Social media ‘practitioners’: Are they becoming more like tweetbots?

Interesting, this feature on tweetbots. Apparently, social media has become just another lynching field with both human and machine competing (and often colluding) with one another to achieve one end or another. Closer to home, I got into a short discussion on Twitter on how some key social media metrics like “trending topics” have become meaningless as a result of the way people game these stats.

Big corporate is not immune to the onslaught of a multitude of disembodied 2-cent opinions. What they have to their credit is the money to spend on technological countermeasures…

These companies are turning to automated tools that capture and analyze conversations on social networks, prioritizing which messages really merit attention. They’re using auto-schedule and content optimizing apps to assess when and what to post, with an eye toward reaching the most followers while piggybacking on trending topics. In some cases, they’re even deploying virtual agents and sophisticated bots in Facebook (FB) and Twitter streams to automatically respond to consumers’ queries and comments.

Then again, from what I’ve observed so far, some so-called “social media practitioners” (some of whom presume to refer to themselves as “social media consultants”) are actually starting to behave the same way — like robot drones. Indeed, technology really is blurring the line between human and robot.

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Like we forget what the whole point used to be

Social media’s cachet is contingent on real human interaction. In the beginning, at least, Facebook and Twitter enabled consumers and community managers to knife through contact forms and automated help lines, connecting with real people in a public forum and often getting near-immediate results. When authenticity leaves the room, Owyang warns in a recent Mashable article, these channels may become “yet another over-branded corporate medium,” losing their primary appeal.

The writers of Terminator got it all wrong. The future battle for planetary supremacy will not be fought between humans and electrically-actuated metal beings but by digital entities whose individual humanity or non-humanity may not even be known — or may not even matter. The prize will be the reputation of brands rather than any honourable “cause” of consequence.

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