A few days ago, something really unpleasant happened to me on Twitter, and it was unfortunately not the first time. Guess what? I am pretty certain it has happened to you too at least once!
I had just arrived at work, and as I was quietly sipping my fresh glass of sparkling water, I quickly browsed through Twitter and stumbled upon an account that interested me. The user, let’s call him Bob, had a catchy biography about social media, living healthy and being happy. Great! Everything I love! But what especially caught my attention was his absolutely stunning header picture: beautiful mountains bordered by a quiet lake, just like in a dream. No better way to make my day than amazing sceneries! All excited, I followed Bob, realized that he had previously followed me, and sent him a private message in order to say hello and inquire as to where he had shot this breathtaking picture. This is the answer I received:
“You rule! Thank you for the follow. Hope you are having a kick a$$ day! Would love to connect on FB: XXXX”
That got me quite upset! Why? Because there is nothing more irritating than following a new Bob on Twitter and receiving one of those insipid generic answers asking you to follow him on another social media platform! How many new followers received the same message before me? Not really a good way to make your future follower feel special. And did I mention this is a pattern that practically all Twitter users sending generic messages seem to use? “Thank you for following + How are you?/You are awesome! (optional) + Follow me there and there + I like or follow back!” Is this a decent way to socialize with someone you have just digitally met? The answer is NO! It is an egocentric declaration that conveys only one message: your interlocutor does not care about you! And where there is no caring, there is no communication.
The epitome of successful communication
Unfortunately, I have received this sort of generic answer incredibly often on Twitter, and this has always startled me. Every time this happens, the same question comes to my mind: Do you REALLY think that I am going to like you on Facebook or Instagram after basically telling me that all you care about is yourself?
Bob had simply forgotten what I consider to be the very basic rule of human communication: If you do not care about what the person you’re talking to wants or is interested in, then he will not care about what you have to say, and communication is impossible. This is true in our business environment as well. When you want to sell a product or service, what truly matters is not what you have to offer, but if the person in front of you needs what you have to offer! If he doesn’t, you can have the best product or service on the market, but it probably won’t make any difference to him. And there is no better way to know what your client really wants than caring about it.
Give, and only then will you receive
The point that I am trying to make here is very simple: when it comes to communication, whether on social media or with clients, you have to give and only then will you receive. Pay attention to what people want to hear and they will pay attention to what you have to say. Care about what people want and people will care about what you have to offer! Caring, and by this I mean “giving your attention and interest”, is the epitome of successful communication! And it is made all the more valuable in that it allows you to receive precious information about what your interlocutor really needs. In Bob’s case, it was very easy: I just wanted him to tell me where he had seen this amazing landscape. All he had to do was to say “Hi”, answer my question and ask me to follow him on Facebook. And, guess what? I would have done it gladly! But Bob was too busy not caring about what I wanted and thus, failed to make me care about what he wanted.
To conclude, three valuable lessons can be highlighted from my first – and probably last – digital encounter with Bob:
- If you want to communicate better on social media, be social: care about what people want to hear and people will care about what you have to say.
- When someone follows you on Twitter, either send a nice message and start to care about what this person wants or just do nothing. Doing nothing is always better than sending a vapid automatic message.
- Twitter header pictures are a powerful marketing tool, don’t waste them!