3 Fatal Errors to make when you want to get someone’s attention

I’d say that I enjoy a certain amount of attention from fans and I do get a fair number of private messages from people whom I totally do not know.
I’m sure that even if you don’t private message me, you might private message someone else, and you’d want a reply from that person.
I have to admit that I myself have sent out some fan-ish messages to people I admire. And guess what, my success rate is GREAT! =x
So, as someone who receives messages and also sends messages, let me impart some advice on how to increase your success rate of getting a reply.

If there is one message that you should take home from this… it is that :
Golden rule #1 Being on someone’s friend list, buddy list or fan page does not mean that the person automatically knows you. So approach him or her as though you were approaching a stranger. Knowing about that person’s life and thoughts does not mean the person knows you too.

So, keeping that rule in mind, here are the 3 worst things that you can do to start your first message.

1. HI! Can I ask you a question please?
I mean… ok… this is more or less a rhetorical question. It is unlikely that I, or anyone would refuse an audience to someone who wants to ask a question. Especially when I have no idea what you will be asked.
This is annoying though, because that in itself, is ALREADY a question, and I would have to spend one message replying “yeah sure, go ahead” when I could have spent it actually REPLYING the question.

While we are talking about questions….

2. Asking me something which I’ve repeatedly replied to in public, or which can easily be googled.
I’m helpful… but if this kind of question catches me in a bad mood, you’re likely to get a snappy reply. Luckily for many people, I normally reserve my best of moods to read private messages and fan mail.
Golden rule #2 : asking someone something, anything, should be a last resort. Try asking google first… or doing some background research on your own before asking someone. Or thinking. Thinking is actually a very useful skill to have.

3. This last WORST thing you can do leads me back to Golden rule #1. And that is being rude.
Just remember that the person you are messaging probably, and by probably I mean 99%, doesn’t know who you are, and you’re just as unlikely to really know the person too, as much as you might think you do. So please do not assume to know that person, and please don’t expect a reply (a nice one at least) if you overstep your boundaries.
I get random messages asking me to perform various sexual favours, or on the milder side, messages containing false assumptions which have been made about me.
Just because it’s online, and you’re safe from a slap on the face, doesn’t mean its ok!

That said, HOW do you get a reply, and even better, put a smile on that person’s face?
Here are some quick tips

1. Give them something nice.
For example, if someone makes me a nice banner pic which I can use on my profile, or twitch (nono… I’m not hinting for a pile of banner pics… I’m quite happy with mine) I’d be very pleased, and would most likely repost it for everyone to see and appreciate.

2. Don’t ask for anything. Not in the first message, anyway.
Some of the posts that I’ve immediately closed and moved on from involve people asking me to do something elaborate or time consuming. I normally will repost interesting info if people ask me to, and if I find it interesting, cos it’s easy and quick to do. But if someone asks me to say… trade DotA2 items, I’m going to walk away from that because firstly, I don’t really bother too much about my items and secondly, it would take too much effort.
Similarly, if someone asks me for a fansign, it is unlikely that I’m going to spend at least 45minutes designing the fan sign, putting on make up, taking pictures etc.  (so, if you want a fan sign you’ve gotta work for it, probably when I run one of my promos… if ever.)

3. Say something nice, but don’t pile on the flattery.
Telling someone how much you admire them for a good quality they possess is normally irresistable. And  by GOOD QUALITY, I don’t mean oh you look so cute in your picture. I mean something deeper and more meaningful than exterior appearances.
I once told a photographer how I admired her passion for photography and how it moved me to learn about the odds she had to overcome to get to where she was. If I, instead had told her, “Oh this pic you took is so awesome!” I’m pretty sure it would just have been swept away and ignored.
It’s normally evident when someone is sincere, as opposed to just being blinded by fandom.

SO. I hope this helps.
AND, if you try this on me, I will kill you.