Should you kill your social media bots?

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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.

Should you kill your social media bots?

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.

Should you kill your social media bots?

"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?



FEDERICA FATALE March 27, 2013 at 12:38 PM

New communication tools, new apps and especially the social media are profoundly changing the relationship between Brand, Companies, Public or Private Institutions and their target audience.
From a "simple message recipient " now user has become an active subject, the protagonist of a two-way communication on multiple platforms.
The challenge for the different Brands, or in this case for political Institutions is to be able to understand this change.
The user wants transparency, fairness and a really equal communication.
The use of robots or automatic responses has the advantage of being inexpensive, and, above all, it offers a continuous and immediate feedback.
But be careful.
The overuse of robots and of standardized responses could betray the consumers' trust and could undermine their loyalty and fidelity to the Brand.

Federica Fatale
Sales manager of Hieroglifs Translations