Twitter robots are not worth the risk

6-things

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.

Use trending hashtags to promote your brand on Twitter

3

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.

capture

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

Capture2.JPG

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