« BrightTALK's Conversational Marketing Summit in full swing | Main | Blogging is dead? Pulease! So is email then. »

December 03, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Steve Woodruff

Paul, as you know from our prior exchanges (which were non-automated, of course!) I don't have quite the same binary view of Twitter automation. I use one auto-message to greet new followers because I know that otherwise I won't get to it, and I do include a link - however, that link isn't a pitch, it's my Twitter "full disclosure" which gives a slightly amusing foreshadowing of what to expect now that you're following me. For me, even if automated, it's a courtesy.

Of course, "click on my junk" pitch messages (automated or not) are to be abominated - but it's not the automation that's the problem. It's the attitude that views followers as objects to pummel with "me" messages. Automation is not needed for people to be selfish.

Timed tweets are useful for sharing resources across a broader range of audiences in different time zones. Again, if it's just tweets to self-promote, that's bad - but as before, the issue isn't the automation, it's the attitude. I use timed tweeting to promote others' posts and to share resources with my audience. I even time-delay some retweets so that valuable links are shared with a different audience.

I will take issue with your "rule" that Twitter is a cocktail party, strictly for networking and real-time conversation. It is that, certainly, and I use it that way as well. But that's an arbitrary "rule", as Twitter is a great platform for asynchronous sharing as well. Both-and, not either-or. And that type of sharing does not, in any way, need to be advertising. It can be very other/community-focused.

Like anything else, automation can be abused, or it can be used to benefit others. I know you (& others) have some issues with the bathwater. But don't toss out the baby with it.

Jim Turner

I have been thinking of getting someone to make me an auto-unfollower for those with an auto-responder. I tend to take a moment and send a message, even if just a little personal to the person following. I can take the 2 sec amount of time to thank them and say hello. I take a moment to look at the bio, perhaps a first page of tweets and see what I have in common. I like your rules! If you want to test me on my way of Twittering you can follow me at @Genuine. Wait...did I just break a rule?

Shailesh Ghimire

I agree with you. I'm starting to un-follow those with machine like responses. There appear to be a few who put the same tweet with a link to their blog post on a scheduled basis. I'm interested in talking to people not being the subject of their shouts.

Paul Chaney

I don't want to appear unreasonable in my opposition toward the use of automation. It's just that once we start down this slippery slope, what's next?

I mean, we already have pay-per-tweet via Magpie, which is an even worse idea.


I told you I'd get back to this with more thoughts.

I have mixed feelings. An auto welcome doesn't bother me. Even with a link. As long as I don't feel like they are hawking. Even so, it's not an action I'd judge.

What I don't care for are follows that have the distinct stink of a bot. I may be the "new kid" but I am not wet behind the ears. I use the same street smarts I used growing up in DC as I do in Twitterville. Toss me a follow, and I'm gonna check you out.

It doesn't take a twit to realize that you are following umpteen gazzillion, have a handful of followers (none of whom I recognize), and have a homepage full of nothing, nonsense, and/or a bunch of look at me's/buy this tweets. Thanks, but no thanks.

Now. Auto-generated tweets. It depends. I might be interested. Might not. I might be interested today, and could care less tomorrow. I might not care today, but I might be looking for just that type of info next week. Or next year.

So my feeling on that is go ahead. There are enough options out there for me to deal with your broadcasts. As I've said, I can ignore, unfollow, or filter it. But if you want to do that -AND- you want to place the socialize game, you'd be better off to use different accounts and let your followers choose the noise level.

Paul Chaney

Lisa, yours is an approach that makes the most sense to be sure, but I've never been known as a person who exhibits a great deal of common sense. Heh.

What troubles me most in all of this is the trend away from real, authentic, human interactions.

For example, when you call a business would you rather be greeted by a computerized voice or a real human being?

Would you rather receive a mail-merged form letter that contains your name and other forms of personalization or a hand-written note?

I think the answer to both is obvious and it seems to me Twitter could have served as a bastion for that level of personal interaction, but no more.

We damned marketing types have gotten hold of it and, just like we did with blogs a few years ago, have figured out ways to turn something that had real, personal "high touch" value into a Rube Goldberg device designed with one purpose in mind, to make money.

You may remember the old ad, "Is it live or is it Memorex?" In that same vein how do I know the response I received from someone I followed is actually them, or nothing more than a server call? I can't.

The path to social media marketing nirvana is littered with all kinds of aberrant monstrosities: faux blogs, pay-per-post, blog spam, automated content scraping/reposting, content syndication to multiple blogs appearing as if the blogger wrote it, but didn't, Facebook Beacon...shall I go on?

Now, Twitter is following in those same footsteps: Bots, TWAM, auto-responders and scheduled posting.

As to your mention of someone including a link, I received this last night: "_______ Thanks for the follow! Hope Im worth it ;) Tip: cool free blog tool: http://www.________.com/Freebloggingtool Good luck!"

What kind of message does that send? That the person really has an interest in getting to know me or at least values my content, or that he simply wants to hawk his wares? Again, the answer is obvious.

Someone once said that blogging is the last form of honest advertising. The connotation was that the opinion of the blogger could be trusted, that their POV represented what they really thought, felt and believed to be true.

Blogging and social media offered the opportunity for companies large and small to return to what Toby Bloomberg called the "corner grocer" approach to marketing. Real, personal, genuine, authentic...relationships built on trust.

I believe it still holds the opportunity, but with things like automation, we are bound and determined to screw it up!

Maybe tomorrow I'll wake up and find myself gifted with a much healthier dose of common sense. Then, maybe, this won't be such an issue for me. Until then, I'll continue to raise awareness.


A mini-case for automated Tweets - I run a wine trade organization through a Ning-based social network - http://www.theowc.org - many times the social network platform doesn't do a great job of telling people when new forum topics or groups topics are created so I use Twitter and a special Twitter account that people can follow. Its automated via RSS and does ask people to check the new topic. Of course this is opt-in as people have to follow the OWC Twitter account.

Just saying it helps because not everyone uses RSS (believe it or not) and not everyone wants tons of email updates.

Good post. Agree in principle.


Great to meet everyone...building relationships is the key to this!
Build, build, build.....SWSWSWSW.....
From Jack Canfield....ASK, ASK, ASK! Some will, some won't , so what, SOMEONE IS WAITING! With the dream to help one billion people and turn this country and world around.....Just Do It! It is a great thing to get to know people.....you must BUILD that relationship......60% of ALL sales are made after the 4th exposure of your business! Remember that peeps.....that means you're building that relationship!
See ya soon...thanks Maria...smile!

Dave Evans

Great post Paul. To this day I continue to review each 'follow' by hand -- takes a while but I've also built a trusted network that has answers more often than not.

Paul Chaney

I've changed my tactics due to the follow constraints placed upon me by Twitter. I'm more discerning as to who I follow as a result. And I do it all by hand as well.

The comments to this entry are closed.

The Digital Handshake

  • The Digital Handshake

    Paul's newest book, The Digital Handshake, is available from these fine booksellers. Order your copy today!

    buy2amxm buybamsm
    buybnoblesm buybordsm

About Paul