What is a bot? – Are you acting like one?
I constantly hear people talk about ‘bots’ on social media but what is a bot?
By definition, this means automated programs that help build and interact within the social media platforms.
However, as I was scouring the internet trying to find the best ways to build my own social media profiles I discovered that I was accidentally mimicking the same actions. In other words, I was a human bot.
Since writing this post, I have done a lot to improve my social media. However, this post is still relevant to the thought process as I move forward. In future posts, you will see the actions I have taken to improve my social media and the followers this action has attracted.
Fill out the profile properly
Initially, I did not fill out my profiles in full and add all the required photos and banners. I discovered that some people automatically took this to mean that I was not a ‘real’ person. Oops, I quickly corrected that.
However, it made me realize that some newbies will be making the same mistake until they realize that they need to fill in all the blanks. I am careful, therefore, that I don’t mistake new profiles for bots. When looking to consider following someone without a completed profile, I now try to check their profile and posts.
Secondly, automated bots just ‘like’ posts so that the profile appears to be active. I was doing this thinking that I was supposed to like lots of posts so that people would know I was viewing that photo and liked it or was reading and enjoyed what they had said. Again I was acting like a bot.
It is important that you like posts so that people know that you enjoy the content that they are creating, but adding a good and relevant comment as well is generally required to keep your profile real and relevant. Sometimes it can be hard to find the right words, especially if someone is having a hard time or even a rant, but we do need to try. A simple ‘nice’ is not considered a good comment.
I would often share posts without adding my own forward, particularly with Twitter and I understand that the new changes will mean that this will result in the algorithm seeing it as a repeat post rather than a retweet. A new no-no. So I must now always add a comment to reposts, retweets etc.
I often comment on a photo saying things like cool, sweet, beautiful. These one-word posts are also confused with bots. Sometimes I feel like to have to pinch myself, just to make sure that I am a real person. I wonder how many others don’t succeed in building an interactive following because, like me, they have not realized that their actions are misinterpreted.
Many actions promoted to build followings, particularly like mass following and later unfollowing to build numbers, may build profile numbers but how many of these ‘followers’ are active. If bots automatically follow back rather than look to see if a profile is active, then followers of big influencers have the potential to be irrelevant. Where a platform has a limit or follow/follower ratio then this can work against you especially if these accounts get shut down.
I recently found a Twitter profile with about 5000 following and a similar number of followers, yet it had one post. The followers, myself included, automatically followed back and simply made up numbers.
I wrote a post earlier mentioning ways I was building my Twitter following, and I have succeeded in growing the numbers by a thousand or so since that post, despite not spending a lot of time online. However, in hindsight, I will now need to review the effectiveness of these actions. I have found a lot of unfollowing by others and need to keep deleting these people from my profile.
As Twitter is such a fast-moving feed, I will need to look at making up a lot of ‘template’ posts in advance and posting them with a different comment and each time I go online. I will also need to share to Twitter more, from other platforms, just to continue to be ‘seen’. Hopefully with a combination of retweeting and interacting I will have a more active profile myself.
Fans rather than followers
If you wish to build a following of people that you may later wish to do business with then numbers mean nothing. It is better to have 100 potential customers (fans) that 100,000 people who don’t read what you are posting. With this in mind, I will actively work on interactive followers within the platforms.
I have over 900 Facebook friends and have started seeing recommendations with profiles that have 150 or 200 friends in common. Whilst having a great number of friends can mean that your posts have the potential to be shared to a wider community, if you have so many friends in common then the post could easily be re-shared to your own friends rather than the larger community. This could actually reduce the effectiveness of your post.
Again numbers are not everything. I am starting to consider that some of these Facebook friends in common could possibly be automated bots rather than be people actually responding to the friend request and reading peoples posts. I will still be accepting friend requests but have stopped sending out requests to those with more than 50 friends in common. I will attempt to spend some time on pages and ask my friends to like it as I feel that this is a better option with the new Facebook algorithm.
Facebook’s new algorithm is a pain as the feed does not seem to vary the content as much, but maybe as some people are just adding numbers and not interacting perhaps this could work in favour of those that do interact with each other. I will certainly be reviewing my friends, as well as my groups, as many of these groups are not effective as a reach magnet.
Hashtags in social media
In the past, I have stayed away from hashtags but I am now reviewing this policy and adding some relevant hashtags to each post. Again repeated hashtags seem like a bot, so I will be trying to ensure that they are only relevant to the post itself. I think the downside is that you will not only attract real people, you will also attract bot followers as they try and just build numbers. Hashtags are one way to find people to follow.
I believe that reposting, retweeting, repining and resharing across the platforms give you more brownie points than just liking. I would have thought that original content would always have a better impact but I am now questioning this. A good mix is probably the best method.
Sharing other people’s posts seems to attract their attention and if someone responds, you get seen by more people.
I guess in order to become a ‘real’ profile and not an imitation of a bot, I will need to make sure that I spend quality time on each profile rather than quantity. To this end, I plan to look at each profile individually and consider sharing and commenting rather than increasing numbers.
I hope this post and the thought process behind it will help you to rethink your social media profile and help build your online presence, and mine as well.