Social media is becoming a jungle of automated response. You follow someone on Twitter, you get an automated reply and a URL tacked on to the message. You message them human to human and they don’t reply, because they aren’t there. They follow you, but it’s just them following an automated follow list. You watch some tweep’s output for ten minutes and see nothing but an automated news and blog feed while they try to dominate their ‘niche’ with hijacked content. You post on a corporate Facebook wall and get an automated offer or welcome plus directions to their ‘billboard’ (web-site).
It’s hilarious watching one auto-tweep (peep=people, tweep =twitter people) follow, then ‘unfollow’ the other while they pound each other mercilessly with messages that neither ‘robot’ will read or acknowledge. The geometric progression of insincerity, lost time and lost capacity is horrific. It’s the definition of futility in a social medium.
“H-I T-H-A-N-K-S F-O-R F-O-L-L-O-W-I-N-G: N-O-W G-O S-T-A-R-E A-T M-Y B-I-L-L-B-O-A-R-D”.
By automating your brand presence in social media, you join the robots. It’s a bad look and a bad feel. Robots are soulless. Robots are puppets. Robots don’t have original thoughts. Why have robots represent you in a medium made unique only by its social element?
OK. I know why you do it. You do it to lift the velocity of your engagement to real time and cut costs. You think an immediate automated response is better than a delayed human response. Is it a ‘toss up’ between being in a conversation with someone who takes two hours to express a thought in reply, and walking into a party where everyone else sends humanoid facsimiles to represent themselves and ‘socialize’.
I’d rather get a human response 5 minutes later or even 2 hours later than find the brand or person I am engaging is a lifeless bucket of bolts. Human response will be THE differentiating service feature in years to come in social media.
The message for companies engaging ‘human to human’ is: lift your human monitoring and response velocities NOW. That’s the smart battleground if you want to stay ahead of the game.
Old Spice Man will be a tired memory in the dustbin of historical marketing gimmickry, when the focus on monitoring and response velocity is still white hot.
If you sell some type of soap powder, then go ahead and automate marketing, sales, distribution and customer service. Set your robots loose. I’m not against billboards and vending machines in the street or at the bar. Drop boxes for return of used bottles and cans are fine. I just don’t like any of them walking around my party pretending to be human. I invited your mind. I am looking for you…not your crummy robot.
Decide whether you are selling soap powder and then make a commitment to be essentially automated or essentially human. If you choose humanity, be selective about who you seek to engage. Look at your market and figure out where they party. Keep it human. Less conversations that lead nowhere mean more human resource for better response times. Plan for high standards of velocity in response. After I say “hi” to someone in a conversation, I’m not going to wait 30 minutes for their mouth to start moving…not if someone else’s mouth is moving faster.
Velocity like Relevance, is one of several critical (and eternal) standards in social and it is going to be very competitive to see who can respond fastest with a human touch.
Get ready to spend more on social media. Much more. While human response in social is scalable, the time and effort required to set it up is expensive. As a brand achieves an effective and reliable human presence in social, consumers develop a contingent trust. Also, the brand develops a wonderful asset in its online brand advocates. People tell other people the answer. Consumers market to consumers. Customers defend human brands. It’s horizontal engagement and it requires trust. Nobody trusts robots. Every time a consumer interacts with another consumer to pass valuable information about the brand, it improves the productivity of engagement by the brand. This is the open secret about social that will kill the brands that opt to automate engagement. But it will cost money to get that human presence up and running. Per Clayton Christensen and his books, social media is truly a disruptive technology, unless you treat it like telephony.
Telephony was doomed from the start as a commercial human to human medium. Strangely, its privacy represents its weakness as a commercial medium. It has zero scalability. Extra calls mean extra conversations and extra salaries and wages. Nobody hears the conversations in telephony, so nobody learns from them. Nobody was there to witness the joy or despair. No horizontal engagement.
We’ve been here and done that automation thing with telephony. Telephony was automated with AVR and passed about from one agent and one country to another (all robots reading from scripts). We didn’t like it. Remember? It persisted only because we had no options. Social media is different. Don’t make the mistake of trying to automate your brand presence in social media to lift the velocity of response and cut the cost of engagement. Social media is scalable and will pay you back for keeping it human. Automate, and humans will always choose humans if one is available. Watch the people migrate from telephony to social media. Watch them migrate from telephony models to human models inside social media. Leave the telephony model at the front door please.