You’re Not As Dumb As We Think You Are!

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We’re all laughing at you behind your back. It’s true. I know that’s pretty rude of me to say but I couldn’t hold it in any longer. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll probably get in trouble once everyone else finds out that I told you. We had a pact.

It’s nothing personal. I’m sure that you think that you are a Twitter ninja. That you pretty much have everything under control. That you’re a pro. After all, you have over 500 people following you! That’s a lot of eyeballs! And that’s what makes this so hard.

We’re not following you. We’re using you. Some of us follow you simply because you follow us. Others follow you because you have a large following that we want to tap into. And the rest don’t even realize they are following you.

We all have one thing in common. We’re not listening. And it’s not because there is so much noise out there. Or even because we’re not that interested in what you have to say. It’s because we think you are dumb. At least that’s how you come across. Deep down inside we know that you aren’t, but the things that you say and do project an overwhelming stench of dumbassery.

This won’t go away on its own, so please allow me to share some of the things that are the worst offenders. Stop doing them and hopefully you will be able to pick up the shattered pieces of your Twitter reputation.

Direct Messages

There is a very special place in hell (right next to the guy that wrote the “Hot Pockets” jingle) for those who send out auto direct messages to each new follower.

Direct messages are a great tool to use. But not abuse. They are meant as a way to privately Tweet someone that you already have a relationship with in an attempt to build a stronger relationship. The keyword phrase in that sentence is: someone that you already have a relationship with. Just to give you an idea as to how important that phrase is, I am going to say it again only this time in all caps because I can’t physically grab you by the collar and shout it:

SOMEONE THAT YOU ALREADY HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH!!!

And that does not include someone that just started following you in real-time. Sending a direct message to a complete stranger asking them to follow you on Facebook or check out your blog is the digital equivalent of walking up to someone you are attracted to at a bar and asking them to buy you a drink without even introducing yourself.

You are only to use Direct Messages to strengthen relationships that you already have. Period. And if you do continue this charade of sending out spammy DM’s, just know that we will be forced to hunt you down and bitch slap you well into next week.

Thanks for the Follow

This one comes in a few different flavors. You have the “Thanks for following”, the “Thanks for following, check out my blog” and then of course for those that can’t actually spell the word follow or are just too lazy to try, you have “Thanks for the flw!” This half-assed attempt at being grateful to someone for following you shows absolutely zero effort or originality. And it gives no reason to remember who you are or have any interest in what you have to say. Ever.

Instead, take a few seconds out of your incredibly important day and read their profile. Check out their website. Learn something about them. Anything. It shouldn’t take more than 5 seconds. And then thank them for following you by making mention of it. It’s just about being interested in what they are doing instead of expecting them to magically be interested in you.

Guess what happens when you do this? You stand out like a green hat with an orange bill (I have no idea what that means, but thanks Eminen). While everyone else is sending group thank you’s, you are making an attempt to get to know them. And when you show an interest in someone they will almost always respond by showing an interest in you. It’s human nature. It’s what we do in person. Why would Twitter be any different?

Thanks for Sharing

The same exact rules apply here so I won’t bore you with a repeat of the previous section. Just make your thank you’s specific. Use their name. Compliment them. Ask them how you can return the favor. Figure out a way to give back to them. If all you do is take, eventually they are going to move on to the next blogger…yeah, that’s right there are other bloggers out there.

Follow Friday

Follow Friday could be a pretty cool concept if people actually did it right. Unfortunately they don’t. When you post #FF and then a series of usernames, the only people that care are on the list. What good does that do you? It makes you feel warm and fuzzy for a few seconds. Woo hoo!

Why not pick one or two people that you really like to follow instead and send out a separate Tweet for each and tell us why we should follow them? For example:

Looking for an overly snarky look at everything you should be doing in life & business? Follow @marcensign #FF

Yeah, you can Tweet that right now if you want to. I won’t be mad. Even if it isn’t Friday.

Anyway, a couple of good things come from doing it this way. First, you are actually adding value to your followers by helping them determine whether this person is someone they would find interesting. Second, you are adding value to the person you mentioned because they are likely to increase their following. And third, they are likely to Retweet your post since you said something really nice, thus introducing you to their followers which could likely increase your following. It’s a win-win-win.

And for those that don’t play nice? I suggest we start #UW for Unfollow Wednesday.

TrueTwit Validation

This has got to be the stupidest thing I have ever seen. If you don’t know what TrueTwit is, it goes something like this. I follow you. But instead of following you, I get a direct message from a third party asking me to confirm. I click on the link and get sent on some wild goose chase in order to have the luxury of being able to listen to what senseless drivel you bring to the conversation. So not only are you breaking the first rule of sending out an auto DM but you are making me jump through hoops in order to follow you. So guess what I do? I delete your DM and forget that you ever existed. And so you have officially lost a potentially valuable follower. Congrats!

Why would you do that? Who cares if people are following you? If you want full control over who follows you, get the heck off Twitter and go back to Facebook.

Tweet Link-less and Quote-less

I’m pretty sure there are other options besides Tweeting either a link or an inspirational quote that you found in a fortune cookie and pretend to live by. You could actually say stuff too. Interesting stuff. Funny stuff. Sarcastic stuff. Or even just state the fact that you have nothing of any value to say.

Doing this starts something called a conversation. That’s when two or more people are talking with each other. It’s actually pretty cool. I highly recommend it. You see, when you post a link it requires that people read your content and Retweet it. Same with a quote. The only thing left to do is retweet them. It’s not like you are going to improve on that Gandhi quote or anything.

Both of these are one-sided communications…there is little reason to respond. You are standing in front of the room talking at everyone instead of talking with everyone. Big difference. Instead, say something. Ask a question. Start a conversation.

Now Go Ahead On with Your Twitterific Self

There are more. Don’t worry. There will probably be a part 2 of this post eventually. But for now, fix this stuff and you are well on your way.

Look, you are smarter than this. We both know that. And you are missing out on a lot of really great people out there. You don’t have to be the dumb annoying person that we see you as. It’s not too late. Heed the warning. Change your ways. Join the rest of us humans that use Twitter as a way to build actual relationships. And stop worrying about the numbers. We are not numbers. We are people. My name is Marc, not 2,6504,666. What’s yours?

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  • http://twitter.com/Sarahsreading Sarah Penner

    Another good one Marc. I especially agree with the Direct Message directive. I tend to ignore those who message me a generic link. Especially if I take the time to respond to them and hear nothing in return. Ugh. Keep going Mr. Snarky! I also totally tweeted that awesome tweet!

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thank you Sarah! People that blindly use DM’s in order to get someone to like them on Facebook or whatever are beyond me. I don’t get it. I can’t imagine a situation where that actually works and yet so many people do it. I figured we needed someone to slap them on the hand with the ruler and I was just the one to do it!

  • http://www.drmichellemazur.com/ Michelle_Mazur

    I need to tweet link-less more. It’s a goal of mine, but being on Triberr it’s sometimes hard. There is so much great content that I love to share it. I do my best to engage. Always could be better.

    The Follow Friday thing – totally agree. When I decide to do #ff, I try to state a reason why I am suggesting people. I learned this technique from Michele Price (propseritygirl) on Twitter. Saying why you puffy heart #ff someone is much more impactful to your followers and meaningful for the person you #ff.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      you could continue to tweet as many links are you are now if you just tweet more “stuff” to dilute it a bit. I hate going through peoples tweets to find something to engage with them about and having to go back 3 or 4 days for the last tweet that wasn’t a push to click on a link.

      As for the #ff you are doing it right! I remember that one you did with me and Rachel. It was very complimentary and not only got retweeted by us both but started a fun conversation! That’s how you do it!

  • http://inboundmarketingnj.com/ Jason Diller

    #ff shouldn’t suck…but it does.

    I would rather do what Chris Brogan did and just remove all of his followers and start at 0.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      I don’t know if that’s the answer either. Chris has a huge following and could gain them back overnight. You and I would have a harder time. You are better off using a tool like http://www.manageflitter.com which is free and will check and remove fake accounts, accounts in ndifferent languages, people that haven’t tweeted in 30+ days, etc.

  • http://twitter.com/MattLBrennan Matt Brennan

    I’m with Michelle. I probably tweet way too many links. Something to think about. Good post.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      That’s an easy fix! Just start engaging more by tweeting stuff that could potentially start a conversation. It will also give you an idea who is actually listening to you. When you tweet a question and no one responds it’s time to change your strategy because people have turned you off.

  • http://twitter.com/universeocean Timothy J. Lytle

    Hey Marc, great post! I’m trying to follow your advice – can you explain that conversation thing again? Isn’t that where you set up a totally not annoying auto tweet to go out at least once an hour telling your followers to buy your product? ;)

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Every time you send out an auto tweet every hour you kill a kitten. So, if you want to kill lots of cute little kittens, go for it! But it’s not going to help you in the long run…or short run. Think of Twitter as being the watercooler of this generation. Monday morning you get to work, head over to the watercooler or coffee machine and start a conversation with someone. You don’t go into a sales pitch or try and get them to read your blog. You ask simple questions. Say something funny. Comment on something that’s happened. Etc.

  • http://twitter.com/lauriesauers Laurie Sauers

    Thanks Marc. I’m fairly new at this twitter thing – thanks for the, well said, easy to understand and follow, tips!

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thanks Laurie! Since you’re new, here is the best piece of advice I have for you. Don’t forget that you are human. And don’t forget that we’re human too. Keep that inn mind when interacting. If you wouldn’t say it in person or paint it on a billboard in the town your mom lives, then you probably shouldn’t Tweet it.

  • http://twitter.com/JGoodTO Jamie Good

    I loved this post! Such a welcome viewpoint on the Twitterverse! I actually unfollowed someone just before reading it for too many useless quotes clogging up my feed. And I was thinking of how maybe I should let people know why I’m unfollowing them so that maybe they will consider and stop their ‘dumbassery’… ;-)

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      It’s not worth it. Trust me. A few months ago I wrote this post: http://www.marcensign.com/me-me-me-i-i-i/ and every time I got an auto DM asking me to follow the on Facebook I responded with a link to that post. I think I had one or two intelligent conversations while everyone else either ignored it or called me an asshole. Some people just don’t get it.

  • Lynn Santin

    Marc, this is ANOTHER great post. I started doing these stupid things, because it seemed like everyone else was tweeting links and quotes. I lemminged-out. Totally. Like Laurie, I am also new to Twitter, and find your posts very helpful. Is Twitter the mirror to who we really are? Do most people have nothing to say? I love reading things that stop me in my tracks and make me exclaim, “SEE! you feel like a complete jerk, because you are being a complete jerk!” Your post did this. Thank you.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thank you Lynn! We’re all guilty of it at one point or another. Half the time I write this stuff is to hold myself accountable and constantly remind myself not to follow the herd. It’s tough. But those that take a different approach will succeed in the end! At least you are open to doing it differently. Most aren’t. That in and of itself is worth a round of applause!

  • http://www.websitebegin.com Joe Boyle

    The moreover effort for people to make me feel welcome to their social accounts is pretty disturbing – it nearly doesn’t exist. To a lot of people, I’m just another number to gloat about, statistic, or even demographic.

    I keep the people that I follow to a pretty low number – I’m at about 80 right now, and those are people that I actually enjoy reading from. I value their links, view on things, and all of that other fancy jazz (including you). I’ve run tests for other twitter accounts I’ve made (purely to see how things turned out) where I followed thousands upon thousands of people to see the return. As you may expect, I received thousands upon thousands of followers. But so what? They weren’t useful, they spammed me with auto-DM, and offered nearly zero content to me. They were just numbers.

    I’ve stopped tweeting links as much, because I’ve been doing something much more often – following certain search queries and tweeting the people in them. Engaging. Offering a hand. Offering some praise when they did something good. Making connections. I have a handful of followers from doing so, and they generally are some of my favourite to see – they offer some pretty cool stuff.

    Great post, Marc. I now am going to go cry and ask for forgiveness from Twitter for their awful users.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thanks Joe! It is disturbing when you look at the entire landscape. All of the companies selling followers. People focused on numbers. Spamming links. Even major companies suck at it. And yet, all it comes down to is being human.

      The only thing I disagree with to some point…at least for my needs…is keeping your following and followers so low. NOT because of the numbers but because of the people. I started put keeping it very low and I liked the intimacy of it all. But eventually I started seeking out very specific people and in doing that connected with some GREAT people that I wouldn’t have otherwise known. You bing one of them.

      To some people, yes you are a number. To others like me you are not. Don’t punish those out there like me because of those that just see you as a notch in their belt!

  • Linda Doty

    Hey! I read it and I think I’m doing OK…. good to know. Ha.

    The interesting thing to me is the concept of “doing it wrong” changes for different groups. For example, the comedians like a pure retweet – don’t go fucking around with their tweet, don’t modify it, don’t quote-tweet. They want you to share their tweet with your followers. A manual tweet is considered rude. BUT – I think when I converse with social-media types, the manual tweet is actually appreciated. It may get more traction with your followers because you’ve added your endorsement to it in a few words.

    I haven’t read the other comments yet, because I’m a narcissist. Maybe later, but I’m busy giving myself a pedicure now. ;)

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      That’s good to know! I think I’ll go mess with a bunch of comedians and manually retweet their stuff!!

  • Daren Doucet

    I got a pile of authors following me, cat. I equally follow them back. Lucky to have that kind of group on twitter. That is some fantastic! It is kind of like a “Band of Brothers”, except facing no threat as brutal. Thank Goodness! Very kind, awesome talented people, but allot of advertising, like yours truly too. Are they trying to morph me, or am I trying to morph them lol Next blog can you do a Morphing one?

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Hopefully you are trying to morph them…be the leader! Show them to the promised land!

  • Steve VanHove

    Awesomeness, Marc.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thanks Steve!!!!

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