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Mannequin Networking – Why Twitter Automation Is Bad

The best way I can explain Twitter to new folks is to say it’s like going to a networking event, but it runs 24/7 and you don’t have to leave home. It’s a great way to get to know new colleagues, clients and friends. Recently I’ve been having a lot of “debates” with other Twitter folk about automation. There are a bunch of different automation options using 3rd party sites, this post will focus on one strategy: sending absent tweets (tweeting something when you’re not actually around.) I’ve heard many reasons why people say you should do this:

1. It allows you to reach people in other time zones

2. It allows you to make Twitter scalable

3. You get to build relationships when you’re not around!

*Sorry, give me a minute*

Ok, I’m back, I had to go throw-up in a garbage can. Automating tweets means you want people to listen to you, but you’re not listening to them.

There is no such thing as automated engagement.

There is no such thing as programmed authenticity.

Absent tweeting is dictation, not engagement. Lecturing, not listening.

Automating tweets is like sending a mannequin to a networking event. Stick a post-it note on it, and roll it in, to multiple events around the world! Think of all the Chamber of Commerce mixers you could cover! Different time zones! Let the relationships winfall begin!!! Boooyaa!!!

Obviously you realize why that’s not a good idea. The initial tweet doesn’t create the relationship, it’s the conversation after. That’s the best part! I’m not saying don’t send out “marketing” tweets, or pitch a product. I do it. But when I do, why in the name of Sly and the Family Stone would I not want to be around for questions or comments immediately after? Tweets have such a short shelf-life, it’s the conversation immediately following the tweet that’s so crucial, and if it’s a marketing tweet, may help close the sale.

It’s a different story if your account is a feed of events/news and that’s what people follow for. The problem is when people “think” it’s you tweeting to them, but you’re not even there. Once they find that out, it could hurt your relationship and your brand. That tweet tells people “I want the benefit of a relationship, but don’t want to put the time in to nurture it.”

I heard Guy Kawasaki talking about this at a recent event. He said to ignore the “Twitter Nazi’s” that tell you what to do, and you should automate a bunch of tweets. Besides the fact I have a huge issue with people using the term “Nazi”, the biggest problem is this: people at that event looked up to Guy for guidance and thought “this is how you become successful at Twitter!” and I actually read some tweets after saying they were looking forward to automating Twitter! Guy can say and do whatever he wants. What I find wrong is for people just starting out, this won’t work. You can’t replicate someone who has hundreds of thousands of followers and a celebrity name to your Twitter account for your home biz. You actually have the advantage of authenticity and one-to-one on Twitter. Why try to be a WalMart when you’re a small biz? You have the competitive advantage of being you. Automation hurts authenticty.

Relationships take time. If you try to shortcut social media, you’re shortcutting relationship building.

Agree? Disagree? Comment below!

PS – Finalizing the UnBook Tour in the fall. Ideas for places to stop, organizations/conference I should speak at? Lemme know in the comments or contact me! Speaker Demo video is here