Dress Up A Bot However You Like, It Still Sucks For At Least Three Reasons…
I hate bots. I think they suck. The context I’m speaking of here is in social media where a bot is a tool you use to automatically respond to someone or to automate your content so that it posts automatically somewhere, often from one platform to the next. I’ve always said bots and automation is not a good look for a brand under most circumstances. I actually appreciate this platform (Squarespace) for making real people available in the chat to help you if you need tech support, and Facebook for all of their annoyances makes real people available in chat for advertisers too. Yet many brands - even small businesses use the Facebook Instant Messenger bot to auto reply to questions their prospects / customers may have. Many times when you visit a business page they just pop up automatically. They may even be equipped with the answer to the most frequently asked question that makes up 90% of the inquiries, and yet, in my opinion, they STILL suck.
3 Reasons Bots suck
They are impersonal…..because they are bots. As in robots.
They are your first impression for your potential customer - and while they may not make a BAD impression if they do indeed answer a question, there’s no way they are a better impression than a real answer from a real human would be. Put your notifications on and respond - at least during your business hours. You never get a second chance to make the first impression - why not make the better one? If you don’t have time to respond to a customer - someone who wants to pay you - what, uh….are you doing?
Bots used for automation suck because each platform has it’s own language, it’s own culture, it’s own etiquette - if you take your Facebook content and simply send it over to Twitter with the use of a bot it’s just lazy and it looks lazy to followers / potential customers. The Facebook link is in the tweet as well so your followers can see you just automated it. It says “Hey followers who are on twitter at the moment, my bot is alerting you I posted something over on Facebook.” Yuck. You can generally tell when something’s been automated between one platform to another. Once again I’d rather not show up at all if I’m going to look lazy when I do show up (or when my bot does). To be clear, scheduling is fine, automating is not. If you create a piece of content for Twitter and you schedule it to be posted there at a future time that’s fine as long as it was composed AS a tweet - for twitter. Remember this for later in this post…
I Pulled No Punches In Some Comments On Facebook…
You know I tell it like it is, and Social Media Examiner asked about this on Facebook to get some discussion going. I saw a kindred spirit named Lori Anne Brown make a comment and I chimed in with some support… hehe…
Lori Anne Brown Hate bots. I find automated responses very annoying.
Social Media Examiner Is there anything that could change your mind? Do you think they can get good enough to be helpful and less annoying for you? - Erik
Doug Cohen What Lori said. Automation sucks. I want to connect with my community - not automate them.
Social Media Examiner Doug Cohen Do you think a certain amount of automation could be good though, at least in giving the community what they want information-wise in a way that's quicker than a human can, or when a human is offline? - Erik
Doug Cohen Social Media Examiner POSSIBLY if your business model is LOW end / HIGH volume and very transactional in nature. But I still say your first impression to a potential customer is annoying if the first encounter is a pop up bot and as a business owner I would never want to build the type of business that throws tons of stuff at the wall because statistically some of it will stick. When someone tells me the bot strategy “works” I say no. No it doesn’t. I want to CONNECT people to my brand. Not sell at people from my brand. I want 10 customers that love my brand. Not 20 that see me as a commodity. That has to be the approach in everything I do on behalf of the brand to create the brand I really want and you’ve sabotaged that right at the most important step if the first impression is ROBOT and NOT HUMAN.
Another Lazy Marketer With A Dumb Bot Strategy
Let’s take another look at a bot strategy in action. Remember the twitter example I used earlier about scheduling tweets that were at least composed as tweets? Even this can be horribly executed with a bot. This involves an app that can actually be useful for some things but that many use as a sophisticated bot called IFTTT (If This, Then That). This guy whose name I’ve blocked out so as not to take direct public shots at him fashions himself a “content specialist”. Good grief - let’s take a look at how “special” his content is:
Yep - he tweets “Good Morning! What are you up to today?” every. single. day. Well actually “he” doesn’t. IFTTT does. Twitter even shows you that it’s IFTTT that’s doing it. And sure enough I scrolled back two months - 60 straight days this tweet went out and TWICE it got ONE like. No retweets, no replies. Why would anyone ever hire this “content specialist”??? That’s his content as a specialist? For crying out loud…. Listen I don’t post a ton for M10 Social - I’m busier posting for my clients and I’m not trying to be a “guru”, but when I do post I make it count for Pete’s sake. I’m deliberate about it. This is what I mean when I say lazy, or just automating mud at the wall with a mudslinging bot to see what sticks (2 out of 60 in this case if you consider one random like per month “sticking”).
Conclusion? DON’T USE BOTS. They suck. Feel free to argue with me below. My answer to whatever you say and whatever example you relate is going to be a personal response would have been better with VERY few exceptions that prove the rule.
M10 Social is owned by Doug Cohen in West Bloomfield, MI and provides social media training and digital marketing services from the Frameable Faces Photography studio Doug owns with his wife Ally. He can be reached there at tel:248-790-7317, by mobile at tel:248-346-4121 or via email at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.