The Flawed Thinking Behind The Anti-Automation Stance

It's not automated tweets that should be the concern

by Jason Falls |

Ricky Lee Potts and I had a spirited discussion on Twitter Friday. He was apparently catching a replay of a webinar Erik Deckers and I had done to promote No Bullshit Social Media and was voicing his disagreement with a few points. Honestly, I love folks like Ricky because if you’re not vetting the information you’re receiving, not filtering it to ensure it works for you and your audience, you may as well follow the other lemmings off the cliff.

One of Ricky’s main points of contention was offered up in this tweet:

Rickly Lee Potts complaint

On the surface, and without considered thought, yes, automating one’s tweets might seem to be non-human. By technical definition, I’ve contradicted myself. But there’s a finer point here that the purists miss:

While I automate the sharing mechanism to bring good content to my audience, what is not automated is the discovery and review of that content.

Every single time I’ve shared content online since I’ve shared content online has been done after I’ve personally reviewed and determined that content is worth presenting to my audience. No one vets the information for me. I don’t automatically post anyone’s blog RSS feed or other content without first reviewing it with my own eyes and on my own time. If it is shared, you can rest assured no amount of laziness occurred while doing so.

The only offense I’ve committed is saving my audience from the annoyance of me vomiting 10-15 links in a short time span each morning (when I’m reviewing said content). I save them this pain by cuing up my shares to spread out throughout the day. Ricky pointed out that if he responded to one of my automatically posted articles, as a user, he expects an immediate response. I certainly monitor my stream for questions and comments, but it is flawed thinking to expect anyone to offer an immediate response on Twitter. Some people have meetings, lives, bathroom breaks, lunch, phone calls, etc., and thus, Twitter isn’t a 24-7 activity. If you, or even your company, can keep up that pace, good for you. But I’m betting there’s probably a time of day I could reach out to Ricky and get crickets for a while.

The entire point of the fun stories Erik and I presented in the early chapters of No Bullshit Social Media was to prove these very points. That the “rules” are only the rules if you test them and vet them for effectiveness with your audience. That what the purists (in this example, Ricky) might claim to be the “right way” isn’t always the right way, or sometimes even feasible. That you are better off knowing your audience, product, environment and such and make decisions that are best for them, not what some blogger person or influencer or conference speaker thinks is good.

It’s the same mentality DJ Waldow and I have taken with our new book The Rebel’s Guide To Email Marketing — Best practices are only applicable if you test and discover that they are best practices for you.

Yes, I automate about half of my Tweets — sometimes less, sometimes more. Yes, Scott Stratten and others have called me disingenuous and non-human and other things for doing so. And I’m fine with the criticism. I am because I know two things for certain:

  • I still vet the content personally and in a non-automated way
  • The content I share is useful and interesting to most of my audience

How can that be bad?

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).