Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Twitter BOTs : Blessing or Curse?

In my school days, there was a favorite topic for debate competition -- "Is Science Blessing or Curse?". I have participated few times and had to put points from the both side. My stand was, and is always is -- there can not be black and white in the World. It depends on how we use and make good out of any function or technology.

Now Twitter BOT seems the same. I am happy to know that a Human (Aston Kutcher) won over a BOT (CNN) in the race to have 1 M followers. Would like to look into the matter into more detail here.

Reasons to hate BOTs.

1. Welcome Auto-DMs used as Ads
Auto-DMs are really annoying. When you follow people they say welcome with an ad -- "please visit our site xxxx". I take this as an offence. Suppose you come to our company site and we start telling you about our service one after the other without knowing why you came and what your interest is.
Do you like this? I am sure you wont. Best strategy is always to listen first, understand and then talk. And when you talk its better to ask questions and genuine questions. This will ensure good relation build-up, thus ensuring the successful use of Social Media.

2. Too Many and Automated DMs
When I follow you, I am subscribing to your Tweets and not to your DMs. You can DM, but not regularly to piss me off and force me to unfollow or block you. It is a good way of taking relations private and personal to have successful professional co-operation. Robotized actions in such functions can only harm.

3. Frequent Tweets
Twitter is not a Media like any other Media like Radio, Television or NewsSite. You don't need to be there all time. It is simply because, no one is listening only to you.
Twitter is a Media where people follow many others and share things. Quality of Tweet matters a lot than Frequency. If the frequency is too high for followers to follow, you can only lose them; you have a share of people's time and you better stick to it. Increasing the share can be a long term strategy with well thought planning, this needs quality of service and not quantity.

I unfollow any users who use BOTs to Tweet more than 5 Tweets a Min. This is irrespective of the quality of Tweet.

4. Automated RTs
This is another annoying thing. RTs are done for the Tweets that you find interesting and worthy for others to read. People have high expectations while visiting the links that are RTed. If you use a BOT for that purpose and wrong Tweets get RTed, you are gone. It can harm a lot and you may end up losing followers.
More important is the fact that such actions will lower the value of RTs. Accounts are graded by many Account graders using this metric, and the automated RTs of the useless Tweet will affect that badly.

(We are working to blacklist and remove RTs from the ReTweeter BOTs while calculating scores in Buzzom.)

5. Repeated Tweets
There are few BOTs in the TwitterSphere which Tweet about certain no. of links or services. They continuously do the repetition and add no value to the followers. It only decreases the relevance of the user and is most likely to be unfollowed.

Reasons to Like BOTs

1. Automated Followback
This is detable again whether you need to followback all who follow you. I do feel, it is necessary atleast to know what the follower has to say. I unfollow when I feel the user add no value.

This followback takes huge time as I get 200 to 500 followers daily, and it actually pains to follow each of them. I use Buzzom for this, and I am pretty happy it does for me. It has the facility to choose whom to follow back and whom not to.

I may even choose to have automated followback, but have not done it so far.

2. Find New and Interesting People
Twitter is believed to be having around 25 million users, and they all differ in their likings and dislikings. If I want to know who are from my domain and who have interest matching my interest, I need a system to tell me. I need a BOT!

3. Grow Regularly and Timely
I want to find and follow people from certain areas like Analytics and Economy. I also like to follow people who are likely to follow me back and grow my follower base. I can do it manually but again it takes times. If I have certain benahoir that can be automated, why not do it.

I would like to use BOT for some regular stuffs, but want to make sure my action does not annoy anyone. My experience is that continuously follow and unfollow pisses off some people. If anyone can give me facility where these things dont happen, I will certainly use a BOT and save my time.
Buzzom have tested BOT with such facility and is coming up with BOT Factory soon. You may want to explore it.

4. Quality Feeds
If you are a blogger or a News Site owner, you will need a BOT to set-up feed Tweets. I am not a big fan of such feeds but don't have any problem if they are quality, genuine and manageable. I would actually love to see feed Tweets from CNN, BBC, TechCrunch etc., provided the frequency is manageable. This would mean if I get 100 Tweets in 5 mins from CNN, no way i am going to follow them and lose what other folks have to say.

When done timely and properly, feeds are actually great. They have huge value to the followers, and you save your time. A win-win situation.

5. SPAM Control
An Iron can cut Iron, a bamboo stick cannot. Only an BOT can find and nullify the SPAMMING BOT. Out of 25 million Tweeters, and out of hundreds and thousands of Tweeters we follow, there are a few thousand such Spamming BOTs that trouble us. It can be fought back only in two ways -- 1. having too much control and choosing followings with much care 2. go for a mass follow and make huge number of friends, while having a BOT working to control the SPAM in your follow list.
If you follow the first approach, you are not using the strength of Twitter and using it like Orkut or Facebook. Twitter is about going out and reaching to the maximum possible people outside of your friend circle. If you compromise here, you lose the fun and the opportunity of this new Social Media Revolution.
Have the second one, and get relaxed.

My Take:
BOTs are not essentially bad, and can be blessing in disguise. Individuals need to make a Twitter strategy and get it going. BOT may or maynot be suitable to you; you are the best person to judge.

If you like this article, do not forget to follow me in Twitter.


David Bruce said...

Thank You
Thank YOu
Thank YOU

you wrote:
"You don't need to be there all time. It is simply because, no one is listening only to you."

Now tell that to a half million misguided marketers attempting to cash in on twitter.

PS, I do Local SEO, found you from comment you left on Asif Anwar's blog

Bhupendra said...

Most people confuse at this point, and try to be present at all times. This is however use loss of time.

Thanks for the good words :)


Aakar said...

This is very much informative and interesting too.

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