No, this is not a blog post for Preparation H. Do not fear.
About a week ago, my friend Chase Adams (@RealChaseAdamas) posed a very interesting question. He said, “How do you handle situations like when someone sends you a DM but you can’t respond because they aren’t following you?”
It’s a great question for two reasons. First, I’m sure a lot of other people have a similar question. Second, it brings to mind all kinds of other uncomfortable situations that can unfold in the crazy world of Social Media.
So sit down on a thumbtack, get a papercut, and let’s talk about how to handle some uncomfortable Social Media scenarios!
Oh Romeo, Romeo, whyfore did you send me a DM when you don’t follow me?
This has happened to me a couple of times in my year-long venture into Twitter world. If you don’t know, a direct message is essentially like an email message, but you can send it within the framework of Twitter. The trick is that you can only send a message to people who are following you. This means that you can send a direct message to someone and then they are not able to respond if you aren’t actually following them.
So what do you do? Here are some ideas. I’d love to hear yours!
• Respond in a vague way in the open stream. This can be difficult if the direct message was asking you something personal, but then, if someone is asking you something personal, they should probably be following you.
• Gently let the person know they’re not following you, and thus you can’t respond. This does not mean that you tweet out something like, “Hey dirt bag, you’re not following me, and therefore, I not only can’t answer your DM, but I’m also going to put a curse on your house, and on your little dog, too!” No, that is not good etiquette at all. Rather, you say something simple like, “Hey so and so, I got your DM but I can’t answer you back. Can you follow me so I can answer?”
• Go to the person’s blog site or web site and see if you can find an email address. This is far out of the public eye, which the person may appreciate. You can even continue your conversation in the comfortable confines of email if you wish. Yay for more than 140 characters!
• Leave a comment on the person’s blog site and work in a quick mention of the DM. Again, don’t do this in a mean way. Just say, “BTW, I got your DM but I think you need to follow me before I can respond.” Easy peasy!
Oh, darn. I seem to be like, totally attacked, Horatio!
A lot of times, when you are working online, it’s easy to assume that someone has been plotting to attack you for, well, maybe years upon years. The major obstacle with online communication is that you can’t really see or hear what the person’s intent is. You don’t get the cue of a facial expression. Those avatars are always smiling at you. Because of this inability to 100% know what someone’s intent is, it is highly advisable to avoid flying off the handle. Sometimes I’ll send something to a friend who I know will be honest with me. “What do you think of this?” I’ll ask, without leading the witness. It’s good to get an outside opinion.
Sometimes, though, it’s pretty hard to avoid the feeling that someone has it out for you. For example, if someone tweets to you, “I have it out for you,” there aren’t too many ways that can be interpreted. So what do you do?
Often times, the best idea is just to let the person vent and scream. Sometimes a friend will intercede on your behalf, but even that can get ugly. The whole flash mob thing gets unattractive when it becomes an insult trading mob. Be like the Fonz. Be cool. Or be like a duck. Let it roll off your back. Remember, unlike in real life, you can just simply walk away from your computer screen to cool down. It won’t follow you, unless you’ve got really weird things going on.
My mind is on my money and my money’s on my mind.
Said Snoop Dogg.
Sometimes people end up spamming you to death. It can be about their super cool new blog post. It can be about a product they’re introducing. It can be about their new child. Well, that one is kind of fun. But anyway, sometimes people get very fixated on what it is they’re trying to accomplish, and they forget that you’re a human being.
In these situations, I generally try 1 of 2 approaches.
Approach 1: Hit ignore button. Rinse. Repeat.
Approach 2: Gently nudge the person, preferably out of the public stream if you can. Again, you want to be very careful with your tonality because people are automatically going to be on the defensive when you critique them. I try to phrase it like, “Hey, I wanted to give you a heads up that you seem to be tweeting a lot about this blog post and it might rub some folks the wrong way. Maybe try to mix it up a bit.”
In the worst case scenario, the person might be really infuriated that you are coaching them, and they might exit from your community. If they were pretty much spamming you non-stop, you may be kind of okay with that. In the best case scenario, the person will thank you for the tip, and you’ll solidify your relationship.
Now it’s your turn!
What prickly situations have you encountered online? How did you deal with them? Let’s talk about it!
This is post #19 in the Engagement Series. Thank you so much for sticking with me!
Image by Thad Zajdowicz. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/thadz