That’s right, turn off the auto-responder! You may think you look like you’re on top of things by using this “feature”. Sadly, the opposite is more true than not. Abusing an auto-responder can make you look like an online novice instead of a professional.
Auto-responders are scheduled pieces of response. In email, it’s a scheduled, programmed note back to your email inbox when you sign up for a whitepaper download or some other information box. When you use an auto-responder in social media, you are scheduling a specific response (i.e., “I’m on vacation…”) to be triggered when one of your friends, followers or connections makes a post. The issue? Because it’s programmed, scheduled, you don’t know what kind of message the auto-responder is responding to.
Allow me illustrate an example. Last week I saw an auto-responder to a post on Facebook, one of the last social media channels I thought would ever have seen such a thing. A friend had asked for prayers for a family member who was very ill. A mutual friend chimed in on the Facebook post with this message:
Here’s three reasons why you should turn off the auto-responder:
- It looks tacky. This type of response doesn’t show the world you’re staying connected or on top of things. To the contrary — it makes you look lazy.
- You look clueless. It was clear the respondent hadn’t read the post at all.
- It translates to apathetic concern. Basically, you didn’t care enough to personalize the message. Social media is, first and foremost, social. That means people should be making real connections to real people, with real feelings, right?
Here’s the deal: the photos you see on social media aren’t just avatars or images. Those are photos of real people, with real feelings. How would you feel if you made a similar request of your friends, and saw an auto-responder like the one above? You might forgive it, thinking to yourself, “At least he or she thought of me at all, they’re just a little busy right now.”. Seriously, how long will that feeling last?
Three key takeaways:
- Make the connection personally. An auto-responder is just a pre-recorded message. Step up to the next level and make a post of real, genuine concern. If you feel comfortable, take it offline to either a private chat or phone call, but be real.
- Clue back in. You decided to connect to these people, or accept their connection request. Why? What did it mean to you then, and what does it mean now? Read, really read their posts, and answer personally if you are so motivated — not programmed.
- Get re-connected to the world. Dial it back in. You are connected to these people for a reason, right? What was the reason? Re-examine the strengths, abilities and individuality of each connection first, then re-examine yourself and your reasons for staying connected.
You should be building lasting relationships on social media. What kind of footprint do you want to leave? How do you want to be known and/or remembered? Strive to be remembered and known for caring past a number or notch on your belt, and see what happens.
Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.