28 Mar Twitter Best Practices: Saying Thank You
Recently, the Gothard Enterprises Twitter account (@GothardELLC) that I manage broke 2,000 followers. Once we broke that milestone, I began investigating exactly what made the account grow. I wanted to figure out the best practices to keep and the unnecessary ones to throw out, so I made a timesheet documenting exactly what I was doing and how long it took. The results were a little surprising to me. I was spending more time thanking people for following, retweeting, adding the company to lists, and mentioning (@-ing) than curating new content and getting new followers. I was literally spending twice the amount of time thanking individual people than providing value to my entire community. Yikes! Something needed to change, so I was off to Google to do some research on Twitter thank you best practices. The purpose of this article is to present you the findings of my research while giving my own opinion on the subject in order to help you develop your own Best Practices for saying Thank You.
Let’s start with a great article I found on Agora Pulse (@AgoraPulse) written by Amanda Webb (@Spiderworking) about Twitter best practices. In the article, Webb starts off by saying “Social Media is all about building relationships.” Webb points out that when someone follows you, shares or retweets your content or mentions you in a tweet, they are showing interest; this is analogous to a customer walking into your shop! A great way to start building relationships is by having meaningful conversations, and what better way to strike up a conversation than by expressing gratitude? A simple thank you can go a long way in helping you connect with real people. Sounds great in theory, and when you first start growing an account you will easily be able to keep up with everyone. However, once you start seeing 20+ notifications every single time you log on, it starts to get overwhelming. Instead of dealing with them all, it would be a lot more beneficial for you to come up with a strategy for when to say thank you; as Webb puts it, you need to decide how much “thank you time” works for you. Below is a screenshot from the original article on Webb’s strategy for where she allocates her thank you time.
She decided what her most important metrics are, and now encourages growth in those metrics through strategic thank you’s. Upon a quick inspection of Ms. Webb’s personal Twitter account, she not only talks the talk but she walks the walk. Does it work for anyone else besides her? Seen below is a screenshot taken directly off of Twitter showing an example of a positive interaction that has immense conversation starting potential.
In this situation everyone wins. Not only does my company get to share valuable information with our community, but we also get a chance to shout out and establish a relationship with the author. Andrew had somebody else share his content to their following, and took advantage of a great opportunity to start developing a relationship with my company. Next time my company is looking for an article to share, we’d be a lot more inclined to share something that Andrew wrote because of the positive experience we had the last time. Before we move onto the next article, let’s recap!
Building relationships is a crucial part of Social Media
Thanking people for engaging with you is a great way to promote further engagement
Having a strategy for thanking people will help you focus on your efforts and save time
The next article I found was written by Evan LePage (@EvanLePage) on Hootsuite (@hootsuite) about thanking Social Media followers the right way. Like Webb, LePage opens the article by saying “Social Media is at its best when you’re actually being social, connecting with others of different stripes in different places across the globe.” In other words, Social Media is about building relationships and connections! He goes on to say that a crucial part of those connections involves thanking people that help drive brand awareness, or, as Webb put it, show interest. LePage thanks Tweeps in three basic, effective ways. First is a simple “thank you” tweet, but with a subtle twist. Instead of clogging up other people’s feeds with a stream of thank you’s, he directly tweets to the person or replies to the share, retweet or mention. “With all of the active tweeting and engaging on Social Media everyday,” says LePage, “a direct reply can really help to distinguishes that individual, separating them from the pack and showing that their own efforts stood out and had value.” He goes on to give a few quick tips on the subject:
A “Thanks!” message is good, but a personalized message is far, far better
Refer to people by their name, not their Twitter handle
Acknowledge peoples’ great tweets
Offer an additional resource
Try to instigate more conversation
Like and/or retweet any tweets that share your content or mention you
Just remember! If you are going to be mass thanking people, space those tweets out or schedule them for low traffic times so you don’t drown your feed with content that isn’t valuable to your entire community.
The second way to thank Tweeps is to follow them back! I agree with Lepage when he says that “a follow is a silent but powerful way of saying thanks, especially if you have a big brand behind you.” While there’s no definitive rule for following back, I’ve noticed that an overwhelming majority of Tweeps who have unfollowed the Gothard Enterprises account were those who I did not follow back. So more follow backs = more long-term followers? I don’t know for sure, but that is definitely the trend I’ve noticed on my own accounts. Regardless, if someone is sharing or retweeting your content, mentioning you in a tweet, or engaging with you in general, they are actively helping to drive brand awareness and showing interest independently of your direct actions. As far as a following goes, this seems like an ideal candidate. Following them back is a great way to start building a rapport with them and, according to LePage, “turn a basic connection into something more meaningful and maybe even turn a follower into an evangelist for your brand.” Before you follow back, however, be sure to check their account for industry or product relevance (not crucial, but helpful for a targeted following), active tweeting, and spam. A quick perusal of their account will suffice and can help you construct an engaged, active and relevant network.
Lepage’s final way to thank Tweeps is to share their content, and this one is my personal favorite. While a number of Twitter users send thank you messages and an occasional follow back, significantly fewer retweet or share the content of their Tweeps. This is a great way to help develop relationships with other Twitter users since you are helping them reach your community. The advantage of this strategy is felt on both sides. Your Tweeps will appreciate you sharing their content with your community, especially if they have a smaller following than you. As LePage points out, “an amateur blogger getting a shout-out from a major brand can be a significant moment for that individual.” You benefit from sharing their content with your community because it adds value to them. At the same time taking you are taking advantage of an opportunity to establish a relationship with a real person. Also, by sharing their content, you are inadvertently encouraging them to share your content as well. Everybody wins!
Before we move on, let’s recap!
Building relationships is a critical aspect of Social Media (sound familiar?)
Thanking followers is good, but thanking them the right way is great
Three ways to thank followers the right way include direct tweets/replies, following back, and sharing their content
This next article I want to share with you was written by Nicole Kohler (@nicoleckohler) on Buffer (@buffer) about 3 data-backed Twitter strategies for more followers, better tweets, and maximum engagement. The reason I wanted to share this particular article was because of Kohler’s first strategy: say “thank you.” Since making her own account, she has tried to consistently thank everyone who shares her content. Regardless of who shared her stuff, she claims that showing gratitude doesn’t just make her feel good, it makes them feel good too! Kohler goes on to say “but there’s more to it than that: gratitude also boosts your Twitter engagement exponentially.” Exponentially? That’s a bold claim, so she did some research into her own tweets. She exported tweet data from Twitter Analytics into an excel sheet, highlighting tweets where she thanked those that shared her content. Seen below is what the highlighted list looked like and the results of the experiment.
Incredible! In her case, by simply expressing gratitude to those who shared her content, there was a 1 in 4 (25%) chance of them following. Seems like saying thank you pays off.
As far as my own personal “thank you” strategy, it has been constantly changing over time. When I first started the Gothard Enterprises Twitter account, I thanked everybody for most things, including when the handle was mentioned, got new followers, or added to lists. This strategy worked very well, especially thanking people for list additions because it was blasted out to the whole list which was a great way to reach a lot of people despite having few followers. Just a word of caution, if the list is not appropriate for you (e.g. librarians-list when you are a Social Media Marketer), I would not recommend thanking the owner of that list for adding you to it. I digress.
This strategy of individually thanking everyone was effective until the account reached about 500 followers, at which point I had to stop thanking people for individual mentions due to time restraints. Instead, I would just “like” mentions (at that time it was “favorite”), and focus on individually thanking people for following and adding the handle to lists. To make that time spent more valuable, however, I made sure to retweet any valuable content from their feed. This worked for a while, but around the time the account reached 1,000 followers, the account was being added to an exorbitant amount of lists at a time.
As a result, I had to stop thanking people for list additions due to time restraints, but kept the rest of the strategy steady. From 1,000 to 1,500 followers, I noticed that it was a struggle to keep up with the individual thank you’s and that it was seriously detracting from the time I could allocate to providing new content to the rest of my community. As a result, I started grouping accounts together and saying thank you to people in bulk. NOT GOOD! Once I started doing that, it was a meaningless routine that I only did because I had been doing it. At around 2,000, as I mentioned earlier, I reevaluated my methods through research and developed a new strategy for saying thank you:
- Instead of thanking each follower, thank specific followers who are directly related to the Social Media Marketing industry and add them to lists that are appropriate for them
- Always thank those that share my original content
- Always “like” mentions of @GothardELLC
- Always retweet original content that is valuable to my community from the feeds of new followers
- Curate unoriginal content and add the author(s)’ tags from the feeds of new followers
- Personalize interactions whenever applicable
While there certainly could be more efficient or effective processes, I wanted to give you my genuine guidelines as to what I do for @GothardELLC. Webb’s insight helped me focus my gratitude and LePage’s helped me figure out how to express it. Hopefully you can improve on your own strategy and processes from the information in this article. Thanks for reading!
Kohler, Nicole. “3 Data-Backed Twitter Strategies for More Followers, Better Tweets.” Buffer. Buffer, 28 Oct. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2016. <https://blog.bufferapp.com/twitter-strategies>.
LePage, Evan. “How to Thank Social Media Followers the Right Way.” Hootsuite. Hootsuite, 28 Nov. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2016. <https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-thank-social-media-followers/>.
Webb, Amanda. “Twitter Best Practices: Why, When And How To Say “Thank You” To Your Followers.” AgoraPulse. AgoraPulse, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2016. <http://www.agorapulse.com/blog/Twitter-Best-Practices-Say-Thank-You>.
Author: Ben Gothard, @BenPGothard
Published by: Gothard Enterprises LLC, @GothardELLC
Date Published: March 27, 2016