they send first, but either way, regardless of how that “thanks for following me!” tweet got to them, they weren’t going to answer.
I use my auto-thanks both as a way to keep engagement up in general, and as a way to try and start conversations with the huge variety of people who follow me. I update and cycle through my thank you prompts on a regular basis, and anyone who answers the thank you tweet gets a response – from me, personally, as soon as I see it. No one really seems to mind, and it has started some interesting conversations with my new followers, which is exactly what I want. It’s also saved me immense amounts of time! New followers get a thank you, and if they answer, we have a conversation. Meanwhile, those who don’t answer, I don’t lose out in wasted time or effort crafting a custom “thank you” for someone who wasn’t going to answer anyway.
Do NOT use the auto-thank as a way to plug your stuff. You should be doing that after personally talking/tweeting to the person, and seeing a legitimate way your services or blog post could help them. Provide a link to your book if they ask, or if it’s relevant to your conversation. Sending a link to things like that unasked for is kind of like those guys on the boardwalk in Venice beach, jumping in front of your face and trying to get you to buy their mixtape. No one wants to, and we all actively try to avoid making eye contact so they don’t try.
So don’t be boring. Don’t be the crazy mixtape guy from the beach.
Try to start a conversation. And try to engage the other person in a meaningful way. Everyone’s answer to “what’s the latest project you’ve been working on?” is going to be different, just as their answer to “what’s the last blog post you read that you loved?” will be different. And that’s where the quality connecting and engagement comes from!