Anyone who’s ever followed anyone on Twitter will be aware of my biggest pet peeve about the world’s leading micro-blogging service: impersonal, automated Direct Messages, or DMs, thanking you when you follow (i.e. subscribe to the updates of) a fellow Twitter user. Perhaps the worst of these canned-ham responses are the ones immediately inviting you to join the person you’ve just followed on Facebook.
The assumption seems to be all social networking sites are the same: if you like me here, you’ll love me over there. The Internet is a bad place to make assumptions like that. Twitter and Facebook couldn’t be farther apart in the ways–and the whys–their respective communities mingle with each other. Here are four reasons why bloggers using Twitter shouldn’t push their Facebook pages on their followers, told from the perspective of a hapless new follower.
1. I Hate Form Letters
And so does everyone else. I’m not looking for your gratitude that I followed you, I’m looking for your opinion and hoping that together we’ll be a part of a shared community. And really, how sincere is a thank-you DM when you don’t even know who you’re sending it to?
2. I Just Walked in the Door and You’re Sending Me Somewhere Else
I sought you out on Twitter because I was curious to know more about you and your worldview. I just clicked on the Follow button. I’m now probably happily reading through your past tweets and hoping to get the chance to engage with you in the forum where I found you. So why is your first message to me telling me to leave and go engage with you somewhere else? If you were really serious about making me a member of your blog audience, wouldn’t you want to use this opportunity to tell me about your blog–or better yet, ask me my opinion of it? You know, right here on Twitter?
3. What Makes You Think I Want to Be an Instant Friend/Fan?
Twitter and Facebook are not the same thing. Let me repeat that, Twitter and Facebook are not the same thing. Twitter is the cash-bar cocktail party in the lobby shared with acquaintances and strangers weaving in and out of momentarily interesting conversations. Facebook is the private room upstairs where your closest friends and fans share bottle service. I just met you at the party. Unless you know me or at least know who I am–and again, you obviously don’t, since you sent me an automated DM–why are you asking me to follow you home? What makes you think I want that kind of instant intimacy?
4. How Do You Know I Don’t Already Know You on Facebook?
Finally, since your message to me was an automated one, you obviously haven’t taken the time to notice who I am in the first place. Am I a colleague, friend, acquaintance, or someone whose attention you’ve been trying to attract? If that’s who I turn out to be, how impressed do you think I was finding an depersonalized junk DM in my inbox? And how embarrassed are you now?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on automated DMs serving as Facebook invitations. Please opine in the comment thread as the spirit moves you.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.