Automated tweets are a controversial topic and for many businesses in social media, act as the proverbial double-edged sword with the capacity to divide industry professionals. On one side of the coin, automated tweets are a fantastic time saver, they allow you to maintain a constant presence on twitter and tweet at any hour of the day and you even auto-reply to any @mentions that you receive. For businesses, they are a cost-effective way to maintain a constant social media presence which is especially useful if you have an audience in a completely different time zone.
Conversely, there is also a huge downside to automated tweets: they are not a substitute for real human engagement and many people can find them irritating, especially if they are very obviously automated and everyone knows, engagement is a key component to social media success.
When @reallyvirtual inadvertently reported the Osama Bin Laden capture back in May in real time, news was soon being reported faster on Twitter and Facebook than it was by official publications. The reactions that followed exposed who was using automated twitter feeds and who wasn’t. The problem was that automated responses were completely irrelevant to the frenzied discussion that was taking place on Twitter at the time.
Recognising this, many news providers have taken the decision to replace their automated tweets editors with human ones. @BBCworld and @Guardiannews decided to end their automated tweets in late October and already we have noticed a difference in both quality and sustained interest.
In his justification for the news outlets move from automated tweets, the BBC’s social media editor Chris Hamilton was quoted as saying: “We want to be tweeting with value… Are we exposing our best content, and also tweeting intelligently?” But what actually constitutes twitter intelligence?
Signal to noise is probably the biggest hurdle for anyone on social media sites to conquer and the sheer scale of the presence of automated tweets does not improve the situation. The problem with the abundance of noise is that people tend to ignore to messages which don’t immediately engage them. After all, people join social networks in order to engage and enhance their relationships as well as share information.
The unfortunate fact for automated newsfeeds is that humans can come up a tweet headline which is far more engaging than anything a machine can generate; this more poignant in regard to @mentions, PMs and replies. After all, Twitter is intended to be a platform for two way conversation and simulated human contact just doesn’t cut it. The advantage of the human tweet has since been illustrated on @BBCnews’ twitterfeed (they still use automated tweets at night and there is a clear difference between those automatically posted and those posted by human editors).
The thing about social media is that it is real-time engagement and while it is possible to be successful with carefully curated automated postings, we would advise any business against becoming automated on twitter 100% of the time because it is less likely that your followers will listen to what you have to say.Tags:Automated Tweets, BBC news, Current Issues, Engagement, Facebook, Guardian News, Human engagement, News, Osama Bin Laden, social media, Social Networking, Twitter