Why Is Your Tweet on Repeat? No Reply Necessary.

Why Is Your Tweet on Repeat? No Reply Necessary.

UPDATE: I think I just got it. Why Guy and Chris don’t blast up Facebook or Google+ the same way they relentlessly spam Twitter. The display of their walls on Facebook or G+ would make it too easy to see their spam, to take the numbers. Twitter is a firehose, for sure, but the measure can still be taken, with a tool or two. But on Facebook and G+ their spammy ways would be OBVIOUS. Well, let’s see what we can do to bring their Twitter streams into the light. (Heh Heh)

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It’s okay to tweet up a new piece of content several times over a 24-hour period. I do it all the time. But when you load up your auto-bot tweeting software and spew the exact same tweet hour after hour, in the name of exposure or reach, then something has gone sour in your philosophy about what “social media” is. If we believe Guy Kawasaki’s latest webcast, “Social media is a great marketing platform.” Then I suppose spamming, blanketing, and repeating the same message, like a radio ad that runs every half-hour, is all part of the plan. But is social media really just a marketing platform? Is spam on Twitter forgivable? Then I ask, Guy and others, why not spam every channel? What’s preventing you from blasting post after post onto your Facebook page? I mean, if our Facebook reach is down to about 10% of our followers, then in some parallel universe you are doing these “friends” a favor right?

You see, the defense for spamming Twitter, often echoed by the followers of these social-savants, is about the time zones and how their followers would miss the tweet if it was only broadcast once. Um, yeah, that’s kind of how Twitter works for noobs. But anyone using Twitter without a tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck is already beyond your reach. The idea that tweeting the same tweet, hour after hour is good for your followers, well, it’s a smoke screen. Why then don’t you spam Google+ in the same way? Don’t you have followers all around the world on G+ as well?

And Guy makes a very rational point, “If I tweet something four times, I’m going to get four times the responses.” Um, yeah, that’s pretty simple math.

So what’s my problem? Why am I all jihad on this auto-tweeting thing? Are they hurting anyone by using Twitter as a broadcast medium rather than a social channel that has to potential for a conversation to emerge and go both ways. That’s what’s SOCIAL about Twitter. If you just blow millions of tweet up everyone’s skirts, you’re just like a radio ad. There’s no problem with radio ads, but they are not social, they are not two-way, they facilitate zero conversations.

For the auto-tweeter it’s no longer about conversations it’s only about conversions. If you click they make money. If you respond they don’t. Therefore they don’t bother to respond. Or in the case of auto-tweets, they can’t respond, because there is no human doing the tweeting. A scheduled tweet has ZERO potential to spark a conversation. And if social is about conversations AND conversions, then I would argue that social spam is as bad for social media as email spam. When your Twitter inbox is flooded with TrueTwit validation requests, and auto-responder “Thanks for following, now buy my book…” there’s very little conversation going on.

Is that what we want? Is social media about the conversation? Or is it okay for social media to become more of a broadcast channel? (I may have already lost this battle in the mainstream, but as an individual, you can do it differently.) I have nothing against Pepsi blanketing the Superbowl market with ads, tweets, posts, and emails letting us know their half-time show is going to be awesome. But they are Pepsi. They are not asking for us to respond, they are simply using social media to broadcast their message to the masses. No reply necessary.

But when a human, an individual with integrity and something to offer, starts blowing up the Twitter streams with repeated and auto-tweeted post, there’s something wrong. This is my opinion, and I would guess that today Guy Kawasaki or Chris Brogan would tell you I am wrong. But they are hiding behind some form of “everybody does it” defense.

No Guy and Chris, NOT EVERYBODY SPAMS SOCIAL MEDIA. Pepsi might, but you, sirs, are no Pepsi.

Or are they? Has the Guy Kawasaki brand become so huge, has his 8+ million following audience become just a commodity, like an ad channel? Yes, I think perhaps that’s what Guy is telling us. He is so big, that he no longer needs to tweet his own tweets. (He’s been using ghost tweeters for years, so that’s nothing new.) And he’s so big that people will follow and continue to follow him as he blows nonsense into the twittersphere at an insane robo-rate. He couldn’t tweet all the tweets he tweets. And he admits that he doesn’t.

In his webcast he says he retweets something four times, at eight-hour intervals. Thus insuring his audience has the opportunity to revel in his wisdom, or more likely, click on his advertising links. I guess if you bury ads tweets within a stream of buzzfeed-ish pabulum, you’ll be disguising your spam. Or maybe not? Maybe Guy doesn’t think spam is spam.

And let me be real here, and say that when I write what I consider a particularly good post, I will tweet about it several times over the course of the next 24 hours. And I am using the some of the same logic as Guy and Chris. If it’s not in the tweetstream it can’t be seen.

But I differ in one major aspect of my participation on Twitter.

I NEVER AUTO-TWEET ANYTHING.

If I am tweeting a third time during the course of a day, about some post I’ve written or found, I am sitting at the computer, typing and looking forward to potential responses. Of course, I am not broadcasting to 1.4 million followers. Perhaps the responses are overwhelming. It’s like turning off comments (As Chris Brogan has done on his blog.) It’s not that it’s wrong, it’s just that you’ve become a broadcaster and not a social media participant any more. Seth Godin is a great example. He “blogs” but has never allowed comments. Fine. And perhaps Chris is the new Seth Godin. I’m sure that’s an aspiration. But the conversation is what social is about. If you turn off your comments, or start robo-tweeting you are killing the opportunity for the conversation to take place. (Much less if you BLOCK the conversation by BLOCKING the people who question your newly spammy ways.

Okay, fine… I think what we need to do is take a deep look at the Twitter output of both Guy and Chris over the last 7 days. Let’s see what the mix is for both of them. TWEET/RETWEET/REPEAT. And then let’s see what their ratios say about how much they value the conversation today. Sure, social media IS about commerce. But if the commerce has trumped the conversation, then we’ve lost a huge part of the value of social media.

And to take it to one more extreme, to illuminate the fallacy of these two gentlemen’s delusion, let’s imagine that they unleash the full-robo on all of their social channels. If we begin telling marketers and individuals that blasting 5 or 10 identical posts and tweets and updates to ALL of their social channels is okay, we’re going to see a dramatic drop in the value of social media for all of us. So why stop at Twitter Guy and Chris? What’s holding you back? What are you telling all of your followers about the “conversation” vs. the “commerce” in your value proposition?

“No reply necessary. I’m not really here.”

Tell them or me what you think (my comments are always on):

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth

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