As a user of social networks I am sure you have gotten a message from someone who you just followed. It has some a cookie cutter ‘Thank you for following me…’ message. How often have you read beyond the first sentence? How often do you click on any links with this it? Have you developed a 7th sense in figuring out that this is an auto responder just by looking at an email notification?
When we hear social marketers talk about their ‘auto responder’ strategy – we always ask one question: “How do you measure the impact of these messages”. More frequently then not we hear a response that no such measurement is taking place. Seems and feels like a good idea but no one is really putting effort in understanding the impact.
A simple way to get some reporting from your auto responders is to embed a link and track clicks on that link. You can design an auto response message with a short link (i.e. a Bit.ly link) and then use that short link exclusively with your responder. This will most certainly give you a fairly accurate perspective on people’s reaction to your message.
Auto responding does however violate a fairly fundamental principle of being socially relevant and of being viewed as a source of interesting and valuable information. That principle states that in order to gain following one must be producing content that is truly useful to those who consume it. If the value is there – true following will be built. If however you bombard your followers with canned message, which is very obviously not personal – this is a massive turn off.
It also violates a rather fundamental principle of social interaction in general. People like to be in control of information they get. Their world is comprised on folks they follow and content based on that. Sending them a clearly irrelevant message is an intrusion and will be perceived very negatively.
If you do feel compelled to respond to folks, perhaps due to a well founded business reason – do so in a very personable way – be sure to bring value to your follower with the message you send them.