Is It Live or Is It Twittorex?

I’ve been on a tangent with colleagues and clients regarding the automation of social networking and all the buzz of “authenticity.” So much so that I’ve threatened for months to write a blog post about it. Well, after hearing Scott Stratten speak this week at the Social Media Club of St. Louis, a stop on his current Unbook tour, he reminded me that you write a blog post when you have something to say, and I do, so here it is…

I’ve spent quite a bit of time on Twitter. It was slow going at first, having reluctantly set my account up in April 2009, I think. Then earlier this year I decided to give it a whirl and see what I was missing. Off I go to Twitterville. I made new connections, engaged in conversation with those I wanted to get to know. I found numerous VA colleagues and other business contacts to follow and interact with. On Fridays, I liked to share my music playlist of the morning as the week wound down. I shared good resources and quotes, retweeted good stuff from others, participated in #FollowFriday, and so forth. Life in Twitterville was happening as I heard it would. And then it happened… tweet automation. Where did everyone go? I suddenly felt like I was talking to myself.

(For those of you who engage regularly in social networking, this post is not for you, so forgive me as a generalize. We’ll Tweet soon.)

Over the past several months I’ve seen the same thing happen on Facebook as it has on Twitter. There are so many people scheduling tweets and posts that they never interact, or engage as Scott calls it, with their audience. I begin to hear more talk of clients outsourcing their social media management to their virtual assistant. It didn’t take long at all to take the whole point of being social out of the picture. This led me to the question, “Would you send your computer to a face-to-face networking event to represent you?” Umm… no! At least I hope you wouldn’t. Well… when you have someone else doing your social networking is that not what you are doing? When you automate your Twitter and Facebook posts, is that not what you are doing? You’re not present. It’s like setting your computer on the main table at the local Chamber breakfast meeting and then leaving. You don’t talk back and you don’t engage with me in any way. But, every 10 – 50 minutes your computer pops up another message of wisdom you’d like to share with me. Why bother? You’re not creating relationships.

That brings us to my question of authenticity, which is “Would you send your twin sister on a job interview for you?” Or, “Would you send your virtual assistant to deliver a keynote speech for you in front of your most important audience?” Not likely. Why? Because people come to hear YOU. So why look at it any differently in the online world just because you have a keyboard and a monitor to mask your identity. Your twin brother may look like you, dress like you, and act like you, but subtle differences will be noted. I find myself not even following some people anymore because the chances of engaging in a conversation with them are slim and none. And, on the odd chance that they do respond, I find myself questioning if it’s really them behind the keystrokes.

I understand there are ghostwriters out there in the world who write others’ words all the time, myself included. And, I know I’m going against the grain of my virtual assistant colleagues who offer social media management services, such as managing a client’s tweets and responding on Facebook. But c’mon folks, it’s called “social” networking for a reason. Your followers, fans, friends, and connections want to connect and build a relationship with YOU. How can that be accomplished if you’re not there? Where is the authenticity in that? Where is the YOU in having someone else act as you?

I can get totally on board with outsourcing the setup of accounts, managing of friend requests or followers, and responding to event or group invites, because that doesn’t involve you as the individual that your following is wanting to create a relationship with. I also understand that in the corporate setting, as I do for one of my clients, you can have designated people act as the company representative. Corporate is different in that the following is looking to engage with the company, not the individual, about the company’s product or service. But when it comes to creating the valuable relationships you set out to make when you decided to get involved in social networking, you are the best person for the job.

So, who’s doing the talking for you? If it’s really YOU, Follow me and let me know, I’ll be sure to respond–personally. And if Twitter isn’t your thing, you can find me here on Facebook.

8 Responses to Is It Live or Is It Twittorex?
  1. Frank Dickinson
    November 19, 2010 | 2:34 pm

    Holy moly batman, Scott got you riled up too eh!?

    COMPLETELY agree with you Kelly. I find it hard to believe that people are so blinded to the fact that tools like Twitter and Facebook are ALL about the relationship – the connection.

    I cannot connect to an automated tweet. I cannot have a relationship with a unpersonalized (is that a word?)Facebook post.

    And quire frankly, the people who use them as their social media strategy are, well, idiots.

    This needed to be said – and you said it well!

  2. Denise Aday
    November 19, 2010 | 3:30 pm

    So glad you wrote this! I agree wholeheartedly.

    Speaking of authenticity, I met one of the so-called Rock Stars of Social Media at SXSW year before last and we talked about this very thing. He was using a virtual assistant to come up with interesting things to schedule/tweet on his behalf. People would @ reply and RT him – or what they thought was him – like crazy. I made the comment that I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Without hesitation he replied that he didn’t care. WOW, okay then.

    And automation?? A bit of integration across accounts is okay — a blog post, song share, etc here and there. But as you said, you have to show up to actually develop relationships. I don’t want to watch a “ticker” of your activities. Engage me or go away!

  3. Crystal Coleman
    November 19, 2010 | 4:46 pm

    I agree that it’s easy to lose site of the whole point of social media when you start automating – being social!

    However, I am an advocate of using automation as part of the total strategy so that when you do take your time to update/tweet/engage you’re not worried about tweeting your last post, or an upcoming workshop.. etc. You can just take part.

    For my clients, I work with them to schedule the different types of updates that they want at specific times of the day and week so that they are free to just engage. I’ve found that their Twitter usage has increased and is more effective because it’s not as overwhelming as trying to remember to “do it all” as they were before they started working with me to help manage the overall strategy.

    Completely outsourcing you social media tasks or 100% automating your activities though? No. Like others have said, you miss the entire point of SOCIAL media id you’re not personally engaging.

  4. JudyAnn Lorenz
    November 19, 2010 | 5:03 pm

    I ‘implement’ social media tasks for myself and two clients.

    Yes, sometimes folks are going to get that retweet, reply and “thank you for the RT” for them from me.

    I schedule tweets because it works for them and me. Their market seems to respond to specific times of the day, not all day long. I can schedule the early morning market between 6 and 7 am and go have breakfast away from the computer and get ready for another gig.

    It’s as social as necessary. Twitter updates are indexed. Mine show up on Google alerts I’ve set up for keywords. Customers will find my clients through searches more than the Twitter feed. There can be no doubt that I am the one in this deal that has the most ‘fun’ because I am the one on Twitter. Fun isn’t the entire goal of the business side of social media. Because of the business side, I’ve taken most of my posting activity away from my profile and put it on my business page. If someone who was kind and generous enough to be a fan missed the post in the feed, at least it went out to the world there. The fun part is that I really enjoy keeping up with all of this and finding ways to make it benefit my clients and ‘friends’. Some days, I have ‘fun’ on my profile page with family and friends about stuff we care for. The bottom line of much of my Twitter activity and fan page activity is that Google (and other search engines)and Twitter or Facebook search are the audience. I don’t assertively follow VAs on Twitter because they are the choir; I’m looking to promote for and to clients. I do have auto-follow and auto-unfollow set up because after 1,000 I just can’t keep up.

    I’m seeing Twitter as a fine tuned ‘shopping’ source for goods and services.

    And a place where I can leave a comment (reply) or retweet. People are generous when they retweet and I appreciate them. I have followers/friends in other countries with whom I have polite conversation both in Twitter and FB.

    I believe in my clients’ business models and fields. When I write updates I write them from the heart. The activity I give them and the updates I make acknowledging them has given me a hodge podge of topics…not only virtual assistant information. This attracts more followers and we all reach more people and learn from more people. For me it is about being business and being personable, but maybe not personal.

  5. Kelly Poelker
    November 19, 2010 | 6:40 pm

    Hi did indeed, Frank. You know how long I was holding on to this post in my head. Felt good to get it out.

    I can certainly see the benefits of automation, to a degree. The point that was brought out in Scott’s presentation, which I totally agree with, was the expectation of engagement when people see you being active with posts. When I respond to someone who has put out a good morning to the world with a question of how I’m going to be productive that day, my expectation would be to see a reply of some sort from that person rather quickly. Understanding, of course, that sometimes we sit down with the best of intentions to be social and then the phone rings or something else takes you away. That’s bound to happen.

    The biggest issue I have is completely removing yourself from the process. I don’t know how some people with a huge following can possibly keep up with all the activity. I guess they have to determine for their own business and goals how to handle it.

    If you’re not going to engage and build those relationships then give yourself permission to not use social media as a tool at all.

    Great comments everyone. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Kelly Poelker
    November 19, 2010 | 6:50 pm

    And Denise… it amazes me every time I run across one of those Rock Stars you refer to that doesn’t walk the talk.

    Just recently I was trying to get in touch with one by going through Twitter first, because I saw posts and @replies going through so they were obviously online and actively engaging with others. I sent a DM and then proceeded to go to their website for a contact email or phone number. Couldn’t find anything except a contact form. Yes, believe it or not, it was a speaker with no phone number on their website. After shaking my head on that one I sent a DM on Twitter. Three days later I heard back and was instructed to fill out the booking form on the website.

    Well I didn’t want to book the person for an event. I was trying to get them as a guest on a national cable TV show (in front of their target market, I might add). So then I was given the email of an assistant, who I proceeded to contact. I think it’s been three weeks now and I haven’t heard a thing from either of them.

    Too bad for them because I won’t be reaching out to them again, at all.

  7. Sharon Savage
    January 3, 2011 | 7:26 pm

    As a Virtual Assistant, I do schedule tweets for myself and clients, but we do go into our own accounts and personally interact with our fans or followers as well. For myself, I like to schedule some great quotes or tips that I come across, but then I also interact personally by either making new posts or answering others posts. I don’t use a reply tweet when someone new is following me, but instead I reach out to them personally and thank them for following me. Automated posts are great, but only to a point. You cannot forget the personal contact and you must be social. Isn’t that why it’s called Social Networking? :)

  8. Tai Goodwin
    January 6, 2011 | 2:56 pm

    Could there be a difference between social networking and social media marketing? We use the terms interchangeably but there’s a difference. In networking with others on-line I expect to engage in conversation and build relationships. When it comes to using social media platforms to educate and promote (marketing) automation is helpful if not vital to efficiency. For example let’s look at a personal response and an automated promotion:

    Personal response: @You – I loved your post- gave me lots of ideas – left a comment on ur blog

    Automated Promotion: New blog post: 10 Ways to Automate Social Media

    Turn over the promotion an education to your VA – and spend time cultivating relationships with personal responses.

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL

Switch to our mobile site