Back in October, I watched the U.S. presidential debates live on television with about 67 million other Americans. TV was the main event, despite the fact that platforms like YouTube and Ustream offered some great non-TV alternatives. But like any other big media event these days, there was a significant online conversation happening in real-time. And for the most part, that was a conversation between and among humans. But every once in a while, a robot got a word or two in.
Twitter, which was my go-to platform for my two-screen political experience, generated more than 10 million debate-related tweets. But the tweet that caught my eye -- no, I didn't read all 10 million #Debate tweets -- wasn't political. Not even close.
Adam Kleinberg, the CEO of Traction, made a keen observation somewhere in the middle of the first debate. While the majority of us on Twitter were dissecting the political theater in real-time, a few people had clearly left their robots in charge. And those unattended robots were doing some real damage.
"What I found ironic [was] that some of the biggest 'gurus' of digital and social marketing were the ones revealing themselves as robotic posers in the social sphere," Kleinberg wrote in a blog post the next day that called out some of those gurus.
But while the debates exposed some social media gurus as clumsy, at best, and charlatans, at worst, I began to think about the larger role of bots in social. After all, a lot brands use bots, especially on Twitter. But I wondered if it was really a good idea to use a bot at all?