Hi sucker, auto-thanks for the Twitter follow

There has been a lot of discussion recently on some of our online platforms about the nature of auto-responder direct messages on Twitter – especially those in response to a “follow.”

I can understand the need for the rich and famous to use an automated response to “follows” from their fans. We must assume those pour in by the dozen every minute 24/7, and for the stars to answer each message individually would really eat into their manicure time.

But when it comes to the likes of me – or many, many other small business operators like me – why do we send new followers a standardized DM? These must assume that all Twitter’s 75 million-odd users are identical clones of each other, which is a bit of an insult to someone who has followed you because s/he thought you seem interesting.

A few examples from my inbox in recent days…

140…er, how many?

Hi Fellow Tweeters, I have just found the most responsive marketing platform on the net…. and what’s more it’s totally FREE…. if fact

That’s right we are launching our own TV channel and are looking for suitable businesses and individuals to promote their businesses, if you

Geography? Whassat?

Welcome to (name)! I am looking forward to learning more about you. Check out our guide to (city many thousands of miles away) at www.xxx.com

Let’s not waste time on foreplay

Thanks for following me. If you want to make money on Twitter check this out: http://xxx.yyy

Excitable types

Thank you for following me!!! I look forward to following your tweets!!!!! What are your interests? Let’s share ideas soon…

Thx 4 follow! Following U back. Please enjoy these 5 free podcasts on writing & publishing from @xxxxxx http:yyy.zzz

No such thing as a free lunch

Thanks for following…(name)…founder XXXXX.com…download your FREE marketing gift here…http://xxx.yyyy

This is Tweetbook, isn’t it?

It’s great that new friends are now just a click away…. Lets connect on Facebook and share great value together > http://xxx.yyyy

I appreciate you following me. Have you seen my Facebook page http://xxx.yyyy

So how should you handle follows on Twitter?

For my own purposes, anyone who follows me on Twitter deserves a personal response from me. I know that many of such “people” who follow me are automated and driven purely by the statistics I tweet about and all that.

But although I can determine the difference between genuine tweets and those set up by the spammers hiding behind names and pictures of interesting women offering all kinds of skills from needlepoint to S&M, I don’t want to take the chance on losing contact with someone who might be interested in my business offerings, and/or be interested in becoming a buddy who shares hobbies, views, etc.

Yes, it takes time, but it’s worth it

When a new follower shows a profile, I check to see if anything I’ve written may be of interest to them. This can be, in order of preference:

1. An article or post here on HowToWriteBetter.net

2. One of my nonfiction books

3. An article I’ve written for BirdsOnTheBlog or other site

4. A relevant article that someone else has written

5. A relevant book that someone else has written

I compose my “thanks for following” note with words to the effect of “you may find this article about (whatever) useful” and add the appropriate link. If there’s room, I might also add a personal comment like “Hi fellow Canuck (Canadian)” or “your new book sounds great” – etc.

Then, I send that tweet as an open reply – not as a DM (Direct Message.)

This way, not only does the message get across to my new follower, but also it acts as a reminder to all my other followers at the same time.

Results? Out of every batch of 20 or so new followers I get, there will be at least 5 who reply back to me thanking me for the link and/or the personal comment. Some talk about whatever it is I’ve referred them to, so I know they’ve read it. And some enter into quite a long Twittersation with me about it.

It’s all good for business; it builds camaraderie and confidence; and it makes me quite a few new friends.

What are your experiences?

Please share!

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  1. Hi Suze,

    I must admit, I don’t put nearly as much time into replying to new followers as you do. I try and say a quick hello if they look like ‘genuine’ followers and I always look at their blog / website and comment on that if I find it interesting etc.

    I don’t like automated direct messages – I’d rather hear nothing from someone than receive a standardized automated message (and I never click the links in them anyway).

    • Thanks for that, Angela – in fact I don’t think how much time you put into replying to new followers really matters. What matters is that you have done it yourself, rather than leaving it to some cyber robot, even if it is only a quick hello.

      It’s ironic that with the touchy-feely, truly personal ethos of the online social media we get these cyber-robots talking to each other on our behalf…:-)

  2. Hi Suze – sounds like sage advice. I don’t send anything at the moment and like Angela I’d rather hear nothing than a canned response – it just feels “icky”. I’m not sure I’d want to put that much effort in – but we’ll see!

    • I think it is well worth the effort if, like me, you get 10-20 new Twitter follows a day. Any more than that, though, really would become a time-chomping admin problem and I would probably have to resort to an autoresponder. I wonder if, when the time comes, I should send one out that says “thanks for the follow – apologies for this autoresponder but it’s written from the heart!”

  3. I don’t auto respond and I was doing a version of what you do and I stopped. I need to get back to that. Lately, I’ve been announcing who I’m following and why. I love doing that when I find someone interesting like you. Great, funny, and insightful.

  4. Hi Suze – I’ve been putting your advice in this article into practice by adding an extra comment about a follower’s own service or website. It’s already paying dividends, as new followers are now sometimes retweeting my thank yous. You’re a star. Thanks so much for your wisdom and advice. 🙂

  5. Hi Angela and you’re welcome – glad it’s working well for you!

  6. A personal DM ‘thank you for following’ sound like good advice Suzan, although my understanding is that you can only DM someone who is following you back. I follow many people that I find interesting (I am not talking about celebs here) who don’t necessarily follow me back, so from a personal point of view I don’t get a ‘thanks for following’ or ‘kiss my butt’ – automated or otherwise. On reflection maybe I should be offended that they don’t find my tweets interesting enough to prompt them to follow me back…hmmm something to consider!


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