A #Twitter Rant (With a Customer Service Lesson)

January 10, 2013

Imagine the following exchange…

ME: Hi, I’d like to give you an award because I like you.

RECIPIENT: If you want to give me an award, you first need to fill out a 10 page application. If I like what I see, then I will gladly accept your award.

ME: Sorry, I think I dialed the wrong number.

And that, in a nutshell, is the essence of the TrueTwit validation service.

For those of you who are not familiar, TrueTwit validation proposes to eliminate spammers from your follower stream by having people click on a link to verify that they are real and not a spambot.

The great irony of TrueTwit is that in its attempt to prevent spam the first thing it does is spam you with an auto-DM (automated direct message).

Twitter Rant ? Direct TrueTwit Messages Screenshot

Now, I’m not really here to bang on TrueTwit; I think the folks at TrueTwit are providing a service that attempts to solve a problem.

And I’m not here to attack the people using the service; anyone using validation obviously cares about helping lessen the spam problem on Twitter.

To my mind, however, they are going about it all wrong and in trying to solve one problem are creating an entirely different problem.

Call it the Law of Unintended Annoyances.

Here is the thing: I have chosen to follow you, to read what you have to say, and that is a gesture of at least a modicum of respect. I won’t go so far as to say, as some do, that a simple Twitter follow means I have honored you, but I have chosen to let you and what you have to say into my life.

Sure, it doesn’t mean much, but it is still a nice gesture.

And what is your first response? That I have to earn the right to give you my attention. That’s a bit hard to swallow.

I guess my customer service outlook gives me a different perspective on this topic. If I am your follower, am I not on some very small level your customer? Did I not choose to give you the opportunity to share your thoughts, your ideas, and even your promotional messages with me?

If someone is gracious enough to follow me, the last thing I am going to do is to make them jump through hoops. Sure, they might just be following me just so that I follow them back. Or perhaps, they are a spammer, and if so, I will deal with them as that comes to light. But I’m not going to make everyone who follows me audition for the role.

My perspective on this topic is shaped by a very important customer service concept:

Don’t create systems that disadvantage the great majority of your customers just to prevent a tiny fraction from taking advantage.

And that is what TrueTwit ends up doing. When you treat everyone that follows you like a potential spammer, then you turn off many of the legitimate people who might have heard what you had to say.

I, for one, am one of those people, and I’d rather focus my time on those who have an open door on Twitter and not an entrance exam.

So, what do you think about being asked to validate yourself after you’ve followed someone on Twitter?

23 thoughts on “A #Twitter Rant (With a Customer Service Lesson)”

  1. What’s your view about blogs that require comment moderation, Adam? I feel the same way when that happens. And, it happens on all sizes of blogs.

    IMHO, if a comment is negative, it gets posted and then deleted after. I hate having the moderation thing; you lose momentum and you also don’t promote immediate commentary in your community.

    Spammers are a way of life. Just like rats in trash. Heh.

    1. Good question Jayme. Okay, so I think a blog is a slightly different animal because, to my mind, there is a two way exchange. If someone comments on your blog, they are adding value, but they are also asking to be a part of your community. A Twitter follow has no such exchange. If I follow you, I don’t get access to your other followers — I don’t get to speak to them. So, when someone comments on a blog, they are also asking for something, to be a part of something you have cultivated, and as such, I think asking them to prove themselves (once) is not out of line.

      So, I’m okay with comment moderation for first time visitors, but as you point out, I really think it’s a poor choice to have ongoing moderation. Defeats much of the give and take. IMHO.

  2. First- What is IMHO??

    Hi Adam! Long (LOOONG) time no-read! I’m sorry! I always learn and gain something from what you share and this post is no different.

    I agree. Ha! I agree that what we do here, and actually in most of our interactions throughout living a life, that it comes down to what we know as “customer service.” And the words themselves, “Customer Service” says it all… it isn’t about becoming more of a problem. Or making a new one.
    Thanks for sharing this with us all.

    1. Thank you so much. I appreciate the kind words, and it’s good to see you back!

      You make a good point about “becoming more of a problem.” That’s what the validation thing feels like to me.

  3. I love technology, but it makes us lazy thinkers. The first thing I do when I get a follow is to read someone’s bio and look at their top tweets. Which you can do by just hovering over someone’s avatar if you are on Twitter and not an app. Bam, that tells me right away what you are all about.

    1. Hi Susan, I use a similar method. I tend to do it in batches, and you’re right, the quick bio on the Twitter native interface can tell you a lot. Thanks for stopping by CTS!

  4. G”Day Adam,
    I feel much the same about blog comment systems that require you to go through hoops to leave a comment. Of these systems, I’ve found that Livefyre can be particularly annoying.

    In the same way as you suggest with Twitter, make it as easy as possible for readers to leave blog comments: in their terms, of course.


    1. It’s funny you mention that Leon, because I really like Livefyre as a user — but I wonder how many people who aren’t bloggers or regular commenters turn away because of commenting systems. Native comments make it easier for first timers but more difficult for regulars.

      Good to see you!

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  6. I think you nailed it. I will almost never “Validate” who I am. Since I rarely follow new people, unless I see someone has followed me because they started a conversation, I find it rude to make me validate after we’ve already been talking.

    They should have some way to check to see if the person who uses the validation service followed the new person, first, and then NOT send the auto DM

    1. Hey Brian, I didn’t even think to rant about that! You’re right, in some cases the person has actually followed me first, and then still asked for validation when I followed back. So that is even worse.

  7. I am so with you on this. The first time I received a TrueTwit validation DM I was astounded. When I get those, I don’t even bother filling it out. No one is that important.

  8. Truetwit is at the top of the list of Auto DMs you do not want to receive – hate them.

    If I get these I tweet the person saying hi, I am real, if you didn’t know already and I do not use truetwit.

    Then I leave the rest up to them.

    Thanks for the post.

  9. In one of my many Twitter rants Adam, I’ve dissed on these terrible services. It’s almost always DM spam which makes this like a double whammy of douchery.. all b/c they’re so afraid of spam.

    “I have to earn the right to give you my attention” Right there you make the smart point about this, all the hoops people throw out when our following is a complement, not a chore. Unless as you say, it’s a followback scam. Which hits me w/ yet another realization – the ‘spam’ is an excuse.

    I was discussing not too long ago that what w/ everyone being so terrified of DM spam (and that being a big reason/excuse for following 214 out of 10,793 followers whom you begged, blogged, tweeted for their attention – ahem), how about some controls? Why not have Twitter give us the option to control the DM? Maybe let us block them all, or just links? Or list ‘safe’ DM friends? No need to unfollow the unwashed masses or annoy them with these services. IDK just typing out loud.. and happy it’s not just me who hates this b.s. 🙂 FWIW.

    1. That is a great idea Davina! It would be a nice feature to be able to safelist those who can DM you … or something similar. My guess is it would cost money to do but wouldn’t increase revenue for Twitter, so …

      I think one of the things that surprised me most when I started on Twitter was how many people (particularly with large follower counts) ignore DMs because the DM spam has gotten so out of control. It’s a shame, because DMs are a nice feature.

  10. Pingback: The Tragedy of TrueTwit.

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