January 26, 2013

Just like I won't buy followers, I won't use Auto Responders on Social Media platforms. To me it seems impersonal. I'm looking to develop an honest and real following online and the only way to do that is by being honest and real. There are few things I like less than receiving a Twitter DM that is spamming someone's Facebook page or blog just because I decided to follow them.

I understand the intent. If someone was interested enough to follow me on Twitter, chances are they are interested enough to read my blogs or follow me elsewhere online. But the obviously pre-programmed DM that lists this information is boring and annoying. There are much better ways to get a following. It might take more time, but if we want a real online community, we have to be prepared to commit the time. Respond to the followers that share our interests and comment on their similarities. Respond to potential clients by complimenting them on their business and offering a free tip. Respond to seemingly unrelated followers by thanking them and welcoming the growth of our communities. After a conversation has ensued, then, and only then, should we be promoting our other platforms to them.

I occasionally receive an auto-bot response that intrigues me. It asks me a question or provides a tip that I find useful. So I actually engage and respond to the DM with my answer or comments. Here's the thing, I have NEVER received a DM response back. This provides another example of why I don't like Auto Responders. Not only am I frustrated but I often stop following this person as well. If we aren't actively engaging in the conversation with our followers, then we won't be prepared to respond to their comments either. When I take the time to research the other person and provide them with a personal message, I look forward to their response and the ensuing conversation.

You may be thinking, there's no way we can possibly respond to every person that follows us online. And you're right. There probably isn't enough time in the day to reach out to each individual person. But that's ok. I'd rather have someone re-tweet me, reply to a post, or share my content in the future and show genuine interest in me, then have them send me a generic auto-bot greeting.

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  1. Your right darling. Unfortunately there is too much to complain about social media but no one is listening. An way i am a real human being following you because i have been in twitter for about 3 months. I love YouTube and that’s where i have been for a long time

  2. Good post. Auto generated posts are embarrassing, and in my opinion can be detrimental to a brand’s online presence.

    1. Thanks Matt! And, I agree, I have unfollowed people or revoked a connection due to auto generated posts. They definitely can hurt a brand or reputation.

  3. Interesting. I do not outright disagree with your advice. But I wonder…perhaps there is a place for auto-responders? Within the last month I created a magazine style website. I also created a corresponding page on RebelMouse to curate all of the activity on the social streams associated with that site. There is this feature where every time I publish content to the RebelMouse page from Twitter via a retweet or a favorite, it publishes a tweet with the author’s Twitter handle…along with a link to the RebelMouse page. The auto-responder just simply says, “Hey, your tweet has been featured on….”

    Because I don’t have analytics tied into the RebelMouse page (its an extra charge…this is just a hobby for me, so not interested), so I do not know exactly how many people are clicking through. But I did add 40 new follows in the past week, and I would say about 1 out of 5 respond back to the DM (which I then respond to).

    Now my boyfriend honestly told me that the twitter feed for that account looked “spammy”…since about 1/3 of the tweets were from this auto-responder. However I told him that people are seeing the tweet pop up in their feed with their mention included; not my entire feed by default. Needless to say, since he said this, I have been paying closer attention and trying to break up the auto-responder tweets with original tweets, sharing and media (photos and video).

    I also use RebelMouse for my personal website; where I do not have the auto-responder turned on (and wouldn’t dare to either). I’ve had my personal Twitter account for quite a few years. I’m not about to ruin its “voice” with an auto-responder. Also I would rather route people to my personal website rather than my RebelMouse page; which is set up as just another page in my personal website. However I do not update this magazine so often…maybe once per week. So I use the RebelMouse page as sort of a holdover to keep people interested in the meantime.

    So sorry for being long winded, but your post has brought my thinking about the auto-responder issue full circle. My overall objective is to simply share content and media that is of interest to my followers. And I want them to do the same in return. Sort of like virtual trading cards; I’ll show you what I found, you show me what you found. For me, the auto-responder makes it simple to let someone know that I found and then re-shared their stuff. I gesture that they usually appreciate. But we will see how it goes. I honestly did not expect my twitter following to increase so much once I started this auto-responder thing. It sort of took on a life of its own. I’ll see what happens over the next six months or so. I won’t be opposed to losing it at some point. I’ll just have to see how this plays out. Also I wouldn’t be so quick to suggest this approach to other people. It’s pretty one-dimensional engagement and I’m just looking for a cursory, entertainment level relationship with my followers.

    1. Hi Shona! Welcome to the blog and thanks for your comments. You do bring up an interesting scenario for the use of auto-responders. There are many people who use paper.li sites and (I’m assuming) use “auto-responders”, much like you do, to inform people if their article has been shared. In fact, I get a number of these notifications from others almost daily. And, as you said, I appreciate it. I like to know if and where my content got shared. Or if they’re sharing another’s authors’ post that I shared, I like to know what’s resonating with others. So, while I don’t necessarily disagree with this type of auto-responder post, if these tweets are accounting for a third (as you mentioned) or more of your tweets, you either need to work in more tweets that don’t look automated or cut back on the number of automated tweets being sent out.
      Another thought, and I know we don’t necessarily have the time, but if you’re only updating the site once a week, would it be worth it to send a personalized tweet versus the auto-generated tweet. Something that said, “@so-and-so, I really enjoyed your post this week about blah-blah-blah and wanted to let you know I shared it to my magazine site. You can view your post here: [email protected]” Going the extra mile to interact with your audience will resonate with them and the others viewing your feed.
      The fact that you’re responding to others when they respond to the auto-generated tweet is great! That is what you should be doing. But what about the other 4 out of 5 who aren’t responding? Are you losing out on the opportunity to connect with them?
      I also have to touch on the fact that you said you wouldn’t dare do this on your personal site and yet you’re open about doing it on the other site. I understand we all have “jobs” and “obligations” that don’t always take the same precedence as our personal endeavors, but imagine if we put the same effort into those “jobs” as we did our personal sites. We are so committed to nurturing our personal relationships and yet we treat business relationships as business cards. Take that same passion for your personal connections and treat your professional connections the same way – you’ll be amazed at what becomes of your business!
      Anyways, I think it is important to determine what works for you. And if, in these types of situations, an auto-responder is ideal, then maybe that’s ok. As long as you take the interaction beyond that level and ensure that ALL of your other engagement is live and real.

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