Reader News: 24% Of Twitter Updates Done By Bots

I was just having a discussion the other day on facebook about how people are using automatic posting tools so heavily these days. They post something on their blog, and a tool (er, “bot) automatically publishes that post to Twitter, which then is connected to their facebook and friendfeed accounts and is repeated there.

Personally, I don’t mind if people use bots to make updates on Twitter or other social networking sites IF (and only if) they’re also diving in to real communication in those locations as well.

Twitter’s great for 140 characters of communication. It’s a blink of the eyes, in all reality. But when you’re auto posting and nothing else, you wind up looking like a billboard more than a social networker. Rather than someone who’s looking to connect and communicate, you’re looking like a guy with a megaphone on the street corner… you know?

Anyway, in comes this email about a post titled An In-Depth Look at the 5% of Most Active Users that reports that almost a quarter of Twitter’s updates are done by bots (automatic posting tools).

Of the most active Twitter users updating more than 150 times/day, nearly all of them are bots operated by sources such as hotels offering deals, regional and national news services, regional weather services, the top news within Digg, games, anim services, tags within del.icio.us and financial aggregators. These very active bots account for one-quarter of all tweets.

There are lots of other interesting Twitter facts there on the Sysomos site, and I encourage you to check them out! They’ve asked that if you’re interested in discussing the article on Twitter that you use the hashtag #sysomossurvey or copy them @sysomos.

Comments

  • August 11, 2009

    I think it is sad that so many people are using bots. I think it is better you don’t tweet if u are not using twitter. Plus you will also not be able to reply to other’s replies. It is better you promote your site as a human, it gives better results (atleast for me).

  • August 11, 2009

    I think it is better to think of twitter as a protocol, not a social network of people. It is more than just network of people. People are using twitter to post all kinds of data. They have their plants on twitter( http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-9877823-52.html) , their blogs on twitter. It is not used only for a conversation, it is used as a transmitting device. Think of it as a protocol, more like http. You can’t say that internet should be about blogging only. Same reason you can’t say that twitter is for human to human dialog. I know you probably talk about your side of twittering – “connecting” and becoming popular as a marketer. But there is more to twitter than that. I’m sure more people will follow twits of obamas’ toilet (http://hackaday.com/2009/05/05/twittering-toilet/) than some small business marketer or even political observer.

  • August 11, 2009

    I usually go through my followers regularly and delete those that are obviously getting their auto tweets from the same source. I like following real people who have the time to talk to me. We live in an unpersonal world already, and I’d like to keep relationships foremost above business. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I just came back from a trip to Ecuador where the people there had relationship first, material things last, and it was so refreshing. I miss it.

  • August 11, 2009

    Well, this certainly contradicts the true purpose of social networking, don’t you think? You can hardly cultivate relationships or build a genuine fan base with automation. It’s the human aspects that make it social.

  • August 11, 2009

    I actually have very little problem with bots. I, like you, think they serve their purpose. However, as you say, its very important to make connections and be on your account personally on a regular basis.

    I will say though that I’ve wondered how effective it would be to create some sort of aggregation feed and throw in a sponsored tweet once in a while. If its useful information it might work. I don’t think I’ll be trying it any time soon though.

  • August 11, 2009

    To be honest though, the vast majority of popular accounts are broadcast in nature. Even if they tweet manually they don’t tend to interact with many people. You only have to look at the tiny number of accounts they themselves follow.

  • August 12, 2009

    I use hootsuite.com and ping.fm to send out useful information I think friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc. would also want to hear. But then I get email notifications when people post replies at Facebook or Twitter DMs. These are my first priorities. I go into Facebook, etc. and scan, post replies, interact, etc. Then I also head over to Twitter and answer DMs, then @lisajcopen posts, then check out the most recent posts at Twitter, then my favorite Twitter-ers. I post replies to Twitter, and try to visit the web sites of 10 or so people a week to get to know them better and see what relationships to form. I could never keep up without some tools, but I still enjoy the interaction and getting to know plp. The ability to post tweets in advance for useful links is one of the best tools, and then I can post personal stuff as it happens, keeping my Twitter account well-balanced.

  • August 12, 2009

    Its pretty obvious who uses bots and who’s genuine. If you’re a regular, its easy to weed them out.

  • August 15, 2009

    I have tested various set-ups with different services and found that most of them produced too much repeat tweets and and sharing things that probably weren’t Twitter-Worthy even if I had decided to save them myself. The final solution I’ve settled with is using FriendFeed to share the select few links that I enjoy and share via Google Reader. All other links and conversation is done manually via TweetDeck or other online twitter tools.

  • August 17, 2009

    I support Adi. “The vast majority of popular accounts are broadcast in nature. ” I also use ping.fm to auto post update from my blog.

  • August 19, 2009

    In addition to “bots,” Lara, there are a number of twitter sites that aren’t even being tweeted by certain celebrities. There really is, in my opinion, no difference between talking to a “bot” or a “ghost tweeter.” See the NY Times article here: When Stars Twitter, A Ghost May Be Lurking Incredibly, many folks converse…rather, attempt to converse with celebrity figures on twitter never knowing that they may just be addressing a ghost (writer, that is).

    Personally, I believe that twitter is a great social networking site regardless of these minor snafus of inhuman or ghostly encounters. ;)

    Great post, btw!

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