Ryan Holmes in Fortune – Here come the tweeting robots

By Hootsuite | 3 years ago | 11 Comments

fortune logoA column by HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes was featured on the Fortune Magazine website yesterday.  Holmes weighs in on how automation is changing the face of social media.  You can check out the story, and find out whether a robot can tweet better than you can, here.

Holmes points out that social media is demanding increasing resources from companies today.  Dell, for example, tracks 25,000 posts a day about the brand.  To keep up with the workload, a growing number of companies are literally taking the social out of social media, i.e. automating functions that range from scheduling tweets and posts to actually generating content.

While this enables brands to deal with the growing customer load on social media, there are also major risks.  Real, human interaction is at the core of social media.  Replacing people with robots obviously compromises that.

Automated Assists

But, Holmes explains, there are many ways to automate without losing the human touch.  Auto-listening tools, which track mentions and keywords in social conversations, are already common on social media systems including HootSuite and represent huge time-savers.

Auto-scheduling and content optimizing features, which help assess when and what to post or tweet also promise to streamline social media campaigns.  HootSuite recently introduced AutoSchedule to its Hootlet browser extension, which automatically selects an optimum time for publishing on Facebook and Twitter in order to maximize reach and avoid swamping followers with too many messages at once.

Other tools actually help to guide content creation by matching prospective tweets and posts against what a company’s followers are talking about in real-time on social networks.  These features promise to play a big role in the emerging field of paid social advertising.  Automatically optimized messages can be easily converted into high-impact promoted stories and tweets that show up right in users’ streams.

Finally, there are automated tools that don’t just optimize social media content – They actually create it.  Examples include sophisticated Twitter bots that can engage in seemingly real conversations, as well as virtual agents that can respond to users’ comments in Facebook.  These tools can be helpful in communicating basic, FAQ-style information, but their use should be limited, Holmes warns: “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.”

Time Saving Tools

At the end of the day, the best solution to the automation dilemma is found in social media management systems (including HootSuite, of course) which integrate proven automated listening and scheduling with features that help real people connect better.  HootSuite’s streamlined dashboard, for instance, makes it easy for big teams to collaborate – leaving more time for the one-on-one, personal interactions that social media was made for.

For the full story, check out Holmes’ article on the Fortune website.

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Jose 5pts

It can't be 100% automated. Social media must stay at least 75% human. Scheduling some tweets and FB postings is one thing, but creating content in response tu customers is a big no for me. Of course my clients do not have to track 25,000 mentions to see where are they standing but if you are doing well, why to be so paranoic?

Priya 5pts

I too agree that heavily depending on social networking may not do that good. Automation is good only in certain circumstances.

Jackie 5pts

Dell tracks 25,000 posts a day about the brand because the brand sucks and their customer service is the worst I have ever encountered. So not everything in social media is social. If more companies like Dell provided just the basic needs, customers would not feel the need to vent on social platforms. The future of social is social customer service. Wake up Dell... stop pushing your brand pitch and respond to your customers.

Jacob 5pts

I'm curious what an online backlash would look like against a company who's customers felt that they were just being served a different version of automated phone lines. What will really be interesting is how companies weigh the possibility of this backlash versus the costs of maintaining more real people in their social media departments.

Jacob 5pts

I am curious as to what type of backlash a company might experience if its consumers felt they were simply getting another version of an automated phone line. Weighing the consequences of such a backlash versus the increased costs of real people managing social media accounts must be an interesting balancing act.

Jose 5pts

People hate automated systems. I agree with you. It would be a disaster to have all this automated. I also understand that I can be wrong, that maybe a good technology might put some interesting twist to social media. But if the human feel is lost, then what is the purpose??

Mark 5pts

I think taking out of the "social" in social media sort of backtracks the major strides that social media allowed us to communicate.

Automation can be viewed as contrived and fake and would definitely not fare well for the company caught doing it.

People have to ask themselves: Is it better to get an automated response from a company? Or none at all?

IOE 5pts

It's quite frightening really, that the future of social might not actually be social! I agree extra features about timing and content creation will help reach, but ultimately it needs a human touch somewhere. The humour and emotion we' are able to naturally put into writing cant be replicated....quite yet!

Paul 5pts

I think automated tools can certainly aid businesses and can be used to complement their real personnel. We have already developed such tools that are focusing on the Aviation sectors and the Hotel industry.

Happy to discuss in further detail with Ryan ;)

Joanie 5pts

Would you be willing to settle for his 'bot' replacement?

Joan Baker
Joan Baker 5pts

Would you settle for his robot replacement?