How to Thank Social Media Followers the Right Way (Just in Time For Thanksgiving)

owly turkey

Social media is at its best when you’re actually being social, connecting with others of different stripes in different places across the globe. Part of that connection should involve saying thank you to the people that drive your brand awareness on social networks. We often forget, but expressing how thankful you are is pretty powerful for the individual on the receiving end of that sentiment.

Today millions of Americans will be spending time with their families and chowing down on Turkey in celebration of Thanksgiving. We thought we’d take this opportunity to discuss the subject of how to thank social media followers the right way.

Basic “Thank You” Posts Can Go A Long Way

There are simple principles that many people and brands live by in terms of thanking followers. If you’re a smaller brand or individual and someone tweets your content, it’s good practice to acknowledge the Tweet and show you appreciate it with by favouriting the message. You may also want to thank the person in a Tweet reply. A direct reply “thank you” starting with the other person’s Twitter handle won’t clog other people’s feeds and can mean a lot to new followers. With so many people actively tweeting and engaging on social media every day, a direct reply distinguishes that individual, separating them from the pack and showing that their own efforts stood out and had value.

If you are going to send out a lot of thank yous, simply consider spacing out or scheduling these messages so that someone looking at your profile doesn’t ONLY see thank you’s and is exposed to your other content as well. And while a “Thanks!” message is good, a personalized message is far, far better. Call them by their name (not just their Twitter handle), acknowledge their great tweets, or offer an additional resource. Personalizing your thanks turns a business to consumer interaction into the person to person interaction we should all be striving for.

The same principles apply to Facebook and Google+, though instead of “favourite” you can Like or +1 their post. In place of a reply, comment on their post thanking them in the personalized way discussed above. Often, your one comment can help instigate a larger thread of interaction with your brand below that very post, helping to bring further attention to the original piece of content.

Just Follow Them Back Already

HootSuite follows around 1.4 million people on Twitter, but that's still only around one quarter of our follower-base.
HootSuite follows around 1.4 million people on Twitter, but that’s still only around one quarter of our follower-base.

Is the follow-back rule still a thing? I don’t think so, but this doesn’t mean you should just ignore all of the new followers you get day after day. A follow is a silent but powerful way of saying thanks, especially if you have a big brand behind you. As a rule of thumb, if someone reaches out to you by sharing your content or commenting on something you’ve shared, you’d do well to follow them back. It’s the first step towards increasing the odds of them becoming a brand advocate. This type of engagement can help you build a rapport with these active users, to turn a basic connection into something more meaningful and maybe even turn a follower into an evangelist for your brand.

If you’re curious about a follower, you may want to quickly check their profile. HootSuite recently introduce the “New Followers” stream, so you can get to know your most recent followers and decide whether or not you want to follow them back. Do they tweet about your industry or product? Do they tweet at all? Are their accounts void of spam? If the answers are yes, you have no reason not to follow that person. Share a little good will and click that follow button.

Still convinced that following lots of people somehow reflects poorly on your online presence? Look at us! HootSuite follows more people than any other Twitter account in existence (1.4 million) and we still have nearly four times that many followers (5.5 million)!

Sharing THEIR content

While many social media users have come to expect the occasional message or follow-back, very few expect to be called out by name. A simple way for an individual or brand to thank a follower is to retweet their social messages or share a piece of relevant content from that user. This may be as simple as re-posting their Instagram photo or YouTube video. An amateur blogger getting a shout-out from a major brand can be a significant moment for that individual.

In the case of followers who are bloggers, thought-leaders in your industry or are generally dedicated to your product, inviting them to contribute a blog post, photo or other piece of content is another great way to thank them for their dedication and support. Here at HootSuite we often ask our followers questions and then include their responses in follow-up blogs, shouting them out in the process. We even empowered one such follower to write a full blog post for us with his own tips and tricks for using our product.

Above and Beyond

Now that we’ve discussed the regular means of thanking your followers, there are other ways for you or your brand to go above and beyond. It might seem basic, but engaging in a conversation that doesn’t just relate to your company or product is a great way to actually show that you care. about your community It takes time and effort, but it proves that you are human and that you want to connect to others on a human level. Read their posts and engage with them about a shared interest (videos of cats anyone?). Genuine interactions go a long way to saying thank you and we care.

Another way we try to go above and beyond is with a Hootkit. Hootkits are personalized packages with stickers, t-shirts and other HootSuite swag that we send to members of our social media community. These packages are accompanied by personalized thank you notes and are an absolute hit among our followers. Often, the people we thank share photos of the kits or discuss them on social media, contributing to a positive image of our brand.

Getting creative and doing something unique will help you not only set yourself apart, but set your followers apart and show them that they matter. Do it in a way that is true to your brand and see what happens!

Share your stories about thanking social media followers with us in the comments below!