No, You Can’t Automate Social Media!

Over the past two years or so, social media’s increased popularity has really done something for those assuming that it’s all a “get rich quick” opportunity. The widespread adoption of social media has caused for hordes of “experts” to suddenly come into town assuming that they can totally own this niche. These new “Internet Marketers” take Twitter by storm, using automated Twitter tools in abundance that give them the true appearance of expertise. They are no-name people who all of the sudden have 22,000 followers while following 23,000, but that doesn’t matter because a newbie trying to market his business sees this 5 digit number and gets excited about the opportunities to reach so many people so quickly.

It’s a Utopian mindset but one that clueless business owners step into after following an “expert” and hiring him for services. Many unsuspecting business owners blindly spot the riches of social media based on the appearance of numbers (even though those are usually deceiving). They think, “This guy must be great; he has 30,000 Twitter followers! What’s better than that?”

It’s unfortunately a situation I’ve been picking up more and more on as I see users building their entire social media marketing empire on the basis of automation.

A few months ago, a big named blogger called out another “expert” for writing an eBook that included a blog post from this blogger without attribution and completely verbatim. The thought process likely was that he wouldn’t get caught. Someone, though, recognized the content and reported it to the original blogger who rallied his audience and successfully had this original blogger amend his document. Where was the eBook author during all of this? I wanted to know since I never heard of the guy. Who was he, I wondered, and was he credible? So I hopped on Twitter for a sneak into his daily activities. Despite the fact that he had over 50,000 Twitter followers, his entire feed was a broadcast. There was no engagement and his ratio of followers to following was close to one-to-one. It’s kind of hard to have a relationship with 50,000 people, is it not? A 1:1 ratio at that level brings up a few red flags, but most notably, automation, especially with regards to automatic reciprocation of every single incoming follower.

But that was a few months ago, and I’m naive enough to think that others won’t be so silly in their online engagement activities. Meanwhile, I’ve been working on building out a social media strategic plan for a really interesting company. Their social media efforts were spearheaded by a guy who looks like a nice dude, but after studying his personal Twitter feed, it was almost the same kind of thing: the process was almost wholly automated. Effort was placed into collecting articles and scheduling them over time to give off the appearance of a “fresh” and “relevant” Twitter feed, but engagement was kept at a true minimum. Essentially, the actual user’s Twitter account became a broadcast medium but not a conversational one.

Sadly, that same strategy was passed onto the client’s Twitter feed as well; with the exception of a single @ in a full month (that was a response to a question), the entire Twitter account was fully automated. He must have spent an hour or two collecting posts to schedule throughout the month, adding no real value to the client’s stream, thereby capturing no leads and empowering customers. Plus, one of his automated tweets even advocated auto-following users, which some very keen customers noted and caused him to remove that tweet and apologize for endorsing the tactic!

So when I finally got access to the client’s Twitter account to begin promoting their services, I didn’t know what I’d find but expected the process to be a tad easier. However, following their home Twitter feed was really difficult. I was reading tweets from a sea of twitterfeeds, which if you’re unaware, are totally automated posts that come from processing RSS feeds. It seemed that none of the accounts this Twitter account was following were actually manned by people — and there were hundreds! Twitterfeeds are hardly the kind of thing a real human would ever want to read, especially one that wants to embark in social media marketing. It’s a great tool, but it’s not one you’d exclusively want to dedicate your Twitter efforts to. And it doesn’t help for marketing — at least not the social kind. If I wanted to shout it out, I’d buy a billboard over the Strip in Las Vegas. Preferably one that was visible from the top floors of the Mirage, Treasure Island, the Palazzo, and heck, while I’m at it, the Bellagio. Why not?

We should hang a banner ad in the middle of the sky

A similar tactic was mirrored on the client’s Facebook account; there was no user interaction, just a bunch of messages that were cross-posted from Twitter to Facebook that were scheduled in advance. There were fans on the Facebook page, but what is keeping them there? A great product — nothing more, nothing less.

Yet there’s so much more that can be done online, and it doesn’t involve only using tools. Tools make your life easier, they’re really a small fraction of the process of social media marketing. Having a solid social media strategy and realizing that social media marketing involves dealing with people is critically important. Here are some rules of thumb to consider when considering a social media marketing strategy:

Engagement is Everything

I can’t stress it enough: social media marketing is a social activity! People are flocking to sites like Twitter and Facebook and other communities because they are online communities where they can learn from and hang out with their peers. The success of a social media marketing campaign strongly revolves around engagement. Broadcasting works better as a billboard.

What kind of engagement can you do? That’s not as difficult as it seems: find people talking about you and respond to them. Find people talking about your competitors and tell them about your own opportunities (use your best judgment though). Find people talking about your industry and chime in! Add value by finding blog posts or articles of interest to your followers and make sure to credit the author of the article, especially if he’s on Twitter! (e.g. “Just found this great post on green and orange widgets by @tamar”).

Numbers Do Not Dictate Influence

There are some people who will automatically follow everyone who follows them on Twitter. As a result, they have incredibly huge following numbers even though their followers may have also used automatic methods to get new followers. It’s actually more common than you think. I’ve been autofollowed by many people simply because I’ve tweeted about Internet Marketing and Social Media Marketing, and I’ve seen my peers accumulate followers for doing the same thing. The funny thing is that some of my peers will auto-follow these folks back, making the entire process automatic.

When I first signed onto Twitter in 2006, I used to manually review every single incoming email notifying me of new Twitter followers just to see if there was a synergy between our accounts. Am I interested in what the other person has to add? If so, I followed them. With the number of followers that come and go, and due to Twitter’s widespread adoption, it’s now a bit difficult to manually review the dozens of followers I get on a daily basis. I now employ lists as a way to follow people in my own defined categories (though it still has a shortcoming; the process is still manual!). This method may or may not work for you; my point of illustration is simply to explain that the process of following (both on Twitter and on lists) for me is a completely manual one, and it may be advisable for your own account integrity to avoid following everyone just because they’ve elected to follow you. Are you genuinely interested in everything the 15,000 people you’re following have to say? Will you even pay attention to your home feed? These are questions you need to seriously consider before you automate.

Tools like Klout can really help you find the influencers among those who are merely twitterfeeding it up the wazoo. If their number is low (I’d say a Klout of 35 or less counts for low/no influence among social media experts, though this can be debatable), even if they have 302,402 followers, they’re not influential. If you’re hiring a social media marketing practitioner for your business, look at their Klout. If it’s low, they aren’t exerting enough influence on their own accounts to be influential enough on your account. Even though some of us are busy helping clients, we should still find time to nurture our own account and grow it organically.

Automation is Okay… in Limited Quantities

Sometimes it’s okay to share content you love. I have close friends and colleagues who share sponsored posts from major blogs among the other posts they share from these large online publications. They do it because they generally love ALL the articles — and so what if there’s an infrequent article that thanks the blogs’ supporters?

Running through automated tools is fine, but it’s not something you should be doing regularly. There’s only so much genuity that comes out of automating your Twitter account. And it also proves that there are thousands (millions?) of blind Twitter users who think it’s a numbers game.

Remember, engagement is key. Respond to the people who are around you. If you want to stand on a podium and start shouting through a megaphone, by all means, do it. Just don’t do it on Twitter if you want a return on your investment. Twitter is a community and you’re a member of the congregation. You need to respect your peers and treat them as they deserve to be treated.

Thanks to social media’s widespread adoption and thanks to a really open API for platforms such as Twitter, it’s inevitable that people will take advantage of the latest and greatest of Twitter tools — and then some — to eliminate the need for manual labor while still charging an arm and a leg for services. Don’t fall victim to this trap, and make sure to evaluate the people you’d be hiring to ensure that they are real people and not set-it-and-forget-it bots. By taking a more automatic route, you’re missing an opportunity to capture the attention of some people who really can matter for your business, so don’t forget to be human too. It’s that easy.

Photos by Shutterstock.

93 Comments

  • I really think you write great articles. I do know that my klout score is a 26, but I do feel that I have great relationships within my own network. I am a proponent of engaging and that is what I definitely specialize in on my own twitter account.

    I totally get where your coming from as far as automation that is not the way to go. I would like to ask you if you it is a problem if I shared your articles? I think they are resourceful and on point.

    • Thanks Monique! And yes, you’re more than welcome to share my articles. My point was mostly to explain that ONLY sharing articles and not engaging at all is a major flaw in the “system” — and it actually helps users accumulate a lot of additional automated followers. That’s not the way to do it. :)

  • I just ordered your book! I look forward to reading it!! You had me sold from day one! =)

  • Jamie Carter says:

    Great article.. i think you really explored the topic well. Before now I’d never heard of klout so I’m going to give it a whirl, I dont expect my influence to be very high at all but its all interesting.

    On your note of automated following, the second I retweeted the post I gained 2 followers.. I have always tried to resist following everyone so they follow me.. and Im quite glad I did. I want my twitter to be interesting and personal to me.. and overall I want it to be managable! how can one keep up with 1000’s when I struggle keeping up with 90.

    • Yeah, I wonder the same thing. If you’re going to be following that many people, Twitter management needs to be your full time job — and we’re talking 24/7/365 (not just 9-5) — and it’s exclusive of anything else you do, which would hardly make you a “social media expert” since your focus would only be on Twitter! Or you can follow a billion people merely to give off the perception that you care when you truly don’t.

      Social media for me is about people, and therefore I do want to care.

  • Kristi says:

    I was a little worried when I saw the pingback of my latest on Twitterfeed with the title of your post. I’m glad you see that my use of it is not about fully automating your accounts, but more to not miss posts by favorite bloggers. Automated accounts really don’t have a lot of influence or interaction, which defeats the purpose of “social” media.

    As far as following everyone back, I do that on Twitter, and the reason why is because I like giving my followers the option to DM me. Yes, I get a lot of spam, but I also get valuable interaction through DM’s daily, so it is worth it.

    • Hi Kristi, I figured that pingback might be scary :) As far as following back, I totally get that and I take the OPPOSITE approach. I will only follow people I WANT DMs from. If I don’t know you, I won’t accept DMs from you. That’s why I follow less than 1% of the people who follow me.

      I guess to each their own — but it’s pretty true that if you auto-follow everyone who follows you, you’re not really interested in what’s going on on your home feed.

      • Kristi says:

        I have lists setup in HootSuite… that’s how I keep an eye out on the people whose updates I don’t want to miss. I’m welcome to DM’s from anyone – I look at it like the Facebook inbox – anyone can chat with me privately without me having to give them my email address. Plus, it prevents people from having to publicly say things like “you’re website’s been hacked” – they can just DM it instead, which I got a few of during the Godaddy WordPress hack wave.

        • Yeah – I guess that makes sense. I get my DMs on my old Treo 755p which I’ve been trying to get rid of for over a year, and I’d hate users abusing the DM facility to kill my phone. To each his own. :)

          p.s. NameCheap (who I consult for) is a much better web host than GoDaddy #justsayin :D

  • Well said, Tamar.

    You can’t outsource relationships. If you goal on social media is to share content (yours and others) and form relationships and you try to automate…you are screwed.

    The top digital schmoozers are present. Not 24/7 and at everyone’s beckon call, but there. Not the intern. Not a robot.

  • Kyle Lacy says:

    The point you made by finding time to ‘nurture our own accounts” its so true. How can someone say they are this or that when their own accounts are lacking in rich content or are automated? Twitter was created to be social not automated! What is the point of having a Twitter if you are doing nothing substantial except wasting time? I agree wholeheartedly with this post.

  • 40deuce says:

    To this day I still go through each and every email I get from Twitter when I get a new follower to check them out and see if I think that their account and mine will go well together. Granted, now I tend to do less of a search on the person, but I still give them a quick once over.
    I like to add people that I think will add value to my stream. Yes, there is a good chance that me and said person may never really interact with each other, but I add them thinking that there is the chance for interaction.
    There is a HUGE difference between being valuable and looking popular, which is why I don’t believe in taking the automated route.

    On a semi-side note, I just tweeted last night about an account that had something like 3,939 followers and 3,965 following yet not 1 tweet. I was so dumbfounded by it. The account that had never tweeted once had more followers than people I know that put out great content and interaction (myself included) and I still can’t wrap my head around how that happens.

    Great post.
    Cheers,

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

    • Cool, thanks Sheldon. :) (Congrats to you guys, by the way!)

      I’d be curious to know what that Twitter account is — there’s definitely some paid automation for sure!

      • 40deuce says:

        Can’t remember the exact one. I just looked at it and submitted it to the spam and ignore setting. But they come up all the time, so I’m sure I’ll see similar ones soon.

  • Chad Egeland says:

    Great article with lots of great points as for following everyone back on Twitter I usually do give a follow back to anyone who follows me and then I use lists to filter out the noise. In saying that thought, I do give every account who follows me a manual once over to ensure they aren’t spam bots or from those users who have 5,000 followers but not a single tweet.

    • Yeah – that’s one of the reasons why I did that too. It just gets much harder when you get so many followers regularly! I wish there was an easier way…

  • Ari Herzog says:

    If numbers do not indicate influence (which I agree), then why do you include Facebook and Twitter share buttons at the top of your blog posts? By your logic, wouldn’t it be better to offer the button without indicating how many times it was clicked?

    • What does one thing have to do with the other?

      Your comparison is apples to oranges. I get that this is all a social proof numbers game. My point is not to judge the specific individuals by the number of followers they have — because that doesn’t denote capability. Comparing a specific blog post to a specific person is, quite frankly, totally not in the same ballpark at all.

      If there’s any comparison at all that can be made of both, it’s the CONTENT itself that should be judged and valued (or not). So read this post. Read the Twitter feeds. Then make a real judgment call of whether to retweet/share or follow. Don’t follow or retweet (and then hire!) merely on the appearance of a number.

      p.s. for me, it’s easy-to-find analytics, essentially. Again, apples and oranges.

      • Ari Herzog says:

        Don’t follow or retweet (and then hire!) merely on the appearance of a number.

        Yet, many people do that. So, why make it easier for them?

        • As previously stated, these numbers aren’t for them. They’re for me.

          If you’re hiring on the basis of numbers, you’re clueless and I’ve said my piece above.

          And if they’re looking to hire me because I’ve apparently made it easier, I’ll tell them what I tell most people: I’m not really looking right now. :)

  • Satinder says:

    Nice, very well written.

  • Bill Morgan says:

    Great article, Tamara. I’m taking a New Media class at Michigan State University this summer and reading blog posts like yours reminds me that “I am just an egg” [from “Stranger in a Strange Land”].

    I was recently in charge of marketing and communications at the local public TV/Radio group and we set up an RSS feed from our local news features to our Twitter account. Even though our stated goal was to create community through interactive communication, it was just so darn easy to set up (and we were newbies) — it seemed like a sure way to add value for our followers. Looking back, it’s now clear that we should also feed the many clever, fun and timely tweets that news staff regularly post via their personal twitter accounts. A mix of off-the-cuff observations and professional reports might be more interactive and engaging.

    I also want to tip my hat to the way you respond to your blog comments. You’re setting the gold standard for the rest of us.

    Thank you!

    • Thanks Bill. It’s hard work (and sometimes I reply WAY too late) but it’s totally worth it.

      Some publications totally can get away with merely feeding their website via RSS. I think that if you’re more than just a publication, though, you need to do a lot more. And if you’re selling your services and aren’t offering true value, you need to rethink your strategy.

  • Kwame says:

    Black hat ‘influence’ methods eh?

    Influence as defined by the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s dictionary is, “the power to have an effect on people or things, or a person or thing that is able to do this”. Clearly, no numbers were stated in that definition.

    Before we can influence people, we need to start a relationship with them (well, it seems like it most of the time). From my experience (offline), influence is the fruit we harvest after planting and nurturing a nursery of relationships.

    No takeaways from this post Tamar. You just whacked some lessons into my head. Time to shift gear.

    You know, sometimes, things we know offline also applies online :D.

    Kwame.

    • Yeah, I can’t argue with that. People think numbers predict influence. Look what Fast Company did. I’m not even participating because of the sheer ridiculousness of the concept.

      • Kwame says:

        Yea, I read something about Fast Company’s influence project on ConversationAgent.com .

        It’s just a shame a highly influential company will make a mistake like that about what influence really stands. It sends a misleading message to people who may also be clueless about what influence is all about.

  • Haider says:

    Great post, Tamar.

    Many businesses are still stuck in the mindset that they have something to offer, and they want to reach the people that are interested in their offerings. They give, and the people receive.

    But with social media, it’s about listening to what customers have to say and what people are truly interested in and concerned about.

    Looking to grab people’s attention without engaging them in conversation is like saying: “Hey! Look at me! I’m in my bubble!”

    Nothing impressive there.

    • Yup — it’s listening to what your customers have to say and giving of yourself by providing your own attention. Just pushing your own agenda sounds much like the behavior of a taker.

      Nice analogy, Haider :)

  • Really great post Tamar!

    Numbers truly is not everything and it is the rage nowadays. I have seen someone with a few hundred twitter followers getting lots of retweets on every posts and someone with tens of thousands of followers get none.

    Automation looks good but it is truly ineffective, true reputation and social media presence can only be built by hardwork and by you knowing what you are doing.

    Thanks so much for the great post,
    -Onibalusi

  • Rekha Srivatsan says:

    Brilliant blog! I’ve always wondered whats the point of auto-following? To me, it does not make sense. It’s just not you! Isn’t social media is about your communication with people.

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

    • Cool, thanks so much Rekha. I don’t get the point at all, though I understand Kristi’s argument above in the comments. I’d never invite DMs like that myself.

  • Jennifer says:

    I really loved this article and it couldn’t have been posted at a better time for me. I haven’t really jumped onto the Twitter bandwagon and have just been getting my feet wet so to speak. As I’m just starting out it’s become evident that a lot of people are playing the numbers game. I agree that interaction is the key to any social media campaign, whatever platform you decide to use. I think people may fall into the trap of automation, especially if they are just starting out because you don’t really know what to say, so it’s easier to just repeat what others are doing.

  • Fred Thompson says:

    Tamar,
    Having read this article and others of yours, and after having read all the connected comments, it would be easy to simply say, “Tamar is at it again…need to take the time to read this one too.” That though would miss the mark. Don’t get me wrong, your articulation is fine, your subject matter timely and all that. It seems to me that your greatest strength is your demonstrable leadership after the article is written and that is where the strongest lesson lies. You fully engage those who respond to what you have written.

  • brian says:

    Thanks for a great post. We have done a great deal of work on our Twitter account and have followed people back. Since we have reached 25,000 followers it has become harder to truly engage like we use too when we had under 10,000 followers.
    Thanks for making some great points and we need to revisit our Twitter Strategy.

    • This is a learning process for everyone.

      When I first used Twitter, I barely engaged. The thought process was that using @tweets would be relevant to one person and would ostracize the other thousands of followers I have.

      Even though I added value, sharing great articles, interesting snippets, etc., it wasn’t personable. So now I do both.

  • Guy says:

    Great post and well said. The idea of a fully automated Twitter feed is not only dull but also way too spammy for my liking. Sure I have automated a few messages but that’s really the foundation for the real interaction with followers which is actual real time human expression!

  • Fred Thompson says:

    I would like to stir the pot a bit. There have been a couple of comments made regarding Fast Company’s newest ‘social media test (?)”, The Influence Project. The comments have had a negative overtone toward this project. It seems that the feeling is that it is not pure, it is not an empirical test that meets the statistical standards for validity and reliability, and I would have to agree. I actually think Fast Company would agree as well, and maybe that is the point. People may simply be able to reach out and have an impact, whether their message is valid or relevant. My personal social media experiment was to take a Twitter account that no longer reflected its’ original purpose and allow it to morph at will. I do not engage directly with followers on this Twitter account, but I tweet what I feel is quality information. Organically my following is close to 6,000 and I will say that I look at every person before following back. Empirically that account may not test well, but I will say that I have engaged many of my followers outside of Twitter and they are quite influential. To further my social media experience I signed up for the Influence Project. It looked to be a little fun, and I certainly wouldn’t take myself any more seriously because of any ranking coming out of it. It is interesting though. I wrote one short article regarding the project and in 24 hours it has been viewed 200 times. I am not sure that represents influence. I checked my ranking and found I am placed in the 1st row of 58. I am not sure that represents influence or anything else, however I think the point of the exercise is not to look for an empirical truism, but to make the point that today anyone can reach out and have an impact.

  • Brian Meeks says:

    Good article.

    I am small enough that I am still able to manage my followers. I do review each person who follows me. 40% get blocked immediately. 50% get followed back, because I am interested in what they might have to say and 10%, I do nothing.

    By immediately blocking almost half the people who follow me, I am able to keep out the people who aren’t Social.

    For me the most important thing to consider is the Follower:Listed ratio. Listed hasn’t been ‘gamed’ yet, so it tells me who is actually being listened to. If someone has a ratio worse than 20:1 (which means 30:1 = bad, for those who don’t like math), they will likely get blocked.

    I also like to punish people who ‘Blast’ a bunch of automated posts, with a block. Overall, I believe twitter takes work and dedication. I have built a wonderful network on Twitter, which is spilling over to SU, and even to my blog.

    Great post, I really enjoyed it.

    • Interesting. Why block them? That’s a bit extreme — why not just elect not to follow them back?

      I think I’ve blocked one person on Twitter, and I don’t even remember why at this point. I do remember that what s/he did was pretty major though.

      • Brian Meeks says:

        Tamar,

        I block them, so that my Follower number is not artificially high. If you just let them stay, then you end up with thousands of people following you, who aren’t real. I have 480 now, but if I hadn’t been staying on top of it, I might be at 2000.
        If I was at 2000, and somebody looked at my follower list, they would see all the spammers, porn, and junk people in there, which would make me, by association, look like I don’t know what I am doing with Twitter.
        I don’t want to have all those people in the mix. I hope that helps.

        Brian

        • Brian Meeks says:

          Tamar,

          I just realized that I been blocking a lot more than 40%, today for instance, I blocked 12, followed 3, did nothing with one. So I guess there is a lot more garbage out there than I had though. It didn’t use to be so bad. When I started the ExtremelyAvg twitter account, it wasn’t nearly so bad, maybe 1 person ever other day.

          I think the legitimate people one gets, the more conversations one has, the more one attracts the junk. The only point I am making is that I have 480 followers, of whom, I know almost all of them, and regularly engage them. Which is the point, isn’t it?

          Brian

        • Hi Brian, I appreciate that.

          As far as this, though, “If I was at 2000, and somebody looked at my follower list, they would see all the spammers, porn, and junk people in there, which would make me, by association, look like I don’t know what I am doing with Twitter,” I think that’s a bit extreme. It matters who YOU’RE following, not who is following you.

          I’ve evaluated my own behavior and I’ve actually spoken with people on this, and I’ve never looked at who follows me (or someone else, for that matter). What matters to anyone I’ve dealt with is who the person is following. That you CAN control. You can’t control spammers who follow you.

          • Brian Meeks says:

            Tamar,

            “You can’t control spammers who follow you”.

            I think that is my point. It is easy to control who follows, which is what I was describing, and why I block so frequently. Today I have only blocked 9 people, but I had 8 new people which I followed. That is a good day indeed. It took only a few minutes.

            I keep my list of followers clean of junk. If you have never tried cleaning out your follower list, I say give it a shot. Who knows, you might find a lot of people worth blocking. You can’t really know how great it is to block the junk, until you give it a try, and then you will have a better understanding of who is listening.

            But it is obviously up to you. I just know that I love my methodology, and if more people start blocking the junk, maybe there will be less of it.

            Brian

  • Velamen Akademie says:

    Dear Tamar, I really love your headlines and I recognized another time that male social media texts are often about numbers, growth and increase. Yours are more about the social aspect. I hate links to all the ebooks on how to increase your follower-numbers. I just wrote an article bout time and twitter (www.velamen.tumblr.com). Is there somebody cooperating with you in Germany? I´d love to build a female blog on social media marketing which is not so much on the feminism topic. It´s just the two views on social media management, male and female… exciting topic. I should write about it. If I could only find the time ;-)

    • Thanks Velamen. The only cooperation I have in Germany is that my book has been translated to German. I’m not really sure I have time for another blog venture; it’s hard enough with the guest posts I’ve been asked to write on top of my posts here!

  • Rob says:

    Tamar, great article! I noticed you responded to every comment as well…wow! The last line is where it’s at, don’t forget to be human! I also need to be a tech geek and say while we MUST add our human touch to it, a lot sharing in social media can be automated! I just did up a post on how you can mark something shared in Google Reader with a quick note and it can be blasted out everywhere with ease…balance in everything. Still awesome thoughts that dig further into social media and the new economy that I love.

    • Oh sure, just about everything can be automated. I wouldn’t recommend that approach at all though. Automation isn’t genuine. :)

      Thanks Rob for commenting!

  • dominiq says:

    I really like your aticle and I’m impressed with your comments !

    In the same line, I really think that automated anything (sentiment, response, analysis) is a wrong paradigm for social.

    Here is a post I wrote on that topic. http://blog.jenniferlindsay.com/2010/07/06/why-sentiment-analysis-cant-work-and-why-it%E2%80%99s-a-damned-good-thing/

    Thanks again

    • Dominiq – I totally agree. Sentiment is really hard to analyze. Gathering that information and manually reviewing them is paramount. Good call and thanks for pointing out that post!

  • Great article – hope people take note

  • Murlu says:

    You never want to take the social out of social media otherwise it becomes just another aggregation service (which I deep down actually despise because it takes away the fun of finding stuff on your own).

    I think the best way, as Seth Godin would say it, is to create something remarkable and make it so people actually want to share it. When people share your stuff, you have no choice but to join in and talk to the people that have become obsessed.

    • Gah! I thought I responded to these comments — where are they? :o Sorry.

      Aggregator sites are evil. I get why they exist, but you’re right, the fun is gone.

      Going for the Purple Cow is fine by me!

  • Mike Wilton says:

    I had to revisit this post again today Tamar, 1 because I couldn’t agree with you more and 2 because it was dancing around in the back of my mind for about half of the duration of a meeting I was in. The talk was all about automation, self promotion and a twitter account on autopilot. I wanted to pull my hair out. That being said I have decided I am going to print out this post and carry with me everywhere I go. Then, when someone tries to pull the automation card, I’m going to roll it up and hit them in the head with it, look ‘em square in the eye and say, “No!”. Once they get the point I’ll unroll it and make them read it. LOL

  • Gareth Rees says:

    Words of wisdom as always Tamar. The first thing potential clients say to me is how do we get 10,000 followers on Twitter? So the “engagement is everything” speech certainly gives them a new insight. I agree that automation has it’s uses but to be real, you’ve got to put in the work, but that work does pay off.

    • Yeah. So I’ve played with tools that sometimes help boost follower counts. However, I look at who I’m following after 2-3 days and find out that a large percentage of them don’t even speak English. I end up manually purging half the list.

      You can do it, but will you follow your home feed? Nope!

  • Tamar, Thanks for posting this, plan to share it as soon as I am done here. I am a manual user, it’s me LIVE or not at all; just the only way it makes sense. Sure my LinkedIn page is linked to Twitter, and will automatically update my latest blog post but that’s it.

    Cannot count how many times I’ve seen a Big Name expert has RT something almost immediately (too quickly to have read) or sent a dead link (which means they did not even try to read it). Could have been the worst post ever, IDK. I read before I share.

    To Brian and Fred: “to block or not to block” I block if it’s clear they are trolls and spammers just selling loans and porn, not interested. If it’s a newbie without enough information, I don’t block but don’t return the follow. Now if I have time to go back, and that newbie left Twitter 6 months ago, I might block so it’s not a false number. Ditto the “broadcast” experts: don’t block them, but don’t follow either.

    It’s not a numbers game, but I do look at the ratio of following/followers but more than that, the ratio of broadcast tweets, to RTs, to actual @replies and conversation. I try for a smart balance, look for that in others. FWIW.

    • Brian Meeks says:

      Davina,

      I think you strategy sounds like a good one.

      I tried something new today, I started to send a reply to some of the people who were sort of borderline and simply asked them why they were following me and if they were just trying to build followers.

      One person then unfollowed immediately. I wrote her back and thanked her for. :-) It is a kinder gentler way to get rid of the people who are playing the numbers game.

      Of course, if I don’t hear back, then I block them.

      Brian

      • Thanks for the reply Brian. Everyone uses Twitter for different reasons, so the follow and block strategies will vary across the board. I’m out here networking primarily for business, but it’s the authentic me and I also like meeting new people, reading different points of view. FWIW.

    • hmm, Chris Brogan hates the connectivity between LinkedIn and Twitter. I get where he’s coming from.

      I, like Brian, like your strategy as well!

  • Just to contribute, I would like to give good and easy tips you can find out whether it is a verified or a fake twitter account. First thing is, If you look at the tweets made by the account who has thousands of followers that should be at least in the equal ration. Secondly you can search in the twitter search field with the users account like this: ‘@twitterusername’. A fake account normally shows up in the real-time twitter results!

  • Steve Cohen says:

    Too many frikin experts out there with 50,000 fake fans. Typically good for me as I am called in to scale back the social media mess and rationalize the SM business strategy.

  • Tamar –

    This is an automated bot leaving an automated comment on your blog. As a bot, I really don’t care about the context of your post, or the meaning it conveys. All I have been programmed to do is search for keywords and respond to them based on my scanty vocabulary. So at times I will be way off the mark.

    Jokes apart – you made a very valid point, Tamar. Social media is all about being authentic, genuine and real. Automation in social media kills all of that – and more. It adds no value to anyone involved.

    I listed down three reasons why automating social media is a bad idea on my blog, Social Media Notebook, this morning – and I am sure we can collectively add many more to make that comprehensive.

    We’re all on social media channels to engage with our flocks. True engagement that transcends tweets, scraps and wall scribbles – and moves into the realm of authentic communication, genuine empathy and real commitments.

    That’s the right – and the only road to go – in social media. And automation definitely does not enjoy a place here.

  • Excellent post! Great comprehensive guide on how to interact in the social media space.

  • Thank you, thank you! When I first heard of automated social media practices it seemed a little hypocritical. If you’re investing in social media, you need to interact with people within your industry and share quality information that’s useful and can benefit you both. At the end of the day, it’s quality leads over quantity!

  • Vivek says:

    Awesome post … :D

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