Twitter Trifles: A Follower Conundrum

Jun 24, 2010   //   by Gina Stark   //   SEO Blog  //  37 Comments

So I’m thinking we need a secret code. Something to discretely notify someone that they’re not following you but they sure act like they think they are and engage with you!  OK, I know this is petty…am I forgiven if I admit that straight out of the gate? I wrote about similar Twitter trifles once before, but now I’d like to address the sweet oblivious tweeter. You all have at least a few of them…people who retweet you, mention you, recommend you as someone to follow, and even send you hugs and smooches! And yet…they’re not even following you. How embarrassing! How to cyber nudge them to correct what is likely an oversight whilst saving face for yourself and them?

The irony is that this is precisely the type of message that should be whispered in private…and on Twitter, that means a DM or direct message…but if they’re not following you…you CAN’T send such a message! Ugh! What to do? How to remedy this awkward social media situation?

*Special note to Alyssa Milano – If you would only follow me, I could answer all of your imploring inquiring direct messages about your career path. I mean, I would be happy to help you with that if you would only allow me to reply.

I think we need to put this up for a vote. I have come up with a few invaluable ideas:

  1. Tweet: *nudge nudge* Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon–I mean, would you like to follow me?
  2. Ask a friend to mention it to them in DM…is this high school, or what?
  3. Tweet: Hey, ummm, Gerald, can you follow me so I can DM you? I have a really good stock tip :}
  4. Unfollow and then follow them again. They’ll see you as a “new” follow and will see they don’t follow you. Whereas this would likely do the trick, it may initiate some head scratching…you know, get them wondering why you didn’t resort to option #1
  5. We could always come up with a really subtle, sophisticated code or hashtag to use to avoid any unpleasantries inherent in a virtual knock on the head. I’ve given it a lot of thought and consideration to capture the feel of the friendly and unimposing tone we’d like to convey. Something along the lines of: #HeyYouDopeYoureNotEvenFollowingMeDuh!

But then, in the whole scheme of things, does it really mater? I mean, they laugh with you, they share your posts and make comments, recommend you on Follow Friday, maybe even send you virtual hugs. It would be kind of funny if you left it status quo and one day they DM you a question or comment and you’re left resorting to posting on the stream, hat in hand… “ummm…errr…dearest friend, I would be happy to answer your DM if you were following me” :D So, what do you say…number 5 is the best one, right? Dare me to use it? (Please don’t!) Thanks to my new friend, fellow G, for inviting me to tarnish his pristine reputation for high standards in blogging with my guest post. And thank you for reading and not immediately unfollowing me :-) I encourage you to contribute your suggestions for follow nudging diplomacy: useful, useless and everywhere in between.

Also please cast your vote in the tweet poll below.



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Gina Stark

Gina is a dabbler. She dabbled in college, she dabbled in public service and has dabbled in various businesses, including building up and selling an upscale retail boutique. This new-found freedom enabled her to "head for the hills" and settle in a lovely alpine town in Southern California where she now dives deeply into dance, hiking, travel and general socializing, including social media (as SuuperG on Twitter) and blogging about her dabbling.

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  • Michael Sarles AKA says:

    It is a mingling of the G's! I loved this post and can totally identify with the conundrum. I have encountered this and found myself going through similar thought processes in wondering how to deal with this situation or if I even should. The dare devil in me wants to try them all and see what works ;) Let me know how your career counseling with Alyssa Milano goes. Thank you Gina for this post and thank you Gerald for having one of my favorite bloggers on your awesome blog!

    • Gina Stark says:

      Thanks so muuchly Michael, for your generous and funny comments. I love that! A mingling of the Gs…yes, we are a force to be reckoned with – haha. I think my G represents a bit of the goof :) Here’s to the dare devil in all of us…whether skydiving or boldly using hashtags on Twitter! ;) Cheers my friend, G(ina)

  • Michael Sarles AKA says:

    It is a mingling of the G’s! I loved this post and can totally identify with the conundrum. I have encountered this and found myself going through similar thought processes in wondering how to deal with this situation or if I even should. The dare devil in me wants to try them all and see what works ;) Let me know how your career counseling with Alyssa Milano goes. Thank you Gina for this post and thank you Gerald for having one of my favorite bloggers on your awesome blog!

    • Gina Stark says:

      Thanks so muuchly Michael, for your generous and funny comments. I love that! A mingling of the Gs…yes, we are a force to be reckoned with – haha. I think my G represents a bit of the goof :) Here’s to the dare devil in all of us…whether skydiving or boldly using hashtags on Twitter! ;) Cheers my friend, G(ina)

  • Gina, I have inadvertently been on the receiving end!

    As I am still feeling my way I thanked someone for following and said I was following back but then forgot to click 'Follow'

    A while later I got a mention from them "I have a beef with you, wish to DM"

    That got my attention, who had I upset? Had I printed something I shouldn't? Was I going to be in court??

    It turned out to just be a way of giving me a poke to remind me, one apology later and all was well.

    So the direct approach worked with me but I suppose there was a danger that I might just panicked and run away! So I suppose I would have to say my vote goes to Number 5, but perhaps with a bit of a softer edge?

    Great post Gina as always :-)

    Tony

    • Gina Stark says:

      Tennnnyyyy! I mean Tony! Thank you for your comments :) How nice that you found me over here and shared your experience. I do agree a gentle *nudge* is totally appropriate and often welcome by a person who you are on friendly terms with. I did once cry in my beer (more like Mike's hard limeade) to someone for unfollowing me…I made it purposely a bit dramatic as we was a fun and funny follower and he "remedied" it right away. :) I think some people might be relieved and pleased that you think enough of their followship ;) that you make the effort to inquire. I guess I find general public "follow me back" comments annoying, and so wish to avoid that category of communication. I cannot imagine anyone getting or staying peeved at you! Thanks for your awesomeness – on your blog, on Twitter and wherever you make an appearance! :) Cheers and huugs to you, my friend! Gina

  • Gina, I have inadvertently been on the receiving end!

    As I am still feeling my way I thanked someone for following and said I was following back but then forgot to click ‘Follow’

    A while later I got a mention from them “I have a beef with you, wish to DM”

    That got my attention, who had I upset? Had I printed something I shouldn’t? Was I going to be in court??

    It turned out to just be a way of giving me a poke to remind me, one apology later and all was well.

    So the direct approach worked with me but I suppose there was a danger that I might just panicked and run away! So I suppose I would have to say my vote goes to Number 5, but perhaps with a bit of a softer edge?

    Great post Gina as always :-)

    Tony

    • Gina Stark says:

      Tennnnyyyy! I mean Tony! Thank you for your comments :) How nice that you found me over here and shared your experience. I do agree a gentle *nudge* is totally appropriate and often welcome by a person who you are on friendly terms with. I did once cry in my beer (more like Mike’s hard limeade) to someone for unfollowing me…I made it purposely a bit dramatic as we was a fun and funny follower and he “remedied” it right away. :) I think some people might be relieved and pleased that you think enough of their followship ;) that you make the effort to inquire. I guess I find general public “follow me back” comments annoying, and so wish to avoid that category of communication. I cannot imagine anyone getting or staying peeved at you! Thanks for your awesomeness – on your blog, on Twitter and wherever you make an appearance! :) Cheers and huugs to you, my friend! Gina

  • I have people that don't follow me, but connect with me daily, but they have me listed. Maybe that is the situation. They have to be tracking you somehow ;-)

    There is a twitter glitch that will actually unfollow people by accident. Maybe they don't realize they unfollowed you, so I see nothing wrong with a polite public mention, like " Was this a twitter glitch unfollowing or shall I cry now?" (That actually worked for me last week when my friends at Newsweek unfollowed me during a twitter glitch.)

    I blame autofollow software for many of these glitches, as I have not had issues since I stopped using it nearly 8 months ago. But if it's someone you regularly chat with daily, telling them in public that you tried to DM them, but couldn't with the appropriate sad face could easily rectify the issue, or at least enlighten you as to their reasons for not following. And maybe even teach you something. ;-)

    • Gina Stark says:

      Helloooo Susan and thanks so muuchly for adding your insights and experience. So true, they must track you if they can see you show up in their stream. I love your public mention…I've done something similar with positive results. I don't use auto follow software, but I HAVE had someone notify me that they had been unlisted (I don't even track such things for myself) and he seemed so concerned (in DM) that he had somehow offended me. I effusively thanked him for communicating to me so that I could remedy it and by NO means had he "fallen out of favor". He sends me cheerful smiley butterfly links to say good morning – are you KIDDING?!? Who would ever ditch this friend?! lol :) I think what I'm saying is…I deplore the silent treatment and pouting. I am a believer in communication and it looks like you are too. Always approach the person and mention the oversight or even an apparent "slight"…it will likely turn out to be inadvertent, but like you say, there may be a reason you were unfollowed and you may learn something. Thanks for the thoughtful contribution. You are a GREAT contributor :) Huugggs and cheers, Gina

  • I have people that don’t follow me, but connect with me daily, but they have me listed. Maybe that is the situation. They have to be tracking you somehow ;-)

    There is a twitter glitch that will actually unfollow people by accident. Maybe they don’t realize they unfollowed you, so I see nothing wrong with a polite public mention, like ” Was this a twitter glitch unfollowing or shall I cry now?” (That actually worked for me last week when my friends at Newsweek unfollowed me during a twitter glitch.)

    I blame autofollow software for many of these glitches, as I have not had issues since I stopped using it nearly 8 months ago. But if it’s someone you regularly chat with daily, telling them in public that you tried to DM them, but couldn’t with the appropriate sad face could easily rectify the issue, or at least enlighten you as to their reasons for not following. And maybe even teach you something. ;-)

    • Gina Stark says:

      Helloooo Susan and thanks so muuchly for adding your insights and experience. So true, they must track you if they can see you show up in their stream. I love your public mention…I’ve done something similar with positive results. I don’t use auto follow software, but I HAVE had someone notify me that they had been unlisted (I don’t even track such things for myself) and he seemed so concerned (in DM) that he had somehow offended me. I effusively thanked him for communicating to me so that I could remedy it and by NO means had he “fallen out of favor”. He sends me cheerful smiley butterfly links to say good morning – are you KIDDING?!? Who would ever ditch this friend?! lol :) I think what I’m saying is…I deplore the silent treatment and pouting. I am a believer in communication and it looks like you are too. Always approach the person and mention the oversight or even an apparent “slight”…it will likely turn out to be inadvertent, but like you say, there may be a reason you were unfollowed and you may learn something. Thanks for the thoughtful contribution. You are a GREAT contributor :) Huugggs and cheers, Gina

  • Kaila says:

    We sooooo need a secret code. It's like talking about money with your friends, everything get's all awkward and weird when you mention to someone that they should follow you. Some people are cool about it, but most just stare at your blankly or don't reply to your @reply/DM/whatev. Great post. :)

    • Gina Stark says:

      Greetings Kaila and thanks for your comments! Good parallel about money. Wouldn't that be cool? A universally understood hashtag, maybe not like #5 lol, but more like #SFR = Secret Follow Reminder. The thing is…people would use it to initiate a follow and therefore drive you NUTS! Rather than use it sparingly for the rare glitchy accidental unfollow or absent-minded forget-to-follow-altogether like Tony mentioned :) Happy tweeting! Gina

  • Kaila says:

    We sooooo need a secret code. It’s like talking about money with your friends, everything get’s all awkward and weird when you mention to someone that they should follow you. Some people are cool about it, but most just stare at your blankly or don’t reply to your @reply/DM/whatev. Great post. :)

    • Gina Stark says:

      Greetings Kaila and thanks for your comments! Good parallel about money. Wouldn’t that be cool? A universally understood hashtag, maybe not like #5 lol, but more like #SFR = Secret Follow Reminder. The thing is…people would use it to initiate a follow and therefore drive you NUTS! Rather than use it sparingly for the rare glitchy accidental unfollow or absent-minded forget-to-follow-altogether like Tony mentioned :) Happy tweeting! Gina

  • Josh says:

    I actually had to deal with this a few months ago. I met someone at a conference, was following this person on twitter and we interacted just about every day. Then this person kept wanting me to DM them something and I couldn't why? THEY WEREN'T FOLLOWING ME! Luckily I also had their email address (weird to DM via Twitter when we could just email right?), so I just shot'em the info they wanted and a friendly 'Hey I would've sent you a DM but I'm only able to DM those who are following me :-P'. Problem solved. That said, a secret code would have been MUCH easier.

    • Gina Stark says:

      Hi Josh and thanks for the illustration. Wow! Someone you had even met wasn't following! That makes it easier, I think, to do the gentle prodding. See my comments to Kaila about a real hashtag code…I think it would have inherent problems in that too many people would overuse it and abuse it! We'd see paragraphs of names and the hashtag #SFR flooding the stream ;) It seems silly to care about such a little thing, but I guess it shows that we do care about our followers…they aren't just numbers. Have an awesome day and thanks again! Cheers, Gina

  • Josh says:

    I actually had to deal with this a few months ago. I met someone at a conference, was following this person on twitter and we interacted just about every day. Then this person kept wanting me to DM them something and I couldn’t why? THEY WEREN’T FOLLOWING ME! Luckily I also had their email address (weird to DM via Twitter when we could just email right?), so I just shot’em the info they wanted and a friendly ‘Hey I would’ve sent you a DM but I’m only able to DM those who are following me :-P’. Problem solved. That said, a secret code would have been MUCH easier.

    • Gina Stark says:

      Hi Josh and thanks for the illustration. Wow! Someone you had even met wasn’t following! That makes it easier, I think, to do the gentle prodding. See my comments to Kaila about a real hashtag code…I think it would have inherent problems in that too many people would overuse it and abuse it! We’d see paragraphs of names and the hashtag #SFR flooding the stream ;) It seems silly to care about such a little thing, but I guess it shows that we do care about our followers…they aren’t just numbers. Have an awesome day and thanks again! Cheers, Gina

  • David Leonhardt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Very cool. My choice got 50% of the votes. Of course, only two of us voted so far…

    Yeah, the only reason I care if someone is following me or not is if I wish to DM them. In which case I send out a message like…

    "You're not following me." Nobody needs to know why, right? Usually the person is a little taken aback because they thought they were following me. No problem, I've accidentally unfollowed people before (or they were accidentally removed without my knowledge?)

    Or I might simply tweet "If you follow me I can DM you" if it's someone I know less well (gives them a reason why they might want to follow a loudmouth like me).

    • Gina Stark says:

      Thanks so much, David, for your take on it. I agree a DM is often a great way to reach someone as it shows up in two possible locations. There are 6 whole votes now! lol And it does seem that a kindly worded tweet is the best route. I love UrkidnRite's idea as well…including the captcha. Wow, see? we can solve all of the worlds problems on blog comment forums :) Happy tweeting! Cheers, Gina

  • David Leonhardt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Very cool. My choice got 50% of the votes. Of course, only two of us voted so far…

    Yeah, the only reason I care if someone is following me or not is if I wish to DM them. In which case I send out a message like…

    “You’re not following me.” Nobody needs to know why, right? Usually the person is a little taken aback because they thought they were following me. No problem, I’ve accidentally unfollowed people before (or they were accidentally removed without my knowledge?)

    Or I might simply tweet “If you follow me I can DM you” if it’s someone I know less well (gives them a reason why they might want to follow a loudmouth like me).

    • Gina Stark says:

      Thanks so much, David, for your take on it. I agree a DM is often a great way to reach someone as it shows up in two possible locations. There are 6 whole votes now! lol And it does seem that a kindly worded tweet is the best route. I love UrkidnRite’s idea as well…including the captcha. Wow, see? we can solve all of the worlds problems on blog comment forums :) Happy tweeting! Cheers, Gina

  • David Leonhardt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Not weird to DM rather than email. Sometimes I even DM someone to make sure they got my email. I know the DM gets seen whether they are on Twitter or in email, so it's quicker and more certain.

  • David Leonhardt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Not weird to DM rather than email. Sometimes I even DM someone to make sure they got my email. I know the DM gets seen whether they are on Twitter or in email, so it’s quicker and more certain.

  • URKidnRite says:

    Another great post, Gina, on another great site. It'd be nice if Twitter gave you a "nudge" option, especially if people dm you but don't follow you. If you try to DM, it sends them a dm that says "Oops! Gina tried to reply to your DM but you're not following them". That only solves the dm problem. I've seen a few people unfollow me that didn't mean to. If they're someone I care about, I send them a note publicly "Just checking in, noticed an unfollow and have seen twitter drop friends unexpectedly" or something like that.

    With new people @'ing or RT'ing me, I look at their other posts. If that's all they do, I ignore them, but if they seem engaged usually, I'll probably start telling them I'd like to dm.

    Again, thanks Gina for sharing your thoughts in such an engaging and entertaining way. I was wondering if Alyssa was asking anyone else about their secrets to success. Now I know. :)

    • Gina Stark says:

      Thanks so muuchly, Kid, for your visit and nice comments! I LOVE your Twitter "nudge" idea – brilliant! And it should only be initiated on a reply, or again it could be abused, me thinks :) and a BIG teehee about Alyssa….sigh…the people we could help if only we were allowed access ;-) Cheers and hugs to you, suuper friend! Gina

  • URKidnRite says:

    Another great post, Gina, on another great site. It’d be nice if Twitter gave you a “nudge” option, especially if people dm you but don’t follow you. If you try to DM, it sends them a dm that says “Oops! Gina tried to reply to your DM but you’re not following them”. That only solves the dm problem. I’ve seen a few people unfollow me that didn’t mean to. If they’re someone I care about, I send them a note publicly “Just checking in, noticed an unfollow and have seen twitter drop friends unexpectedly” or something like that.

    With new people @’ing or RT’ing me, I look at their other posts. If that’s all they do, I ignore them, but if they seem engaged usually, I’ll probably start telling them I’d like to dm.

    Again, thanks Gina for sharing your thoughts in such an engaging and entertaining way. I was wondering if Alyssa was asking anyone else about their secrets to success. Now I know. :)

    • Gina Stark says:

      Thanks so muuchly, Kid, for your visit and nice comments! I LOVE your Twitter “nudge” idea – brilliant! And it should only be initiated on a reply, or again it could be abused, me thinks :) and a BIG teehee about Alyssa….sigh…the people we could help if only we were allowed access ;-) Cheers and hugs to you, suuper friend! Gina

  • David Leonhardt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Actually URKidnRite, that's a great idea. If you try to DM someone not following you, it should say…

    “Oops! Gina tried to reply to your DM but you’re not following them. Would you like to nudge?” To prevent bots, there would have to be a captcha, of course.

  • David Leonhardt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Actually URKidnRite, that’s a great idea. If you try to DM someone not following you, it should say…

    “Oops! Gina tried to reply to your DM but you’re not following them. Would you like to nudge?” To prevent bots, there would have to be a captcha, of course.

  • Sanalika Hileleri says:

    Nice images..:)

  • Sanalika Hileleri says:

    Nice images..:)

  • Ryan Hackett says:

    Well done Gina! You're always a fun read. As far as the follower dilemma is concerned, I'm content just to leave it alone. I figure there's a reason someone's not following me. Maybe it's overuse of foursquare, or the ridiculous amount of hockey tweets that they just don't care for. Whatever it is, I don't want people to follow just to follow, I hope they are informed and entertained with the material I disseminate. Like I am with you, of course! Great job G!

  • Ryan Hackett says:

    Well done Gina! You’re always a fun read. As far as the follower dilemma is concerned, I’m content just to leave it alone. I figure there’s a reason someone’s not following me. Maybe it’s overuse of foursquare, or the ridiculous amount of hockey tweets that they just don’t care for. Whatever it is, I don’t want people to follow just to follow, I hope they are informed and entertained with the material I disseminate. Like I am with you, of course! Great job G!

  • joseph says:

    your image is perfect for twitter friend.