Thursday, February 25, 2010

Down With Social Automation

UnMarketing has talked about it.

Shelly Kramer is constantly speaking out about it.

Twitter-Fail has a whole separate CATEGORY about it.

Remarkablogger talks about it.

Dozens of websites talk about it, both in favor and against it. Generally the ones in favor of it are the ones providing or selling automation services.

Now, since you won't listen to anyone above me...maybe you'll listen to me. I can dream, can't I?

Stop it already with the automated Twitter messages. We know. You cannot disguise them. You've tried personalization. We figured it out. You tried automating public messages. We fell for it for about five minutes, then we looked at your stream and saw the same message sent out to many, many people. You're NOT fooling everyone...let alone anyone.

There's a reason it's called SOCIAL media...its about socialization. If I wanted to talk to a robot, I'd fire up IRC or some other old chat client. I'm not the first to admit it, but anyone who sends me an auto DM with an ad or a blog link in it before even saying hello or anything is immediately blocked. Surprisingly, there are several big names I don't follow because of this, and I'm no worse off for it.

If you want followers...just talk to people. Do what honest, social people do. Follow some heavy hitters in your industry, and mine their follower lists. See who they talk to, and so on. Before you know it, you've got a good list of legitimate follows and followers, and you're engaging with them happily, all without having to automate anything, and without pissing everyone off. It's really not that hard. Just try it, I promise we won't bite....unless you auto DM us.


  1. I TOTALLY agree with this. I can't stand it when I get an auto DM that says "Hey thanks for following! Visit my website so I can sell you my shit!". I'm paraphrasing of course. But it's so unpersonal which goes against (as you said) everything that social networking is about.

    I must say, however, that I have gotten some good ones. From @Derek_Haines "Hi! Thanks for following me. Be prepared for the ramblings of an idiot! Have a great day." which I thought was funny and kept and also from @randyfritz "Thanks for the follow. BEWARE! Besides connecting, and health and internet tips ...I pass on Chuck Norris jokes. Have a great day!". For an auto DM these are some of the better ones, it at least lets you know there is a real person back there.

    But otherwise I agree. Down with the auto DM.

  2. Yeah, it's nice to see someone with a sense of humor behind them, but they're still annoying. I applaud the effort, but still end up blocking more than likely.

    It really is about engagement, and more often than not, an account that auto DMs is rarely about public engagement. There are exceptions to that rule of course, but I don't find very many if at all.

    Thanks for the comment Caitlin!

  3. Great post, Mark, and I totally agree. For me, almost without exception, anyone who sends me an automated message loses major brownie points in my book. I don't need someone to say "thanks for the follow" ... I'd much rather they just do something novel like, oh, wait, TALK to me. That's thanks enough. And, as much as I hate the auto DMs, I also hate the people who make a big deal in public about their new followers - as if tweeting about their new follows and thanking them publicly makes them even more important.

    But, for me, anything automatic just reeks of insincerity and, as you know, insincerity just doesn't sit well with me.

    Down with the auto DM - down with the "thank you" DM and onward and upward with the "hi, I'm a real person, damn glad to know ya - whazzzzup?"



  4. Shelly - I agree completely. Take a moment to say hi at some point - I don't care if its right away, or two weeks later, but say something to let me know you're out there. If there's a DM in my mailbox two seconds after I followed you, I know its automated. The same with all the auto retweet/auto reply robots. I can plainly see that there's nobody there.

  5. This is a great post Mark! and you are right - those automated messages on twitter are very annoying!

    I can understand automated emails, but not a social networking site.. I agree with you - the optimal word is SOCIAL!

    Hope a lot of people have listened! :)

  6. I hope so too - but I'd wager not, but I've been wrong before.

    Automated emails are different, especially since for the useful ones you need to sign up for a list!

  7. I think we have to draw a distinction between auto-replies to new follows, auto spam messages, etc., and using automation to, for instance, send a new blog post to Twitter and/or Facebook. I have no problem with the latter.

    Like you, I have a HUGE problem with the former.

  8. Yes, there is a good side to automation, I'm working on a post about that at the moment. I agree, there are SOME acceptable uses for automation.

  9. As a communication tool, Twitter is a FAIL fot me and I suspect a hell of a lot of other people. I still use Twitter, but differently.

  10. There really is no single use for Twitter - and I'm sure there are plenty of people it wouldn't work for, that's just how it goes.

    What do you use it for, Greg? Thanks for coming by.