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Dear Twitter Guy: This Is Why You Lost My Business

By October 4, 2013November 5th, 2014Social Marketing
Dear Twitter Guy: This Is Why You Lost My Business

We hand out a lot of advice on this site. Much of it comes in the form of to-dos but occasionally we’re compelled to shout about something that needs to stop.

This is one of those times.

See, I spend a lot of time on Twitter. Of all the social networks, I find it the most fun and engaging. Where Facebook is an endless stream of whichever memes and food photos Facebook has chosen to show me, and Pinterest is a gob of imagery, like someone just knocked one of those giant shoeboxes of old photos off a closet shelf and mashed them around on the floor for a while…

For me, Twitter is short, chronological snippets of information that I can organize and process the way I want.

And so, I tend to do a lot of business there.

give a lot of business there.

Don’t tell anyone, but if you’ve got something to sell me, you probably want to follow me on Twitter and tell me about it.

A little flattery never hurt either, but I’m just saying…

The Story

I’ve bought just about every author’s book who I’ve ever connected with on Twitter. So when Random Guy Who Writes Fiction Of Some Unspecified Nature followed me, I followed back.

Then he tweeted me with a link to his books and asked me to check them out.

So I did.

First, I checked out his Amazon store.

I read a few reviews and excerpts.

Then, I tweeted him.

“Hey, your stuff looks pretty interesting! Would love to read more. Which title should I start with?”


I’m busy. So I put it out of my mind.

A couple of days later I mentioned this to Ralph, and I said, “You know, this guy followed me on Twitter and told me to check out his books, and I wanted to buy one but he never answered my question about it.”

And Ralph said… Oh, that guy, with those books? (Referencing the very same person who had sent out the very same tweet to both of us.)

Me: Yes!

Ralph: Yeah, he followed me too. Didn’t answer me, either.

So guess what Random Twitter Guy never got?

That’s right, my business.

The Moral

Random Twitter Guy could have made an instant sale.

Even if his books weren’t that great, if Random Twitter Guy had been nice to me, I probably would have read every one.

So what’s that worth to him? Five or ten bucks a pop, a couple of books in the series? He’s probably not losing the bank over me, but how many more of me are out there who Random Twitter Guy failed to engage and therefore failed to sell?

And the other thing it was worth to him? Me promoting him and his books to my followers, because if you’re nice to me, I’m inclined to be nice to you.

Except now, even if Random Twitter Guy’s books are the most amazing thing on the planet, I still won’t buy them.

I’m unforgiving like that.

I’ve been told I’m nobody’s demographic (by people who can’t seem to put me into a neat category) but I still bet I’m not the only one on the planet who feels this way. You can sell me stuff, but you’d better pretend to like me while you do.

And if you want to sell me stuff on social media, then you’d better be prepared to be social about it.

If you do Twitter marketing, want to do Twitter marketing or are even remotely considering doing Twitter marketing then please take this lesson to heart.

Twitter is not a place for you to send out free advertisements. It is not a megaphone.

The tweet-ignore-tweet again paradigm has to stop. If you can’t be there, then don’t market there.

To be successful with social media – and that goes for any social network – it’s vitally important to remember that there are live human beings at the other end of your broadcasts.

Pay attention.

Monitor your feeds.

Watch for mentions, comments, questions and shares.


I won’t even tell you to “engage” because that’s just a fancy marketing word for “act like a human being and when someone asks you a question, answer, damnit.”

Maybe some suckers out there will buy indiscriminately from Random Twitter Guy but I bet he’s doing an awful lot of wasting his time.

And A Final P.S.

We’re often lulled into a false sense of comfort thinking that we’re not one of those big brands with outsourced marketing who make very public and very stupid mistakes. So we don’t have to worry about our reputations and the repercussions of our little oversights and mistakes.

We’re no Kenneth Cole angering an entire country or American Apparel trampling on already-trodden hurricane victims.

But that doesn’t mean we’re free and clear because it’s tough to say how to do social media right but it’s readily apparent when it’s wrong.

It doesn’t take a public social media meltdown or a big mistake to lose business.

Just ask Random Twitter Guy… or don’t, because he probably won’t answer anyway.


Update: 10:15AM

No sooner had this article been shared on Twitter when a like-minded tweeter agreed with me and came up with this gem.

TweetDear Twitter Guy: THAT’S how you fix a blunder!

Are you monitoring your social networks for feedback, questions and interactions? If not, why not?

Join the discussion 27 Comments

  • Lisa Buben says:

    Carol, amazing how some companies never respond. I had this happen in reverse with retail site. Someone tweeted a question to me and another competitor, I answered first and the competitor hadn’t been on Twitter for days, Really? That’s why we have the app on phone and notification on for when folks tweet us 🙂 Great reminder for all Carol that if they are going to be on a network they better be able to respond quickly! Which reminds me the San Diego Zoo never answered my tweet if they are still open during the shutdown 🙁 I hope they are!
    Thanks for bringing this important point out Carol.

    • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

      Waiting a few days for someone to answer you is bad enough, but if they do, at least it’s something. It’s when they NEVER answer – and sometimes you even try to communicate more than once! – that’s the worst. I immediately ignore those people. Good luck with the zoo, if they’re closed you may never hear from them!

  • Aaron Wood says:

    I definitely do regular searches online to see if people have mentioned me and my art. It goes a long way towards establishing connections and good customer service! It might even lead to a few sales! 😀

    • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

      Since I’m pretty sure I found you on Twitter in the first place, there’s a good chance you got it right 🙂

  • Right now, I don’t monitor questions. I do reply back to the mentions I get 🙂 And since I don’t manage a blog, nothing much to worry about.

    Monitoring niche related questions? Hmm, that’s something I should do with my Tweet deck account. I have done it in the past, and it has worked pretty well (Right now, I am focusing more on Google Plus, answering questions within G+ communities and all).

    I can relate, Carol. I have had a few experiences like this (not just in Twitter), where people don’t respond.

    I do give it some time though, what if something important happened in their life? So, cut them some slack, right? But, no update after 1-2 weeks? That’s too much.

    When you are maintain a business, maintain it properly :D.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing your experience, Carol! I hope the Random Twitter guy or at least a Random guy on Twitter sees this and understands the importance of replying back.

    • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

      I agree, there may be a delay – we are “always on” so we expect instant gratification but that doesn’t mean everyone else out there can respond to us in real time. So I’m willing to be patient. But that’s different than waiting forever. And sometimes even when you try two or three times you still get nothing. That’s not very social!

  • Melanie Kissell says:

    And how about a band you went to see in concert, spent hundreds of hard-earned dollars on tickets, had a horrible experience because the sound was blaring and not mixed or balanced properly, the bass amplifier was blowing out your ear drums, couldn’t hear one word of the vocals, exited early to go home to take a heavy dose of Tylenol, and …

    You post comments on their social media pages only to hear …
    Crickets. 🙁

    Nada. Zip. Zilch. Sputz. Not a word.

    Makes you want to spend another couple of hundred dollars on concert tickets, doesn’t it? NOT.

    It baffles my brain why people set up social media accounts yet have no intention of interacting with their fans and followers. I. Don’t. Get. It. Do they really believe that stance is going to increase sales??!! Pfffffffft!

    • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

      Hm, I wonder who THAT happened to??? It does really leave you with a bad feeling, doesn’t it? Sadly, it would have been better for that band (and other people who don’t interact) to just stay OFF social altogether. But to purport to be on “social” media and then to fail to be social is very disappointing to fans and followers.

  • Andi-Roo says:

    I’m terrible with Twitter & FB. I get really active a few days, and then freak out and hide from it for a week. I think individuals with social anxiety should probably stay off social media altogether. I try to go back & respond to people when I’m up to it, but I know I miss some. If I ever get to a point where I’m selling anything, I know I’ll have to have someone else handle it because I just straight-up suck.

    • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

      You’re really too funny. Why do you freak out?? The good thing about being online is that nobody has yet invented technology where someone can jump through your computer to choke you for what you say 🙂 If you’re not selling, it’s more of a personal decision how active you want to be. But if you’re doing it for business then dangit, get with the program!

      • Andi-Roo says:

        Totally agree with you in regard to businesses getting with the program! If you’re gonna be serious, play serious, and don’t do a half-assed job of it! And I’m completely incapable of that, because for every three good days, I have three more that find me hiding under my desk. To answer your question, I freak out because I have anxiety. Something about deadlines and obligation and responsibility makes me shudder and run away.

        • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

          Hm. Well, technically you don’t have a deadline on Twitter, although if you don’t answer people in sixty seconds you get someone like me who blogs about it 🙂

  • I don’t think a freebie solves problems all the time, especially in this case. However, it’s an interesting story.

    People need to stop treating social media as another self-promoting channel.

    • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

      I don’t think a freebie is necessarily “the thing” that will fix this or any other problem but the bigger point is that there is some effort made rather than ignoring problems (or in this case, simply not being present). A “whoops, missed your tweet” would have sufficed, at least in this case, but more important that the exact solution is the acknowledgment.

      I totally agree on NOT being self-promotional!

  • Gazalla Gaya says:

    What a great post, Carol Lynn. I agree with you, although I’ve been guilty of not checking my DM’s on Twitter. Do you think they count as well? The reason I stopped a while ago was because all I ever got in my DM’s were people thanking me for following them with a link to whatever they are selling. However, If you @ me, I will definitely respond. Thanks for bringing this issue to light. I feel like more brands need to see this post.

    • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

      Thanks Gazalla, it still surprises me that people can attempt social media and completely leave the social part out! As for DMs, that’s a great point – I haven’t checked mine in months either because they’re exactly what you said – automated thank-yous or some pitch to buy something or do something. As far as I’m concerned, if you want to talk to me, you can @ mention and I will respond. Unless we agree to talk privately, there’s no reason to DM. So I’m with you on that!

  • Jen Miller says:

    GREAT lesson! Thank you for posting.

  • Bin Teo says:

    Thanks for sharing Carol! I personally find it annoying when the DMs are automated, and sent for the sake of sending. Love the cat puking response btw!

    • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

      I agree, Bin, I never check my DMs anymore for just that reason. If someone wants to get my attention, there are a hundred other ways to do it!

  • Sylviane Nuccio says:

    Hi Carol,

    I’m so glad I finally caught up with this post. I totally agree with you on that. It goes back to the famous… know, LIKE and trust, right? Liking the person you are going to buy from is a biggy. people just won’t buy from you if they don’t like you. In this case it didn’t take that much to make that guy not likable. I would I feel the same way.

    You can’t tell someone to check out your books and then forget all about it. What a dumber!

    • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

      Exactly, Sylviane. If I walked into a book store and picked up an interesting book off the shelf, I would probably never know or talk to the author and I wouldn’t care. But if that same author sent me a message on Twitter and then ignored me… it’s completely different. Then it’s annoying and unsocial!

  • Katherine Kotaw says:

    I was nodding in agreement and cheering in my head the entire time I was reading your article. It never ceases to amaze me how people delude themselves into believing that one-sided relationships are going to work. Random Twitter Guy was so lucky you took the time to check out his link and ask him a question. He would have been beyond lucky that if he had only answered your question, he would have made him a sale. That is really generous of you and not many people are that generous. But he shouldn’t have answered you because he thought he might make a sale; he should have answered you because it’s common courtesy and the decent thing to do. Plus, as you said, what’s the point of being on social media if you’re not going to be social? Yes, we all want people to click on our links, buy from us or hire us, but true connection is how you get all that. And for me, true connection trumps all else. I’d much rather have a conversation with someone who has no use for my content marketing services but who makes me laugh and brightens my day than I would with an inconsiderate person who might need my marketing advice.

    • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

      Thanks, I’m glad you liked it! You also made the “elephant in the room” point which is that answering someone is common courtesy. You don’t need a marketing class to teach you that! Too many people don’t get the idea that social media doesn’t mean you get to throw your promotional stuff out there and wait for sales.

      I know exactly what you mean about preferring good company to rude sales. Believe me, there have been times when I didn’t bother to pursue a lead because I knew that person was someone I wouldn’t want to work with.

      Not sure when the “social” got detached from the “media” but hopefully there’s someone out there reading this right now thinking “whoops, better pay attention…”

      • Katherine Kotaw says:

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply, Carol! I’ve done the exact same thing about turning down clients I wouldn’t want to work with. Sometimes the decision has been tough in the moment, especially if I really needed the money, but any time I haven’t listened to my “do not work with this person” instinct, I’ve ended up regretting it. Which is why I’ve come to always trust to my instincts. Here here to preferring good company to rude sales! And cheers to common courtesy! So wonderful to connect with you 🙂

  • Adrienne says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever purchased anything from Twitter Carol but one thing I have done is make more connections. It’s just like you’re saying here, respond to me darn it and watch out because trust me, this could benefit you down the road. Ignore me and I’m kind of like you I’m afraid. Not only have you lost a connection but I’ll go out of my way to avoid you. If I were inclined to buy I’d never buy from you!

    What’s wrong with these people and why are they on Twitter! I still can’t believe that people don’t understand what social means. Dah!!! Oh well, Random Twitter Guy’s definitely loss here.

    Love the response too! Bravo Jeremy! 😉


    • Carol Lynn Rivera says:

      This was one guy, but as you know there are plenty of them! Not too long ago, I found someone who was selling bamboo towels. I was on a bamboo kick at the time and I thought it was awesome and I wanted to buy them but I had a question. So I tweeted them, a few times, because I really did want those towels and they never got back to me, not once. So I never bought them. It really makes you wonder why people bother!