Posts Tagged automated tweets

Hash Tags—The Trouble with Twitter Tribbles

 

Normally, I only talk about social media on Wednesdays, but today we are going to talk about something vitally important for anyone using Twitter to build a platform. Hash tags. Hash tags are wonderful. They can connect us to people all over the globe that we could never meet any other way. Hash tags are a powerful way to build communities and friendships. They can also be a fabulous tool for making information manageable.

And yet…

Ah, the trouble with Tribbles hash tags. Hash tags are so cute and adorable. They make Twitter fun and help us connect with people all over the globe. But, before we get too excited…

BEWARE!

Before we talk about how hash tags can get out of hand, you might be asking yourself this question:

Um…Kristen. What’s a hash tag?

Fair enough. For those who happen to be hash tag savvy, feel free to scroll down. For the rest of you, you might find yourself asking, What the heck is that # thingy I see all the time?
***Important NoteTo make the most out of hash tags, I highly recommend you go download TweetDeck or HootSuite. These applications will help you be able to manage thousands of tweeps and also will help you make the most out of hash tags. These applications will also help you quickly spot a Twitter Tribble outbreak and shut it down before it gets out of hand.

Where was I? Oh, yes! That little # symbol is going to help you build a worldwide following. I know. That’s partly how I did it.

So what’s a hash tag? Well, when we first join Twitter, we are all alone…save for the celebrities that Twitter gives us, but it isn’t like Ashton Kutcher and Lady Ga Ga are going to chit chat with us. So, we’re going to have to make some friends.

Hash tags help us meet people who love to talk about the same things we do. When we place a # with a keyword at the end of our tweet, Twitter slots our tweet into a conversation shared by people all over the world bound by topic.

Some popular writer hashtags are:

#amwriting, #pubtip, #indie, #selfpub, #amediting, #nanowrimo, #askagent #publaw

The BEST writer hash tag, of course, is #MyWANA and here is why. We are also the best namely because we actively support all the other writing hash tags.

Thus, when I tweet about my blog, often it looks like this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #MyWANA #pubtip #indie

My Tweet now will not just go out to my specific followers, it will be seen by the THOUSANDS of people all over the world who might be participating in those three popular hash tag conversations.

Why I recommend you download TweetDeck is that you can slot each hash tag into its own column and then follow the people and conversations. When it comes to social media, we must interact and be vested in others, or we risk being perceived as fake and selfish. The hash tag is to help us meet and converse with others. It is not a new way to spam our fellow tweeps.

 

Meet the Twitter Tribble

Hash tags on their own are mostly harmless, but plug them into any tool that automates and now you have a Twitter Tribble. Sort of like Don’t feed these suckers after midnight and DO NOT get them wet! My advice is DO NOT PLUG HASH TAGS INTO AUTOMATION.

Using an auto-tweet system with hash tags is a BAD idea. Recently, I’ve run into some issues with Triberr. Triberr is an amazing tool for aggregating all our favorite blogs into one spot, and I use it and love it. The Triberr folks make it super easy to read all our favorite blogs and to promote our favorite bloggers. There is even a function that will allow us to automatically post for a fellow blogger. This function is awesome because then we can support our favorite bloggers.

This function is fantastic, but it can land us in a world of trouble if we aren’t careful.

If we set up a small bit of automation, that’s fine, so long as we are still actively engaging on Twitter. If we have Triberr set to automatically tweet for some of our favorite blogs, that isn’t a big deal so long as we are not solely relying on that automation.

Automation is a double-edged sword. Sure, it gets content out there, but, if people suspect automation, that content will be rendered invisible. Thus, the “exposure” does no good because no one is paying attention.

Twitter Tribbles Take Over and KILL Hash Tags

Remember the trouble with the real Tribbles? So long as there were only a couple of Tribbles, they were cute and fuzzy and fun and everyone liked them. Same with hash tags. Hash tags help me be able to discover content I might not see any other way.

If I am not following @FifiFakename, but Fifi writes a mind-blowing post about world domination using paper scissors, I will never see that life-changing blog unless Fifi tweets it using a hash tag I follow. So if Fifi tweets:

@FifiFakename Formula to take over the world with paper scissors (link here) #MyWANA

Now, no matter where Fifi tweets from, I can now see her content scroll by because of the hash tag. See? Cute. Fuzzy. Fun.

But what if Fifi starts relying on automation? She just got the hash tag wet.

Oh….dear.

What if Fifi automatically tweets her blog with #MyWANA. Oh, but she also has 52 favorite bloggers and she wants to make sure the WANA peeps see those blogs, too? So she plugs in the automation and adds the #MyWANA hash tag to the end. What happens now?

A Twitter Tribble is Born

MyWANA The Love Revolution just suddenly turned into the MyWANA The Link Revolution. Fifi has single-handedly crowded out any other content on #MyWANA. In an effort to build more community, she’s just blitzkrieged one.

This can happen easily if we automate, but if we are at least present on Twitter, we can shut down the Twitter Tribbles before they multiply too much and take over. But, if we are using Triberr to do all our tweeting for us? Then we aren’t actually present on Twitter, so we aren’t there to witness if we are gumming up a column. People could easily see this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

What’s Worse than Clogging a Column?

Clogging a column is bad enough, but gumming up a column looks especially bad if I have automated tweets meant to sound like I am tweeting in person.

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

As you can see, I have not only gummed up an entire column with my automated tweet, but I have programmed the tweet to look like a real person, though anyone with a half a brain can now tell this is automation. Now people are not only going to dislike me because I took up a whole column, they are really going to despise me because I treated them as if they were too dumb to realize there wasn’t a real person on the other end.

Few things can make a person feel more ridiculous than talking back to a bot.

Twitter Tribble Backlash

So now I have not only annoyed my followers, I have also made them distrust me. These days people are turning to their social networks for authentic word-of-mouth, and if we serve up spam, this can land us in trouble. It can damage or even ruin our reputation. People are smart and will smell an automatically generated message a mile away…and then promptly ignore us, report us or unfollow us, and, frankly, who can blame them?

What’s Even Worse than That? Real Twitter Tribble Trouble

There are all kinds of programs that will allow us to automate messages. Just use the automation very sparingly, and here is why. Let’s take a quick look at the Twitter Terms of Service:

See the one about updates containing mainly links and no personal interaction? If Twitter gets too many complaints they can shut down our account. Also, if we do something that makes them take a look at us, and our feed is nothing but link after link after link all stemming from an outside application (like Hoot Suite or Triberr), they can shut down our account. Lots of work down the drain and it all can be avoided.

Say You Must Use Some Automation

Okay, so you want to use some automation to make sure your blogger pals all get tweeted. Fine. No problem! BUT THEN THIS IS ALL THE MORE REASON TO GET ON TWITTER AND CONVERSE. Twitter is not per se, against automation. Twitter is against spam, and, if all we are doing is allowing HootSuite or Tribber to pump out link after link after link with no personal interaction, then we are no better than the “Hey get a free iPad!” bot.

Automation Doesn’t Have to Create Twitter Tribbles

Automation isn’t evil. If we are pre-programming tweets we want to make sure get out so this frees us up to chit chat and get to know people on Twitter, then we are no longer a bot. We are using a tool to more effectively connect and interact, not as a way to be lazy and get all the benefits of a community’s support without having to bother serving that community.

When hash tags become Twitter Tribbles is when the user tries to use automation as a substitute for authentic attendance.

TweetDeck Can Help Us Spot Twitter Tribbles

Even if we don’t automate, we can still have an outbreak of Twitter Tribbles. The reason that I recommend TweetDeck (or HootSuite) is that it makes it easy to spot if our tweets are gumming up a column. I scan the #amwriting column to make sure I don’t already have a tweet talking about my blog in that column.

If I do, I use another hash tag #MyWANA or just wait to tweet about my blog. I try to only tweet 3 times a day to self-promote my blog. Morning, afternoon, evening to catch different Twitter crowds.

One way we can prevent RT Twitter Tribbles is by deleting the original hash tags and adding new ones. So if I tweet:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

My friends can delete my hash tags and add new ones:

RT@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writer #scm

This keeps the Twitter Tribbles at bay (keeps us from clogging a column) and it also extends my tweet to new #s and new groups of people, so it’s a huge help.

The Golden Twitter Rule

Make it a rule to promote others more than yourself, to be genuinely present, and you will rule the Twitterverse and even make some really awesome friends. Remember, social media most successful when it is a team effort.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever talked back to a bot only later to feel like a tard? Do you have any tips, tools, suggestions?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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