Has Force-feeding Your Twitter Account Made You Irrelevant?

Oct 14, 2011   //   by Susan Cooper   //   Social Media  //  16 Comments

Force-feedingIt seems that nearly everyday I see more and more of the Twitter accounts I follow becoming basically one force-fed tweet after another. There are numerous programs available that allow users to link to various RSS feeds, schedule tweets and more recently a program to basically allow you to gather a tribe of your friends together to agree to auto-post all of their blogs to your personal twitter account in exchange for their agreement to allow you to do the same.

To see these posts come through my Twitter stream from people I respected in the social media community is to be honest, a bit disheartening. While I know that these services give users the ability to moderate posts before they go out, it’s evident that moderation is the last thing on anyone’s mind. It’s all about the automation, just spit ’em out…1…2…3 and keep going. They have no clue as to what is going through their Twitter account, and that’s not as important to them as the knowledge that their latest blog posts is being spammed out on their friends’ accounts.

The most obvious twitter spam I have noticed from these feeds has been the act of tweeting out a summary of someone’s tweets for that day that have been reformulated into a blog post. These posts are definitely not something anyone would purposely retweet, more for the blog owner to keep a history of their daily tweets, but these type posts are getting retweeted on a daily basis due to the trust these friends have placed in each other to only post quality content within their group. And moreover due to the lack of moderated content that users allow to trickle through their twitter streams.

Basically all of these force-feeding services promise you the world. You’ll have more time for engagement, you’ll easily be present online 24 hours a day, you reap the SEO benefits of numerous tweets of each and every blog post you write, and this will solve all of your problems with finding the time to participate in numerous social media platforms with the added benefits of their cross-posting platform! Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Well maybe it is wonderful for automating content, but when I know for a fact that a trusted friend is tweeting posts that they have not even read (nor even seen the title of)…for me…well, I am less likely to care what they posted or even take the time to read their feeds.

Using automated content to fill your social media accounts day in and day out basically dehumanizes you and creates a more robotic feed. Force-feeding social media accounts with numerous automatic tweets does nothing but make you irrelevant and land you in the list of spammers that get unfollowed every day by people using services like TheTwitCleaner. Depending on your level of interaction, you’ll either land in the “Bots” category or if you’re lucky, maybe the “Nothing But Links” category; but even then, when the dreaded message shows above your carefully chosen Twitter avatar stating that you are 90% feed driven, chances are that your social media value has dropped tremendously to everyone. So any anticipated SEO benefits are greatly outweighed by your diminishing list of formerly interested followers.

So how can you turn it around? How can you get back to the non-spamming unique and interesting individual you used to be on Twitter? Get started by following these three simple steps:

Curate Quality Content

Your twitter account should be a reflection of YOU! You should never feel the need to retweet every post a friend writes. You should never tweet every article from every news site you like. You should never tweet anything that doesn’t reflect your high quality standards. Only tweet about articles you read that are interesting to you, articles that define who you are, what you like and dislike, or that inform the community about something you feel is important enough to be shared.

Limit Automation

While it’s acceptable to schedule a few tweets occasionally, never ever allow your Twitter account to become basically an RSS feed of numerous blogs. If we want a news site’s feed, we know how to follow them. What most people want to see in your Twitter stream is the best content you read that day, and some personality…not every single article from every single news site or blog available.

Create Quality Content

Some users blog, others take photos, others post opinions or outrage about a current event…everyone can create something to add to their Twitter stream that lets people know they are real. Something that engages your followers and creates a unique user experience and not to mention a community of people that share your common interests. More importantly, you create a community of people that see you, once again….. as relevant.

PS. In the immortal words of the band Styx:

“Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,

(Please thank you)

The problem’s plain to see,

Too much technology,

Machines to save our lives,

Machines de-humanize,

The time has come at last, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)

To throw away this mask, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)

Now everyone can see, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)

My true identity”

Styx – Domo Arigato, Mr Roboto

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Susan Cooper

Susan Cooper is a social media enthusiast who enjoys working with talented individuals looking to increase their new media presence. And lucky enough to work with talented musicians and creatives interested in interacting within a community rather than just operating a social media billboard. Feel free to check out her blog Follow her at http://twitter.com/BuzzEdition or subscribe to her RSS feed.

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  • Andrew says:

    I agree. I have started de-listing my Twitter people. Not nessicarily unfollowing (though I do that too), but pushing them off the lists I actually pay attention to. I gag a bit when I see the articles and advertisements about how to automate a twitter feed and turn it into a pure advertising machine. I would so much rather experience the people behind the stream. I’ve made a number of close friends including meeting my wife on Twitter, I would hate to see it devolve into another channel of stuff I want to avoid like TV.

    • Susan Cooper says:

      How incredibly cool that you met your wife on twitter! Probably never would have happened if you de-listed her for automation! πŸ˜‰

      I do the de-listing too. Sometimes they drop down a list into one I don’t pay much attention to. Watching some of my old friends who used to be so active on twitter actually become fully automated, really hits hard. They used to be the cream of the crop in the twitterverse. But the bad thing is, they will never see this article, even if they tweet it out!

      Appreciate the comments πŸ˜‰

  • Ann Smarty

    Hey Susan, good point and something I do respect..bit am not following. I am much more tolerant to seeing tweets like this, even if they are automated. I am using my favorite blogs’ feeds to tweet new posts automatically – only because I love the content of those blogs! So I’d say it’s fine until you start overdoing that!

    • Susan Cooper says:

      I respect your right to disagree, but while I can understand you saying that you love reading every blog in your feed, it still escapes me how people can feel every single post written by any blogger is worth sharing. I’ll agree that you may love reading each post from a favorite blogger to see if it’s great (I do that daily myself by scanning my fave blogs and scanning through my twitter lists), but I can’t wrap my head around sharing content I didn’t read first.

      I have tuned out some of my oldest friends on twitter, even though I still adore them, I know that they are simply a feed..whereas there used to be a time when they had those moments of saying “That’s cool”, “Wow”, or “OMG” before they tweeted out that amazing article they simply had to share.

      I’ll give Chris Brogan as an example, I know when I check his tweets each day that I am guaranteed to see some of the coolest content shared on twitter that day. Each tweet is chosen because he had that moment where he said, “That’s interesting”, That’s important”, or “That’s hilarious” right before he hits that retweet button.

      As an alternative I can go to a RSS account of my favorite blogs and find a few articles I like and feel are cool to share. But certainly not all of them.

      There are lots of people that tweet out every article from the top 10 social media and tech blogs. To me they are noise, because I already follow most of those sites.

      The people that curate their content get my attention, because I know that they are sharing something because they actually know for a fact it’s awesome!

      On the flip-side…to each their own. If it works for you and makes you happy. That’s all that matters! ~hugs~

  • Tania says:

    Great post. This is a bit off tangent but I also unfollow anyone who tweets about a “great unfollow tool”. Using an application to find out which of your followers is not following you so you may return the unfollow favor.

    Social media is a pull, not a push concept. I get truly annoyed with the crazy following just for numbers and not for the act of engaging, learning and discovering. Reminds me of the businessman at a networking function who wants to shake everyone’s hand or get the most business cards but can’t remember your face a minute after he meets you.

    • Susan Cooper says:

      So true! And usually those people that post those “You unfollowed me” tweets are the same ones advertising “Get 1000’s of followers by clicking this link” posts…and trust me I am with you…they are not followed and blocked as soon as I see them.

      I am very picky with people I follow these days. In the beginning I used auto-follow (shame on me) but after I stopped a few years back, I now review each and every twitter account before I follow. I view their last twenty tweets, their bio and if I don’t see interaction with people, good content and no spam…they simply get ignored or in extreme cases of spam, I block. πŸ˜‰

  • Patty

    Interesting article…how do you feel about Guy Kawasaki? His feed is pretty much a feed to his site&blog posts that others contribute to Holy Kaw. I find much of what he shares informative and RT a lot of it even if I don’t get a chance to read each one, but if the headline catches my eye I’ll RT or fave it to share&bookmark for later.
    I am also known to use twitter feeds in my stream to share news content on politics to parenting&a variety of other issues that are important to me. Similar to what you do with your buzzedition twitter account. However, while also sharing news&feeds since my user name is ‘littlebytesnews’ I also share commentary&interact with others on various topics. I find this has worked well for me and those who don’t want to follow can always unfollow,but so far my number of followers has grown so I don’t worry about the few that drop off. Thanks for the interesting article.

    • Susan Cooper says:

      From what I know about Guy, from what he has said, he auto-feeds from his Alltop site, and has a staff that tweets random articles. In the beginning Guy would tweet. As twitter got larger, Guy has pretty much become the same as any standard feed type account like Mashable, Techcrunch, etc. While I used to see Guy as a personality on twitter he is more of a news site now. The only problem I have with Alltop, is that it’s more like a Digg type site without the voting. I tend not to share articles that make you click to see a summary, then re-click to see the article. That’s a personal preference because it simply is not something I like to do. I like to click and be at the full story.

      As far as what I do on my account, I don’t use newsfeeds. Every single article I tweet, I have read. I have crazy sleeping habits, so the most I would ever do is if I wake up at 4 am and none of my friends are online, I may schedule a tweet to post at 8-9 am so people can see it. But absolutely nothing goes out on my twitter account that I have not read completely that day.

      Every single day I look for fresh articles, I go through lists of quotes, I go through my lists for cool things posted by artists, photographers, celebs, anything I may find interesting, and then I tweet πŸ˜‰

      I guess the difference is, I could never trust anyone’s feed, or blog to fill my twitter stream. My tweets reflect what I like, what I dislike, what makes me laugh….and a feed could never represent me. πŸ˜‰

  • Ahsan

    well-written content on twitter. Most of bloggers add in different twitter apps. So when a new article published, it automatically sends a link in twitter. I also think its useless. We should use Twitter in proper way for marketing

  • While I agree that people shouldn’t be tweeting out things they’ve never read, don’t think it interesting/quality/whatever, I think it’s unfair to lump all of us using some of these services together. That’s not directed at anyone specific, just in general. Yes, I am a member of Triberr. I have a tribe of my own and am a member of another tribe. I do not tweet out ever post every member of either tribe makes. Not even close. There are a few that I tweet nothing out for because I see little interest or relevance in any of it. While ‘auto’ is an option available, I personally choose not to use it. Everyone is set to manual and I physically review/hand pick which posts I tweet. If it’s in my stream on Twitter, you can be assured I read it.

  • Jim

    Great Post. While I do use Social Oomph to schedule Tweets pointing to new and old blog posts, I have restricted the number of these ‘reminder notices’ to content that I consider to still be relevent to my followers.

    Currently, I am also restricting the number of these reminders to around 6 during any 24 hour period. I consider this a legit use of the technology, since new followers and readers will hopefully appreciate being pointed to old content on my site that they might not necessarily have time to discover themselves. Let’s face it, even the most ardent new reader is not going to work their way through hundred of pages of previous content now matter how good.

    The problem I have with the issue you write about is with those people whose automatic ReTweeting software spews out a constant stream of updates to content that is often dated and not all that interesting to begin with.

    Today, in fact I unfollowed an account who has run a massive 75,000+ Tweets and who adds to them at the rate of a hundred or more every day. Much of the content on his site is actually quite interesting, but I don’t need to be told about it constantly day after day.

    To make matters worse, I realised recently that this person *never* retweets content or links from people he follows. He just plugs his own content.

  • One reason I cut way back on the Tweet Old Post plugin for WordPress was the automation, ultimately Twitter is about building connections as all of Social Media is not for getting traffic to sites. Twitter accounts for less than 1% of my site traffic so tweeting more than maybe 1 link every 4 hours was not acceptable. I do have 2-3 posts per day going on my site, plus accounting for time diff. But I make sure I am as interactive as possible. I am going to scan my own account to see what the Twit Cleaner thinks of it and may tweak more if I am not happy how it shows my account.

  • Ileane

    Hi Susan, I was invited to a number of Triberr groups but I never took the plunge. However, one day I realized that I would retweet every new post from a handful of bloggers that I admire and respect – so I set up Twitterfeed a few months ago with no regrets ever since. I guess the bottom line is 2 or 3 feeds is fine but a whole tribe is just way too much. πŸ™‚

  • Nick Harris says:

    I used to follow anyone who shared my interests, now I just follow those who speak to me as a person and share my interests. I have no time for automated tweets with links to the latest ATV stories, especially if 50 people write basically the same article on the same day because of some news report.

  • Sam says:

    Just read your post and I must say I see why many people are using automatic tweets. They get the feeling they will reach more people if they tweet more and are always on twitter. But you pointed out a great aspect and that is personality. I think that is what many tweeps are lacking…