When I was in high school, I remember how exciting it was to get a yearbook and have as many friends as possible sign it. The best messages were the ones that talked about the crazy things we did that year or reading why someone values you as a friend.
The worst messages?
“Have a great summer!”
It’s not so much that those are terrible things to say, but you also know that those people write those messages in everyone’s yearbook. So, now you don’t feel so special. And darn it, we want to feel special!
I think the same applies when it comes to something like the automated message on Twitter. As we know, this tends to happen after you follow someone and they follow you back. Suddenly, you have a new message in your inbox. As soon as you read it, you know that everyone that follows that person gets the same message. That’s because it’s evident that this is not a special message meant for you, but you know that everyone else is automatically getting these too. As with the lame yearbook signings, these tend to all have the text in them as well:
“Hey! Thanks for the follow! Follow me on Facebook too!”
“Be sure to check out our website!”
“(Insert sales pitch) and email us today!”
And perhaps the worst of the bunch is the “Stay cool. Don’t change” equivalent of automated Twitter message:
“I am looking forward to your tweets!”
Really? What does that even mean? Am I really supposed to think you are anxiously anticipating what I’m going to tweet next? That just sounds so phony!
Now granted, there may be a number of companies and people who could tell me why the automated message seems to work for them. But does that still make it a good idea?
I thought the real power and purpose of SOCIAL media was to be genuinely social. It’s used to build and foster relationships that generate genuine interest, trust and admiration among the people you interact with. The automated message doesn’t present itself in a way that tells the recipient that you’re interested in those things.
It doesn’t help that these messages tend to be all about the sender…link to ME, follow ME here, contact MY business and watch MY video.
I’m not the first person to suggest this isn’t the best in social media practices. I’m just surprised how many I still get and how many of them say a lot of the same things. The biggest benefits come from making an effort to build relationships, engaging with others and not making your communication all about you. If you send an automated message, they don’t seem to accomplish any of those things and the recipient doesn’t feel…well, special. They don’t feel different from anyone else you send that message to.
As I said I still get these from followers. In fact, I might have had a few of them read this and say, “Oh yeah? Well here’s a non-automated un-follow, you hater!”
At least that would be a unique message meant for just me.
Scott Murray is the Social Learning Evangelist for TrainUp.com, the web’s largest career marketplace. He is also a contributor to the Training Insights Blog, a series of blogs dedicated to career and professional development.
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