Monday, 25 March 2013

#GoodIdeaBadIdea: Saying 'hello' on Twitter

Edit: Luke Williams has offered a very insightful comment below on his experience, well worth a read.

For people of a certain age (roughly my age), the term 'Good Idea, Bad Idea' will bring back memories of  the juxtaposition and acting out of of two phrases, often using the same words, but in a different order, leading to hilarious consequences.

Yes, I did watch Animaniacs, and I hope you did too (If not, here's a good intro).

Anyway, I reckon the 'Good Idea, Bad Idea' concept could work really well when a applied to social media, I doubt I can do it as well as our friends at Warner Bros did, but here's my first stab: Saying hello to someone on Twitter.

Good Idea

Have you  just followed someone? Why not say 'hello', let them know why you've followed them, although, this isn't essential, it is polite to say hello, and that could be the start of an amazing conversation.

Has somebody followed you? If so, check out their bio and recent tweets, if you're happy that they aren't a bot, and that you might share some mutual interests, why not say 'hello'? Ask them about what they do, or tell them a little about yourself, or the nature of your tweets (just don't spam them).

Bad Idea

Setup an auto-DM to send to people as they follow your account.

Ever followed someone to receive an alert shortly afterwards? You reopen Twitter (or check your email) with eager anticipation thinking; "Has this person/org just reached out to me, do they care about me, about what I do?", and then you read something along the lines of:
"Thanks for following us on Twitter, like us on Facebook here / sign up for alerts here" 
Oh, I guess they don't care...

Thankfully most accounts I've followed recently haven't done this, but some have, and some of those are major organisations that should know better. For me, it creates an instant sour taste, it makes me regret trying to make that connection.

A personal response after a follow is great, but you don't necessarily expect that after following the account of a large organisation, and that's fine. But one thing I hate is an automated DM. I would rather have had no response.


People like people, people don't like bots. People like real interaction, they don't like automated messages. People certainly don't like spam.

Say hello, and don't auto-DM

And finally...

If this post has left you with a hankering for Animaniacs, here you go:


  1. Good post and I used to completely agree with you... until... we discussed using an auto-DM with a thank you + discount on our store.

    I was VERY sceptical and resisted at first, but I'm willing to try experiments, so it came down to 3 things:
    1) measuring to see if people unfollowed (they didn't)
    2) measuring to see if people used the code (they did)
    3) looking for any negative replies (there weren't any, not one in over 2000 new followers)

    I think your post is still generally true but if you offer something that most will value as a thank you for following rather than something that benefits you, and people trust you enough or know who you are as an organisation/person then it's no different to having a well worded confirmation from an online store - do you object to those?

    My mind has been won over by the results. I like being proved wrong... sometimes ;-)

  2. I love nothing better than to be proven wrong too Luke, thanks.

    I can't argue with data, and I don't have any problem with a well worded confirmation from an online store.

    I guess, from my point of view, it depends on what you expect from a DM - I have yet to receive a DM that has enriched my relationship with an organisation *Follows RNLI*, but I have received too many (some from large UK vol sec orgs) that are, in effect, an additional and impersonal ask.

    It's certainly very interesting to see that positioned correctly, in the right context and with an appropriate ask and offer, the automated DM can be a positive tool.

    Cheers Luke, great comment, and thanks for taking the time too :)