Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
March 26, 2011 6:57 AM

Social Media Automation, Respect, Credibility And Robots

It's easy to automate Social Media. It's easier to automate your online engagement. I'll caution against it.

An online connection recently introduced a new service that enables people on Twitter to bring together a small group of trusted Bloggers that will automatically retweet out to everyone's network all of the Blog posts that the group of Bloggers creates individually. On the surface, it seems like a cool idea: you choose the Bloggers you know and trust, and all of the content created by this collective is shared within the entire collective's Twitter network. The spirit of this platform sounds great: ensure that great content gets shared and gets attention.

It's not for me. I'm not a robot.

I don't want to automate my tweets - even ones about Blog posts from people I know, like, respect and follow. The truth is, I don't get a chance to read everyone's Blog posts all of the time, and it seems disingenuous to recommend something automatically to my connections without spending some time with a piece of content and thinking about if it would add real value to the people I am connected to. It seems like automating this process is a little spammy and it feels wrong to recommend something that I may not have seen at all.

It's easy for me to say, I have a nice-sized network already. 

I don't need a service like this. I have an audience and it continues to grow on its own, but what about the Bloggers who are just starting out? How do they build audience? Well, if I only had a handful of followers on Twitter, I would probably be less interested in this service. If I only have a few people who trust me enough to follow me and connect with me, how would I ever be able to build up a network of trust and credibility if I'm automating this process for such a small/close-knit community?

Can this work?

The concept works and can scale if each person within the network truly does read and follow every Blog post that every Blogger within the network posts, and feels that every piece of content is always worthy of sharing with their audience. Does that sound reasonable? My years of experience Blogging says, "no." People are inundated with content and a place like Twitter adds a more human (and real) way to curate and edit content. If everyone winds up automating that process to tweet out like a robot every piece of content, Twitter becomes nothing more than another RSS reader where your connections are choosing your subscriptions (instead of you). I follow people on Twitter because they act as amazing curators, not because they're retweeting out every Blog post from the people they respect, but rather the best Blog posts from the people they respect.

Gaining credibility and trust online is not about automating the process. It's the same reason big brands struggle to make credible connections as well.

By Mitch Joel