You Can’t Buy Transparency

robotIs your company out to impress the world with their online presence? Well, you are in luck because so is the rest of the world. We are now living in the post .com bubble and of course the social media bubble burst when Facebook went IPO. Or maybe when your grandmother started using Twitter? Whatever the case, social media is old news.

My company, Spontaneous Combustion, is built on social media. I help companies plan and manage their social stuff. So, why would I be reprimanding social media tactics and making fun of them? Because they’re hilarious! But really, things have gotten out of control.

Controlling The Bots

While working in my industry of social media, there are a lot of robots I encounter. As much as I do love robots, these kinds are not the fun ones. These robots or “bots” I am referring to are tearing down the infrastructure of Facebook and even more so on Twitter. How many times have you said something about a product or used a #hashtag in a tweet? Probably a lot. Then, you are quickly greeted with a tweet about winning a free iPad! It seems the iPad is the ONLY thing any consumer wants in this world. And the bots know it.

My qualm with the bots is always growing. There are thousands of fantastic brand reps, community managers, interns, social strategists, and whatever else you want to call us who are working hard behind the tweets. We are a certain group of passionate people who observe and execute real human interaction to a brand’s follower or friend. We are not bots. We do not spam and we do not automate content five years in advance. You shouldn’t be automating anything further than a month away, actually.

5,000 Followers Now!

These bots are stealing our jobs! It’s certainly not the immigrants! Some companies are too focused on the amount of likes they have. They want more followers and they want them yesterday. It is our job, as a social strategist, to make this happen. Personally, my role in social media is to foster engagement. I will never promise you an ungodly amount of followers or views on your site. It’s ridiculous. At the end of the day, most of the crazy numbers on social platforms are fake. They are literally bought by someone who doesn’t feel the need for transparency.

The robots are bought and then rust over time. Some fans and followers will never be responding. But hell, your brand has more followers than Britney Spears so you win the internet, right? Wrong. You’re not winning anything. You’re enabling real people to connect with your brand. You are not fostering engagement and you are defeating the purpose of being on the intergalactic internet.

Social Media Is Serious, Sometimes

Online engagement gets a bad reputation. Some see social media professionals as people with no original ideas that simply tweet all day long. While that may hold true for some social strategists and community managers, it does not represent us all. Many of us pride ourselves on setting up best practices and plans to ensure that the bots do not take over. The good ones are not gurus and we do not wear around a blue ribbon with the word “Expert” on it. Our job is never finished. Anyone who works in social media knows this. Twitter never sleeps, if you haven’t noticed. But more importantly, trolls never sleep.

Let’s get real. Some brands do not need 5 million followers or 100,000 fans to be successful. If you have helped one customer or made one user happy via social media channels, then you’re successful. If you answered a question for them over Twitter at 1am, you are successful.

Stop tallying up your likes and followers and stop buying bots. You may as well deactivate your accounts and stop telling the world you love your users. Because you don’t. If a company wants to instill false ideas in their social media, then imagine what kind of other practices they are doing. Remain transparent at all costs. In the end, you will gain more respect and become a lifelong voice online. Let the robots rust.

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