Rise of the Twitter bots

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I was working on a post tying together Twitter bots, Mitt Romney’s recent surge in Twitter followers and Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics when I came across Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes’ smart article on the rise of “tweeting robots.” I may, yet, go back and finish my post but because I need to head out the door for work, I think I’ll just excerpt Holmes instead:

Then there’s the sci-fi stuff: the latest generation of social bots and virtual agents showing up on Twitter and Facebook.  These tools don’t just optimize content; they make it.   In their simplest incarnation, Twitter bots are computerized scripts that automatically follow users who use certain keywords.  The newest social bots, however, take this to another level —  participating in convincing conversations and often drawing legions of followers.  Google (GOOG) product manager Greg Marra earned notoriety building @trackgirl, who infiltrated the ranks of hardcore runners, even attracting sympathy messages when she “hurt her ankle.”

But how far is too far?

… social media’s real value — what distinguished it from the start from traditional media —  lies in creating deeper, personal connections with followers.  And here automation of content risks backfiring.  When consumers used to turning to social media for real, human intervention and connection end up running up against yet another automated message, the results may not be pretty.

Image by Flickr user Solo.

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