Why I Stopped Thanking People on the Social Web

markwschaefer
Mark Schaefer Executive Director, Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Posted on August 16th 2013

Why I Stopped Thanking People on the Social Web

no-thank-you

Jack Steiner recently wrote an interesting post about the challenge of the “Twitter thank  you” and it reminded me of my own experience with this issue!

I am a polite person. I think being polite helps the world go around a little easier.

So when my blog posts started to be re-tweeted, I would always thank everyone who re-tweeted me. I thought this was a nice thing to do. Mom would be proud.

It was cool at first and I think it was a good way to reinforce the idea that I noticed and I appreciated the social share. Nothing says “I love you” more than a RT now and then!

Under the 140-character limit, I found that I could thank 5-6 people on average in a single tweet. But as my blog grew in popularity, so did the number of tweets I had to send out. It began to get so overwhelming I would send 10-12 consecutive tweets just thanking people.

And it continued to grow. I actually had my virtual assistant keep up with the ever-expanding list of daily thank-you tweets because this was starting to take up some serious TIME. But I was determined to be polite. I was determined to let every single person know they were appreciated.

And then, it just became annoying. People started to complain. I was sending out too many thank you tweets. Maybe dozens a day.

“You are too damn polite,” one follower wrote me. “Stop thanking people, will you!”

I knew he had a point. I had reached the thank you tipping point. So I stopped.

This saddened me. I hate it that the more popular you become on the social web, the less engaging you can be. Isn’t that ironic? The very characteristic people appreciate is doomed over time. Authentic social media engagement is not scalable.

I still sneak in a “thank you” every now and then. If I see a new person in my stream or an old friend who is a consistent supporter, I’ll tweet a little thanks.

But in the back of my mind I know the Thank You Police are watching … so I moderate how I dispense my praise. On the social web, we can only tolerate politeness in small doses! Right?

And by the way … THANK YOU!

markwschaefer

Mark Schaefer

Executive Director, Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Mark Schaefer is a consultant, author of The Tao of Twitter, and college educator who blogs at www.businessesgrow.com/blog.
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Comments

Nice article Mark - i'm reaching that stage myself now.  I'm polite and I really appreciate all my Twitter followers and those who RT my content and I make sure that I do thank the majority of people but it's getting to the point where it feels like most of my Tweets are now "Thank you's" and they are starting to feel a bit hollow but being polite I am still driven to do it.

I've been considering changing my tactic and every few days or once a week, just saying a big thankn you to everyone who has supported, ReTweeted and followed.  I think for now, whilst it is still just about managable, i'll keep on saying thanks :)

Nice article Mark. Being polite is good but being extra polite gives a false impression also. It is okay to say thank people with a single tweet but consistent thanks will drive them crazy. We must avoide that. 

 

It's tough, Mark!  I have struggled with this too, but I reflect on an experience as a follower.  Back when everyone was using auto-reply on Twitter and then linking it with LinkedIn, one of my contacts, blew up my twitter feed with constant auto-replies that read "Thanks for following, let me know how I can help you be a better you." It was salesy mixed with therapy, and it had a damaging effect on me as a follower. Things got a little worse, it then blew up my LinkedIn because the two platforms were auto-linked by the user. My struggle was I really liked the contact. He's awesome.

One option I've considered is to follow back and retweet content of their's that was relevant to my audience. It's not always possible.

With a smaller network, it is easier to thank for re-posts and re-tweets. But after a certain point, if you are sharing good content that is going viral, it is not going to be feasible to thank all people who share. An occasional thank you post to all sharers over time could be a nice touch.

Couldn't agree more, Mark. Also, when you're sending out dozens of "thank yous" a day (especially in a row), it tends to look insincere regardless of your intentions. So that negates the point anyways!

Sneaky thanking is best. Cheers!