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March 11, 2008

Automated Twittering: You know, like spam!

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Susan’s out sick today which means I get to be a little ranty (even more ranty?) and she can’t stop me. Muahaha! That’ll teach her to take time off.

I am a pretty active Twitter user and chances are many of you are as well. And do you know what the most annoying part of Twitter is? No, it’s not certain people spamming the hell out of my front page with her their UFC rants. It’s the tweets that aren’t really tweets, but just an automated link pointing to a blog post someone just wrote. And they’re disgustingly obvious to pick out because they all look exactly the same – name of the blog, title of the post, self-serving link.

Stab me in the eye with your creativity.

I was out sick yesterday, and while I was sniffling and trying to stay very, very still, Loren Baker was busy telling readers to set up a TwitterFeed to help them leverage Twitter as a traffic generator. Okay, Loren, I love you, you know this, but if you encourage people to turn my Twitter feed into their link cesspool I am going to kick you square in the shin the next time I see you. For serious.

It’s a sad fact that automated Twittering is on the rise. Marketers just can’t help themselves. And I can’t even pick on Loren because, as Tamar explains on Search Engine Roundtable, there are plenty of other users participating in automated Twittering. Still, I’d ask you to think twice before devaluing your Twitter account and turning it into an infomercial. This is actually why normal people don’t like us — because we can’t just leave things alone and use them the way they were intended. We have to tinker until we break something and drive everyone else away.

The worst are those people who automate their feed to post everything they write or even think about writing, and then have the nerve to also try and use the same account for personal use. Don’t do it. If you’re one of those people you should just shoot yourself in the face right now. We all hate you. I wonder what the divorce rate is among SEOs? [Ranty with an extra side of ranty? Delicious! --Virginia]

Your Twitter feed is opt-in by nature. People make a choice to follow you and to see your updates. But a lot of times users don’t realize what they’re getting into. Not everyone can tell the difference between a personal account and corporate account because, let’s be honest here, we have a tendency to name ourselves some pretty stupid stuff. You’re doing your brand a great disservice when someone follows you thinking you’re a person and then you turn out to be a corporation who can’t even take the time to personalize their link shilling. You also don’t want to brand yourself as an annoyance by taking up someone’s entire Twitter feed. Ask Susan how well being an annoyance has worked for her.

I have no problem with people using Twitter to push content that has worth. We’re marketers. It makes sense that we would use a social network to promote ourselves when we have an article that we think deserves attention or something else we’re particularly proud of. It’s really the automation that bothers me and the arrogance some people have that makes them think stuffing everything they post directly into my face is okay. It’s not. This is not how you make or keep friends. It’s how you throw mud all over your brand.

It’s also disheartening to think that some marketers don’t have enough respect for their followers to personalize the message. I don’t need to read everything you wrote via Twitter. Spam your friends sparingly; otherwise you may end up with no friends at all. Again, like Susan.

I wonder what the clickthrough rate is on these automated Twitter feeds anyway? At some point you have to think that shooting someone with that much noise will eventually make them want to smash the radio. The radio being your Twitter account. And often your brand.

Sure, you can go the route of Search Engine Journal and others and decide to use Twitter as "just another feed" to push your content, but realize the dangers associated with that before you start. It’s like using Facebook and just posting your blog URL as your status message or dropping blog links on your friends’ walls all day. Sure, the technology allows you to do it and you may get some initial benefit, but eventually someone is going to drop by and inform you that your marketer stripe is showing.

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7 responses to “Automated Twittering: You know, like spam!”

  1. Michael VanDeMar writes:

    Sphunn because you were just so damn “For serious” about it. :)

    Well, that plus I happen to agree. I’m pretty sure that if people wanted whoever’s blog on their cell phone or Blackberry (considering how many people utilize Twitter that way) they would more than capable of actually subscribing to that particular feed. I mean, sure, if you post something and you want to let people know about it, then go ahead and tweet the damn thing… but if you’re posting so much that giving a quick shout out by hand is going to be a strain on you then you should just let it be.

  2. Michael D writes:

    If I subscribe to a twitter feed like SEL, I expect automated URLs. I don’t expect them from personal accounts though. That can get annoying.

  3. SEO Honolulu writes:

    I agree with this sentiment. What compounds this as even more annoying is when people just go out on massive “following you” sprees hoping you’ll follow them back. I appreciate that we have the same interests and all, but I like to actually know who ya are first…

    what?! no dinner or beer?! bah…

  4. andymurd writes:

    I hold my hand up as guilty of using TwitterFeed to notify my followers of blog updates, but in my defence I’m not a marketer, I’m a techie and I only update my blog about twice a week. 90% of my tweets are personally crafted, and (I hope) interesting and relevant to my followers.
    There does seem to be a backlash against this sort of automation so I’ll monitor reactions closely.

  5. John Carcutt writes:

    I set up an experiment using TwitterFeed. It automatically posts a tweet when ever someone on a list of 30 SEO blogs I like posts. I would not consider this spam, more like a notification service. I don’t even recommend subscribing to the twitter user I set up for this due to the volume of tweets you would get. I personally just bookmarked the page and review it when I have the time to read something. (yes, you are on the list Lisa and no I am not doing a link drop)

    Twitter is no longer “only” a personal communications tool. Like everything else that works online business and marketers will find ways to use it as well. That said, I agree completely that automated posting on personal twitter accounts is in bad form. If you are going to use twitter to seed content on a regular basis, don’t do it on your personal account. If people want to know when you are posting, they will subscribe to your other account too.

  6. Internet Marketing Joy writes:

    I think I’m guilty of this one somehow..but guilty in a sense that I didn’t not think of this as spamming or something..^^..anyways I think I have to change my approach on Twittering..^^

  7. g1smd writes:

    Why would you even bother to subscribe to a twitterfeed of blog URLs when the blog already has a working RSS feed anyway?

    Endless repurposing and duplication of content. What is the point?



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