Why I stopped thanking people on the social web

social web

By Mark Schaefer

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!

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