How to say thank you for good things that happen online

When someone does something nice for you — and especially when they do without you asking first — it’s appropriate to say thank you. And offline, that’s pretty easy. You can say thank you in person or over the phone, write a thank you note, send a nice gift (a bottle of wine always works for me), or even buy someone lunch (or a drink).

However, online relationships are a bit trickier. Sometimes we don’t really know the people we interact with online, beyond, say, a Twitter account. But with just a Twitter account someone online can do some nice things for you – tweet a blog post you’ve written, include you in a #followfriday recommendation or just say nice things about you. How do you respond? How do you thank people in an appropriate, meaningful way?

Here are three ideas:

  • Return the favor. Retweet, include them in your #followfriday recommendations or publicize a blog post through one or more of your online identities.
  • Thank them offline. Send a handwritten note, make a short phone call or, if you’re feeling really generous, send a gift card or a small card. It may take a little extra time to figure out how to do this. Maybe you look up where the person works and send something to his or her office, maybe you figure out who their literary agent or publisher (for authors) is and send something through that route. Be brief, be nice, be polite – but don’t stalk. The point here is to thank people, not make them nervous.
  • Talk them up offline. If someone is doing good work, recognize it in your real-world conversations. When I talk to people who want to understand better how social media works in marketing and public relations I frequently recommend they check out David Meerman Scott’s blog or get his books. I think he does great, smart, work, so I talk him up. He may never know this, but in exchange for the insight his work has provided me, I think it’s good karma to pass along his name and web site to others.

How do you thank people? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanking isn’t duty or obligation, it’s a privilege. True fellowship is *inclusive* and when someone’s done something for me, online or on land, thev’ve included me, and thanking them is natural, and fun.

    In addition to the examples you explained, I like to thank others by giving them my friends.

  2. says

    Hi Mark! Thanking someone for a good deed done online is just good manners. I like the system of returning favors, but there are times when a thoughtful thank-you note is more appropriate.

    A long time ago I was part of this discussion board/online community in which members were awarded “Karma points” from others when they contributed content or added value to the community. The ones with higher Karma scores had access to more information. (This was in the early 2000’s, before social media, and when crazy 1980’s mash-up fans had to rely on things like Yahoo! Groups to find hot new jamz, lol.) While there’s not an official Karma pointing system in place in social media today, I’m a firm believer in what goes around, comes around.

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