Twitter: Bad ways to thank people for following you

by Angelique on November 13, 2009

graphic saying

In the past few days I’ve followed a lot more people on Twitter. They have responded in a variety of ways, including my typical response: {response: none} Yes, I admit it, I have never thanked anyone for following me. Said hello, yes, praised their tweets or blogs, yes, suggested other Tweeters they might follow, yes, but it’s only recently that the practice of expressing gratitude for following has finally permeated my mind.

But that’s neither here nor there; the point is that I have recently been the recipient of many thank-yous, and I have come to this conclusion:

Automatic direct messages expressing gratitude for following don’t make sense.

Also, this one: Sales pitches within gratitude messages are rude.

And finally: Personal @ reply gratitude messages are good. So good that I may even start using them until I get too famous, after which you will be hearing from my staff I will continue to respond to everyone to the best of my ability.

To better understand what I am saying, especially the part about rude pitches, please refer to the following illustration. Click to see it larger:

Example of Twitter DMs direct messages


Regarding my statement, “Direct messages, especially auto-direct messages, expressing gratitude for following you don’t make sense”: It’s not the gratitude part that doesn’t make sense, it’s the direct-message part. Why not thank them publicly via the @ symbol? This has several advantages:


@ symbol Anyone checking the public timeline will see both of your names and may be interested in checking you both out.


@ symbol Anyone reading your profile will see the follower’s name (and possibly check them out.)


@ symbol Anyone reading your profile will think you’re a swell guy/gal for both expressing thanks and for mentioning your new follower. Actually, people reading the public timeline will think that, too.


Thanking via the @ symbol also helps you to avoid a major problem: fatal auto-direct-message-faux-pax.

angry man woken upYou see, auto DMs don’t always go out immediately; they can take hours to go out. You are almost guaranteed to annoy the hell out of at least one person who receives DMs via cell phone and gets your message at 2am. Yes, they forgot to set their “don’t bother me” schedule, but you know what? That’s your problem. Yes, YOURS. You’re supposed to be doing something nice for them. In fact, you’re probably trying to get them to hire you or buy your product. It’s not smart to do something that has risk of alienating your potential clients.

Now you’re going to ask, couldn’t that happen if I sent the direct message personally? Like, what if they live in Australia or something? Well, yes, that could happen if you send a direct message personally, although it’s far less likely because the whole point of a personalized message is that you have checked them out, and presumably know where they live. But you know how you can be sure that this will never happen? USE THE @REPLY.

clown in a rainbow wig from the illustration about auto direct messagesRegarding the auto-DM illustration above: By now you may be wondering about the Seven Terrible Errors. I could tell you what they are, but that wouldn’t be nearly as fun as having you tell me!

Leave a comment with your list of the Seven Terrible Errors made by Kr-a-zee. Who knows — you may come up with some I hadn’t even considered! The winner will get a Ferrari, although I must disclose that I cannot, at this point, promise that the Ferrari is corporeal.

Have questions? Found the errors? Comments are below!


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Lempert November 20, 2009 at 6:10 pm

I don’t tweet so these are my guesses regarding Kr-a-zee (I can only find 5) …
1) Generic response, not personal at all.
2) You’re not friending, you’re following.
3) Sales pitch in what is supposed to be a thank you note.
4) If you want it to be a sales pitch don’t use Text Messaging Abbreviations
5) If you want it to be a sales pitch don’t use a clown picture. Not very business like.


Angelique November 22, 2009 at 11:02 am

Well, you can’t fault Kr-a-zee for looking like a clown; he can’t help it. But otherwise, you are on the right track. Two more errors are the timing (2am) and the reason for the stinky timing (auto-respond software.) Another error: Using a DM instead of an @ reply.

Okay, so not all of these errors are terrible (right after Kr-a-zee I gave the thumbs-up to two tweeps who use generic auto-messages) but I strive to be like SuperPuppy.


Carol Lynn Rivera August 2, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I love Twitter debates as much as I hate auto DMs! Honestly, I don’t really care if someone thanks me for following. If I baked them a cake, maybe. Sometimes you see people’s Twitter streams and its one long stream of “thanks for following” after another. Kind of silly. But if they must thank, then @ thanking is better. And “I checked your blog out” is pretty much unheard of! I’m going to steal your followers, lol.


Angelique August 3, 2012 at 12:24 am

It would be better if THEY baked YOU a cake to thank you for following. That would be awesome!


Devta August 23, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Hmm, nice.
But what if someone goes viral and get 500 followers the next day?
DM’s seem like the solution then.
And maybe also follow back the good ones.


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