What NPR Can Teach Us About Twitter Automation

Twitter Automation is a gift and a curse. It does allow us to schedule content to tweet about when we simply can not be by the computer or handheld device. However, it can become a crutch, leaving us to forget what social media is all about — engagement!


The Experiment

Before we start, let’s examine what Twitter automation is. They are services that can be synced to your Twitter account and automatically tweet content from around the web acting as your account. Automation can also allow you to auto respond to those who tweet you.

National Public Radio, NPR, like many other news services and businesses, use an automation service to automatically post their plethora of content, and in some cases – automatically respond to those who tweet to your account.

However, in may one of their temporary employees ran a social experiment – the experiment? They turned off their twitter automation service and had a human run their account during business hours.

So for five days one individual sat at the desk and ran their social media accounts manually. It’s not a task that every business can afford, but for those who can – it is a worthy investment to drive audience to your website.

The results? 142,219 visits to their website via their Twitter account, a 45% increase in visits according to their Google Analytics data. Why the increase? Well it’s quite simple, people react better to live human engagement rather than twitter automation bots, and are more likely to respond than they would be if you were to use a bot. See what happens when a human is behind the account:

Having a human run your account instead of a twitter automation service allows for audience to engage with the content in real time, and generates conversation that will lead to more visitors to your website – and hopefully more leads for business!

When Automation Goes Wrong

While it is practical to use Twitter automation when you simply can’t be behind the computer, using it too much can look like you robotic, even uncaring, to those following your account. twitter-automation There is plenty of back story here that we won’t get into, but the for the sake of this post – it just goes to show that Twitter automation is not always the answer, and can alienate you from your audience. Another way Twitter automation can go wrong, is when it is used to auto reply to customers, or in this case those who don’t like your company. As was the case with Bank of America’s account. twitter-automation Obviously the initial sender had no interest in cordial discussion with BofA, but how is a bot supposed to know that? Many other accounts sent similar messages, and were left with the same generic messages, making BofA look sort of foolish.

Finding a Balance

With the amount of content produced daily by NPR, it surely took a lot of work for those behind the computer. Still, you can’t argue results, and at the very least it is a lesson that the time investment of manually interaction can lead to more visits to your website. An understandable compromise would be to set Twitter automation strictly for content to run when you are working, and genuinely can not be at the computer.

Take an hour each day to converse and share content manually. Also, try to respond to comments manually as well to avoid any issues.

Every one has a different case, but being human is a sure way to provoke conversation. See what works for your business and run with it!




Thanks to Nieman Lab, Mediabistro and NPR for the information provided in this article. Comment below and tell us how you run your Twitter account!