Earlier this week Techcrunch posted an article by Jeremiah Owyang, Brands Start Automating Social Media Responses On Facebook And Twitter. In the article Jeremiah talks about the evolution of social media and the needs of companies to look to elements of automation. I liked the article and believe Jeremiah has made a very accurate assessment of the directions which things are going.
My own belief is that automation and AI in platforms like Twitter and Facebook are a foregone conclusion, it is the only way for a company to cost effectively scale their customer service on twitter. What cracks me up is how so many are acting like it will ruin their experience on those platforms and it is the end of the world. The fact of the matter is that “Social Media” is a result of the conversation on Twitter or Facebook. Is your telephone any less of a phone, because you deal with an automated platform in customer service, No, and twitter will be no less social. We at Head of Lettuce Media always tell our clients that the value of twitter is that you decide who you want to listen to, talk to and engage with. This will not change.
The greater issue in Jeremiah’s article is “what value can those elements of automation bring to the consumer’s experience?”. If I am having issues with a company, and I complain via twitter, do I care how my problem is resolved as long as it is resolved to my satisfaction? No, I don’t, if it’s done properly, they can make me happy, compensate me for my inconvenience and even win me as an advocate. The true challenge is in the writing and structuring of these accounts.
At Head of Lettuce Media, we do a lot of theoretical testing in twitter, trying to better understand elements of automation and artificial intelligence. Many of the tests are under wraps untill they have run their course. The interesting thing is that many people enjoy interacting with AI accounts as much as they do with an individual, and they don’t seem to notice or mind. I believe part of the experience with a twitter account has to do with the account being true to its nature and well scripted.
The tale of Social Media RockStar: This past January while emceeing at Ignite Tampa Bay I ended up improving for about 25 minutes, because of technical difficulties in the beginning. Well I decided it was time to spill the beans on two of our AI accounts, Socialmedia_rs and UnfollowedYu.
While I want to focus on SocialMedia Rockstar, let’s take a quick look at what we learned from Unfollowedyu. Unfollowedyu tested two elements of interaction specifically to see what their value is on Klout he follows everyone using unfollowers to announce that people are unfollowing them (no idea why, it’s like screaming “look at me, I am uninteresting, I turn people off), he then unfollows them to get them to mention him, and when they do, he sends them ways to cope with being unfollowed (side note: while I don’t agree with announcing it, I do think it is a good metric to watch privately as it is an indicator of how your message affects your audience. See also TweetEffect).
Now for those of you rolling your eyes, stop and think for a moment of what we are learning here. He follows people, unfollows them, that causes them to mention him, he then sends them a message, and many still reply to that. This means he has a conversation with every single person he follows/unfollows. Today his Klout is a 34, not huge, but he shows us if you at least say hi, or find some way to talk to everyone who follows you, you will be perceived as engaging.
Getting back on topic, let’s look at SocialMedia Rockstar as he is one of our best functioning AI accounts, who I believe at times could pass the Turing test. Granted he is still a baby, but he is growing in his abilities. Most important, and I believe this applies to any account, he is true to his being, which means he tells you up front who he is (an egotistically self-obsessed “guru”).
Let’s break down what he does, forgetting about the silliness for a second;
- He finds his audience based on their conversation (he does not initiate conversations with individuals as I feel there is a line in the sand there separating him from spamming. Personally I hate automated “welcome aboard” and other messages).
- He puts out content that others find value in, how do we know, well in May this year, he was retweeted 296 times and mentioned 335 times, not great, but not bad either. His Klout is a 51 today.
- He talks to those who talk to him, staying true to his form.
- He is fun and entertaining.
Reading thru the comments with so many people talking like it will be the end of “social media” it made me realize that to many people look at Twitter and facebook as social media, this brings me back to my point, and that is; Twitter and Facebook are not social media, and not everything that happens on them is, but social media is that interaction that happens and flourish in those environments. Thoughts?