Twitter robots are not worth the risk

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I don’t like to tell people not to do anything on social media, as it is a great tool for experimenting and different methods suit different industries. However, I have had a bad experience with a tool which could have had a terrible impact, so I thought I would stop others making the same mistake.

What is a Twitter robot?

A Twitter robot can work in a number of different ways to increase your engagement levels or following on your channel, it does this by engaging with accounts based on keywords you type in. So for example if you are a travel company you might put in ‘Safari’, ‘Kenya safari’, ‘Cruise’, you can also put in hashtags of popular Twitter chats that your page would engage with naturally, such as #TravChats. The robot will then ‘like’ tweets which contain these keywords and follow accounts which use them or list them in their bio.

A good thing about this is the robot then unfollows these accounts after a few days, so you don’t end up following thousands of people. You can also ‘mute’ these accounts so that you don’t suddenly get loads of random content in your newsfeed.

The benefits

The benefit of using a Twitter robot is that supposedly engages with content your page would engage with anyway, taking out the manual need to go and do this yourself. When done well, this results in an increase in follower numbers, and an increase of engagement to your channel.

The risks

  1. Unfortunately, there are a LOT of spam, pornographic and politically charged accounts on Twitter, and by allowing a robot to have access to your channel you risk engaging with these accounts.
  2. There is a lot of extreme adult content on Twitter, more than I expected, and lots of the accounts use general terms on their posts so that they reach more people, they often use popular hashtags and sometimes general words like ‘travel’.
  3. During the Trump and Hilary debacle, there was a lot of political content on Twitter, even people who aren’t usually so controversial were sharing their opinions, that means someone who tweets about their plans for a luxury safari in Botswana, might also be tweeting some questionable content about Donald Trump, and your brand page is now following and engaging with them.
  4. Terms like ‘African Safari’ might seem safe, but there are many accounts endorsing hunting safaris, and poaching or preaching about animal welfare in an extreme way, which you could accidently engage with, sadly that goes for so many generic terms not just relevant to travel.
  5. The robot doesn’t pick up what is shown in images, there might be a harmless tweet saying something like ‘So many travel plans for 2017, safari, beach and my honeymoon’. But the image could be an adult model on holiday, or the profile photo and banner could be something very controversial.

Sadly, although it seems a good concept, there are far too many risks associated, and allowing a robot to have free-reign of your brand page is not a good idea. It would only take someone to look at your brands ‘liked tweets’ to see a stream of ‘Make America Great Again’ could ruin your reputation.

My experience

Sorry to name and shame, but I did give this company many opportunities to assist me and help sort out the issues we had, and they either ignored me or said ‘don’t use broad keywords’.

I used Narrow.io which is very cheap ($19 USD per month for one account). I set this up with the advice from their team with lots of keywords, and didn’t see many issues to start with, if the account did engage with anything inappropriate I would just ‘unlike’ or ‘unfollow’.

I went on annual leave for a couple of weeks and came back to some questions from my manager about why our account had engaged with some pornographic accounts, and we could see why this had happened with some of the words they were using in their posts. I immediately disconnected Narrow and asked for assistance. The customer service people were very unhelpful and just said to less vague search terms or target specific websites, which we tried – to no avail.

In the end, I cancelled it and connected it to my personal account for a test– as it doesn’t matter as much – I did find that I grew followers – around 150 in two weeks. Although I have seen some embarrassing profiles come up within that time.

Conclusion
Use on a personal profile which you can use to share the brand content, therefore you can still extend the reach of the brand content and introduce it to a bigger audience without the risk.

Don’t use it on a brand page if your business reputation could be damaged by pornographic, political or other questionable content.

6 things social media marketers know

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No-one knows what you do

  1. Most people have no idea what you do. ‘Oh so you do the Tweets and shit?’ is something I get almost every time I tell someone my job. Yeah, I do write Tweets and shit, but that is the most basic part of my job. A lot of my time is spent on creating a strategy, building relationships with influencers, curating and creating content in the form of video, imagery and blogs, graphic design and customer service. I also run adverts, reports and plan and execute creative campaigns and manage budgets. In my industry (travel) a lot of time is required training teams around the business, a strong link between product and marketing, and sales and marketing is key to being successful on social media.

You speak to customers every day

  1.  Service is key. As social media marketer, you spend a lot of your time communicating directly with clients, something very few others in the marketing team do. You regularly engage with clients who LOVE your brand, but you are also the person who has to diffuse situations where clients are very unhappy. A great thing about this is that you have access to insights about your customer that others don’t, you can see what they like to engage with and create content in line with this.

    People ask questions on social media because they want an immediate or at least quick response. You have to be able to respond as soon as possible, so you have to use your initiative. If the customer asks you something really in-depth about your product or service and you don’t know the answer, you need to be resourceful and ask the right people.

You overlap with PR

  1. Although social media is predominantly a (very powerful) marketing tool, it overlaps with PR a lot. A big part of being successful is building relationships with people. Your content will be reaching both potential customers and the press, and by sharing your company blogs and expertise on social media, you are opening up organic promotional opportunities. You must be able to network and build relationships with people within the industry. It is you who sits behind the company logo on Twitter, so it is you who needs to build the rapport.

    You need to keep up to date with big news and trends, both so that you can jump on them for brand exposure, but also so that you can avoid talking about topics which could cause negative engagement or show brand insensitivity. In travel, we need to be very aware of natural disasters etc. in destinations so that we can avoid promoting them when needed.

You understand your brand

  1. You must understand your brand. The intricacies of a brand can be one of the hardest things to get your head around in a new company. I find that treating the ‘brand’ as if it were an individual is a good place to start. When planning a campaign or advert ask yourself ‘would my key demographic understand this and want to be associated with it?’In social media, you will be finding out what the business focuses are and planning monthly or quarterly themes of content in line with this.

    On social media, images and video are the most powerful things, you need to make sure all your imagery and video content is ‘on brand’ and flows with your company’s website, emails, brochures, magazines etc. In many cases, you are the person telling people what imagery to create, because you are the person who is using it the most. If it stands out and is too different, it is not doing its job.

This is anything but a linear role

  1. You must be versatile. Many marketing departments outsource their campaigns to creative agencies. In social media, you have the power to create smaller scale (and large) campaigns in-house. This can be by gathering user-generated content to show how much your customers love your product/service or running a competition to gain sign-ups to your newsletter/magazine. The sphere of social media really is as big or as small as you want to make it.

Your audience doesn’t change

  1. The biggest myth is that your market is somehow different on social media: it isn’t. Your demographic and potential customer base doesn’t change, the things that do are the way you engage with them, and the way they use the platform. A customer reading a magazine will give your article more time because they have chosen to sit and read it, your beautiful Instagram post has popped up while they’re quickly scrolling on the train needs to grab their attention a lot faster.

Use trending hashtags to promote your brand on Twitter

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What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is essentially a category. Any (public) post with a specific hashtag included will appear in a feed with other posts. Anyone who clicks on that hashtag can see all the posts listed. The most popular posts will usually show at the top, with ‘live’ posts showing below or in a separate feed.

What is a trend?
A trend is a topic or hashtag that lots of people are sharing content about. On Twitter, a hashtag must be shared 1200 times in a short period of time to ‘trend’. A list of current trends can be seen on the left of your screen if you are on a desktop, or by clicking the search bar on mobile.

Why

Jumping on trending hashtags is a great way for new people to find your brand. Here are five reasons why:

  1. It is a free way of showing your content to accounts who don’t follow you
  2. It adds variety to your timeline
  3. It shows you are reactive and current
  4. You can use it as an excuse to re-share old content
  5. You can use it to drive new content and show your expertise

Before you start

It is, however, important to be discerning when choosing which hashtags you use. Obviously, this depends on your industry, but more importantly your brand. Sadly, the power of social media isn’t always recognised and some brands see it as an easy environment to take shortcuts. Actually, in many cases, social media is the first place people check to see your brands credibility, if you have a strong following and are sharing high-quality consistent content you’re ok, if you are struggling for engagement and your latest tweet is a little cringe-worthy, many potential clients or customers will turn away.

Therefore, it is important not to jump on a hashtag jut to get likes. Before you use the hashtag, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Imagine your core customer, would they use this hashtag?
  2. Would the topic you are about to tweet be an acceptable blog post?
  3. Are your demographic using this hashtag?

Good examples:

Once you have answered these questions it’s important to get the angle right. A good example is #InternationalTeaDay which falls on the 15th December every year. (Get it in your diary for next year)! I manage social media for a tailor-made travel company so I shared content about a unique tea ceremony you can experience in Kyoto, Japan.

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Conde Nast Traveler either had this article pre-planned for the occasion or they re-used some relevant content on their website:

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If you are a recruitment company, you could take a photograph of a cup of tea next to an iPad with your job listing web page open, with the text  ‘Happy #InternationalTeaDay, take fifteen minutes out of your day to apply for your dream job.’ then link to your website.

If your brand is actually a person, you could try a point of view photograph of a desk with a cup of tea on it saying ‘All good plans start with a cup of tea… #InternationalTeaDay’.

Rouge x

How to get your brand on social media in 5 simple steps

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Joining social media in 2016 might sound daunting, there are many companies on there doing incredibly well, maybe even some of your direct competitors. But it really isn’t too late to take the leap. Even for a well-established business, it might be scary to see your successful brand with zero followers, but we all need to start somewhere.

The great news is that the social media landscape is enormous and it changes all the time. A company who joined Twitter six years ago might feel complacent with their following, but unless they are using it effectively they might only be reaching a tiny percent of those.

The truth is that your company should definitely be on social media, big, small or local; you need a presence. The key is knowing which platforms you need to use and how you need to use them.

Here is my five step guide to getting your brand on social media in 2016 –

1: Purpose
Forget the thousands of followers, and the logistics for a moment and take a step back. Why do you want to put your brand on social media? “Because everyone is on it” is not the right reason.

You need to determine what benefits your business and your customers can get from a social media presence.

A benefit to the business could be the ability for customers to endorse your company publicly, there is nothing more powerful than your customers saying how great your company is on their own channels. Think TripAdvisor, Glass Door and Trust Pilot to name a few; positive reviews are like gold for business.

A benefit for the customer could be the ability to get in touch with you quickly and get a fast response.

Other purposes could be

  • Humanising your brand
  • Brand loyalty (research shows that people who engage with brands on social media are 50% more loyal to them)
  • Reach new audiences
  • Increase conversions
  • Gain insights on your customers

2: Platform
So, now that you have decided what you want to gain from social media, it’s time to think about how. There are many platforms out there, and it’s really important you choose the ones that are right for your business.

When you are just starting out, the key is not to spread yourself too thin, like anything the first few stages will be a learning curve, so it’s better to do some experiments on one or two platforms before you take the leap onto more. You may also find that one platform is sufficient long-term due to the nature of your business.

Facebook is a pretty good place to start, there are many benefits to Facebook which I will cover in another post. But the main one is that Facebook has the most insights on its users, it knows where they live, how old they are, how much they’re earning, whether they are in a relationship and so on. It also knows what kind of content they like to engage with. Therefore you can create targeted adverts or boost your posts (more on this later) to a really detailed audience, ensuring you aren’t wasting time or money on the wrong people.

Tip – for example if you were a honeymoons website knowing someone recently put their status to engaged is a great opportunity for you. Likewise if you are a dating website and they change their status to single.

3: Strategy
The next stage is putting together a plan. I tend to do this as a PowerPoint presentation, as then it is ready to share with other people and it’s visually easy to refer to.

  • Start by looking back at your core purposes from step one and keep them at the front of your strategy document.
  • Now think about who your market is, you probably already know this, but write down who your core demographic is, including age, gender, and location. Also, think about what other brands they might be engaging with on social media, so for tailor-made travel, my customers are probably engaging with magazines like Conde Nast Traveller and Wanderlust.
  • Set yourself some realistic targets. Followers, leads, conversions, then set yourself a deadline and look back to see if you were successful.
  • Create a content plan:
  1. Choose your core themes of focus. For example if you are a travel company then talk about travel, but you may also want to talk about photography, wildlife, art and food. If you are a local business, you may choose to share content about the local community.
  2. If you don’t already, you may need to start posting blogs or news articles on your website about these core topics which you can share. People will then click on your website and learn about your brand. If the articles aren’t too self-promotional, they may be picked up and shared on social media by other companies and users.
  3. Another way of creating content could be by sharing graphics or photographs, for example on Twitter #MondayMotivation, #TravelTuesday, #WanderlustWednesday, #ThursdayThoughts and #FriFots trend every week, you can make quotes or share images in line with this.
  4. You can also share blogs from other people and companies, if you tag them in your post, you can build a relationship with them over time, and they might share your content, too!
  • Decide how you are going to talk about your products or services. Unless it’s a paid social media post being too sales orientated isn’t going to get people to engage with your brand. People use these channels to talk to their friends and share things they care about, if your brand is going to appear amongst this, it needs to be a welcome message.

4: Think long-term
Social media is not something that can be dropped and picked back up when you have time. To create successful social media channels, you need to commit to maintaining them for the foreseeable future. The one thing worse than not being on social media at all, is having a dead profile.

Once you have a social media presence, customers will see this as a way of getting in touch with you. They may come through these platforms for direct sales, or they may use it to ask about stock availability, or additional information on your product or service. The fact they have come via social means they want a quick or immediate response, ignoring them is like putting your phone number on a billboard and then not answering the phone.

5: Never stop evaluating and learning
Digital marketing and advertising offer an endless amount of insights on how your content is performing, and social media is no different. It’s important to look at how many people your content is reaching, and whether they are engaging with it.

Further down the line you can invest in a social media management tool, but for now, you can use the free insights each platform offers you. You can also post the same content more than once with a different message or image, or at a different time of day and see which your audience responded to the best.

Over to you

Now you understand the benefits of social, you’ve chosen which platform to use, you have a detailed strategy on what you want to achieve, and you’re in it for the long-haul; you’re pretty much good to go. The one thing a lot of people forget is that social media is constantly changing and evolving, and as a social media marketer you will need to do the same.

Did you find this useful? I would love to know! Leave a comment below.