Dr. Twuth–Bots Make Me Bonkers

Dr. Twuth–Because social media shouldn’t make you want to drink heavily.

Today we are going to switch the format just a little. Tuesdays are now simply, Dr. Twuth Tuesday. Why? Well, I am sure you guys have all kinds of social media questions and conundrums beyond the world of just Twitter, so my alter ego, Dr. Twuth can be counted on to give you the best information on social media. And, since a spoon full of sugar humor, makes the I’d rather be punched in the face than read about social media marketing medicine go down, fun is always a guarantee here with me, Dr. Twuth, Text Therapist. The tips offered here are all based off my #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media  and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach ALL social media differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule social media–regardless of platform–without devolving into a spam bot. If social media makes you want to slam your head in a door, then you are in the right place. Just call on Dr. Twuth, because the Twuth will set you free.

On to our peeps in need….

Dear. Dr. Twuth,

Ok, so I have a Twitter question that’s been bugging me for several days now.  I’ve read WANA and I’m sure I’ve seen it in a post before that it’s polite to follow people back when they follow you.  But what if you’re being followed by people just hoping to spam you with their business?  It seems pretty easy to tell when you look at their tweets that all they do is spam.  I’ve even come across some Twitter names and profiles that look like real people, only to find they’re masking their company so they can spam unsuspecting me after I follow them back.

I don’t want to be rude, but is it polite to follow back these people, or just torture for myself?  If we’re supposed to take care with who we follow by looking to see if they’re people interested in conversation, shouldn’t we also take that care in following back?

Thanks a bunch.

Bonkers with Bots

Dear Bonkers,

Part of creating any social platform is, of course, being social. The answer to this question seems cut and dry, but it isn’t. Some people might be saying, Well, of course you wouldn’t follow back a bot! Yet, this can get tricky, especially when we have a lot of fellow writers acting like bots. This is one of the reasons we really should avoid automation as much as humanly possible.

I have attended conferences where social media experts spent an hour presenting ten different gizmos to make social media so easy the writer didn’t have to even participate. Just go to Hoot Suite and program in tweets and go back to writing. You never have to do anything! Your social platform will grow itself like a genetically enhanced Chia Pet!!!

Caveat emptor.

The danger in these approaches is that we are basically bots, so when others click on our profiles we can end up with a case of mistaken identity. Looks like a bot, acts like a bot, posts like a bot…probably a bot.

Due to Lady Gaga’s poor wardrobe choice, she was not allowed to go deer hunting ever again for safety considerations.

Thus, my first bit of advice is to make sure we are not behaving like bots because my advice is…IGNORE ALL BOTS, including Author Bots. This approach is lazy and selfish and there is no need to repay that approach or encourage it. Plenty of authors find time to be authentic. If James Rollins, Bob Mayer, and Jane Friedman can do their own tweeting, so can we. People may not hear from us 53 times a day, but do they really need to? Or even want to? Just tweeting or posting a status update 1-3 times a day is more than sufficient to remain top of mind.

I will go so far as to even recommend that, when a bot follows you, report them as spam and block them. Spammers should be discouraged as often as possible. Nobody gets a free ride in life, and, if we have to work hard for what we want, then the spammers should too.

As a caveat, though. I use a zero tolerance approach with obvious bots. @FreePorn is now following you. If a fellow writer acts like a bot, it is up to us to watch out for our creative brethren who’ve been led astray by misguided gurus. I would recommend following back just long enough to send a polite “Um, you have your digital skirt tucked in your digital pantyhose” message. Feel free to send them links to my blogs. Dr. Twuth is skilled at deprogramming bad social media cult influences.

Some writers are working hard to be “responsible little marketers,” and they really don’t know any better. We all make mistakes and we would all want to be treated with love and grace. Give it a day or two, and, if the offending behavior doesn’t stop, then feel free to wish them well and DM that you are unfollowing to “make room for real people.”

All the best,

Dr. Twuth

See how easy this is? Do you have a social media dilemma? Is someone making you crazy? Do you feel alone, afraid or unsexy? Leave your question in the comments or if you would like to maintain anonymity, e-mail Dr. Twuth at kristen at kristen lamb dot org. Just put GIVE ME THE TWUTH in the subject line.

I am about love and offering a human touch to this digital world. My Dr. Twuth identity is #MyWANA certified, or certifiable, I can’t recall which. But, hey, it’s free so if you don’t like my advice, I promise to give you 100% refund (There will be a $15.99 processing fee for said refund).

Let me, Dr. Twuth, help you out. Remember, the Twuth will set you free.

Tweet ya later!

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  1. #1 by E.J. Wesley on September 13, 2011 - 9:48 am

    Bots are the bane of my Twitter existence, so naturally I thought this was hilarious!

  2. #2 by susielindau on September 13, 2011 - 9:55 am

    I have a question about the #MyWANA Daily. I am honored that some of my posts have been chosen for it and wondered about the process of putting the Daily together. It seems that it has to be an article that has either been retweeted or recommended by a reader. It would be wonderful if you could shed some light on this Dr. Twuth!

  3. #3 by Leah Petersen on September 13, 2011 - 9:57 am

    This is very timely for me. I just haven’t been able to engage much in Twitter lately because my stream is too full and I don’t ever know what’s going on with the people I actually interact with. (Even using columns in TweetDeck or whatever.) So I’ve been aggressively culling people who fill my feed with nothing “social.”

    The occasional marketing or retweeting of others genuine efforts is one thing. Doing nothing but just puts clutter in my feed that I’ve started to tune out.

    Oh, and can we tell people to stop using services to generate lists of @names for #mm, #ww, #ff and whatever else we’ll come up with next. It’s nothing but clutter!

  4. #4 by Angela Wallace on September 13, 2011 - 10:06 am

    Thank you for this post. Because of it, I was able to not follow back a handful of new followers who definitely looked bot-like. I’d be afraid to report and block anyone. Like you said, some real people act like bots. So many times I’ve gotten DMs from new followers saying, “Thanks, now check out my book.” *headdesk* We’re not even on a first name basis yet. I feel like unfollowing them right away.

  5. #5 by Leah Petersen on September 13, 2011 - 10:09 am

    “So many times I’ve gotten DMs from new followers saying, “Thanks, now check out my book.” *headdesk* We’re not even on a first name basis yet. I feel like unfollowing them right away.”

    Angela,

    I do unfollow them. It’s a pretty good indicator of what you’re going to get from their tweets too.

  6. #6 by amyshojai on September 13, 2011 - 10:10 am

    Wow, I must be channeling my ‘inner Dr Twuth’ cuz I’ve started perusing the tweets of those who follow me to judge if I want to follow back or not. Great post!

    I’ve had similar “bad social moves” new friends on FaceBook and…sometimes being kind works and other times it gets you slapped. It’s a balancing act, indeed. I always enjoy your posts!

  7. #7 by Robert McKay on September 13, 2011 - 10:17 am

    I hate that people feel the need to follow everyone that follows them. I know Twitter has lists for sorting out who you want to listen to, but I don’t believe in following someone whose tweets you don’t care to read.

    Once you get to the point where you can’t read a large portion of the tweets in your feed then I think you need to start cutting back. Just my two cents.

  8. #8 by Les Howard on September 13, 2011 - 10:38 am

    When someone follows me, first thing I do is click on their twitter profile and check their page of latest tweets. Pay attention to the post times/dates and the types of posts. It’s usually obvious if it’s a bot.

  9. #9 by Naty Matos on September 13, 2011 - 10:50 am

    Hilarious, you had me at genetically enhanced Chia Pet!! But this is very true. I have friends in marketing lines of business recommending I use some of those tools,but I’ve already been very well indoctrinated. I did one single message message using tweetdeck (posting in fb and twitter) and the condemnation didn’t let me live. I just wanted to know how it worked, I promise! *hangs head in shame*

    Anyway, yes bots are annoying. I usually look through people’s tweets before deciding to follow. Another great post!

  10. #10 by Anne R. Allen on September 13, 2011 - 11:11 am

    Thanks for this! I do report real bots for spam, but I’m always torn when an author is spamming about his book. If his tweet stream has anything real, I’ll follow, but if it’s all “buy my book”, I don’t. But I feel sad because I think a lot of spammy writers are following the advice of their publishers and agents and other marketing people who don’t get it. It’s like showing up at a cocktail party and trying to sell life insurance to all the guests–shoving your business cards in their pockets. Creepy.

  11. #11 by educlaytion on September 13, 2011 - 11:12 am

    Most real people are easily identified as are straightforward bots. The ones that really annoy are when you have to figure it out because they do just enough human interaction. It’s extremely annoying nevertheless, kind of like all the DMs coming through when my real human friends get spammed! “You won’t believe this hilarious picture I found of you!” You’re right, I won’t.

  12. #12 by Wayne Borean on September 13, 2011 - 11:33 am

    I love it! Well said Kristen.

    One suggestion I’d like to add. If you see an article that really grabs you, like this one, don’t retweet it. Write your own tweet, in your own words.

    Wayne

    • #13 by Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson on September 13, 2011 - 12:10 pm

      I agree with Wayne. That said, I only just learned how to do this on my iPhone via TweetDeck. It was invisible until — one day — I accidentally swept my hand across the screen and a secret door magically opened to reveal something underneath: hidden commands that would allow me to alter the original tweet. Who knew? So I apologize to anyone I coldly retweeted without adding a little sumthin-sumthin. I didn’t know my phone could do that. But now I do.

  13. #14 by Cheryl Sonnier on September 13, 2011 - 12:30 pm

    Excellent advice. I’m afraid I’m a little cold. I’ll follow anyone back who follows me but if their tweets are all links to their blog and their books all the time, they’re gone. I don’t mind updates – I always tweet my own blog updates. Once in a day, maybe again the next day. But if that’s all they do then out they go.

  14. #15 by alicamckennajohnson on September 13, 2011 - 1:28 pm

    Great post I have column on tweet deck labeled ‘new peeps’ I scan it but don;t read it- and peole who are bots never make it past that label. And I have blocked and reported some before.

  15. #16 by lynnkelleyauthor on September 13, 2011 - 2:04 pm

    Thank you, Dr. Twuth for more great advice.

    I am having a bad Twitter day. I finally added an AdobeAir app update to TweetDeck, but it said it couldn’t verify TweetDeck blah, blah, blah and wanted access to my personal info. I clicked “Deny,” just to be cautious. So I ended up with a blank TweetDeck. Took awhile to figure out how to get it back.

    Then I found a Direct Message from “MomCat_Reviews” and the message says she “Uses TrueTwit validation service. To validate, click here,” and then there’s a link to click on. Well, I already know those kinds of links are usually from a hacker and have a virus. So I tried to send MomCat_Reviews a DM asking if she sent that Tweet and telling her I think her account might have been hacked. When I tried to send the tweet, I got a message saying, “Recipient Not Following You.” I thought someone had to be a follower to send a DM. Is that correct? And since the tweet won’t go through, I suspect a hacker sent this, and I wonder how they were able to send a DM. Do you have any advice for us about Twitter hackers?

    Thanks, Dr. Twuth.
    Hoping For Better Tweet Days

  16. #17 by CC MacKenzie on September 13, 2011 - 2:23 pm

    Hey Dr Twuth

    I have a column on tweetdeck to scan ‘new followers’ to see if I want to follow them back or block them if they’re obviously bots or worse. In the past couple of days I’ve had authors be lovely, build a tentative relationship and then ask me to ‘buy’ their book and they would be ‘honoured’ if I left a review for them on Amazon. For two days my finger has hovered over dm button to tell them what I thought of the behaviour or the block button. Today, I’m politely dming them with a link to this post.

    I don’t follow anyone who wants a validation.

    • #18 by lynnkelleyauthor on September 13, 2011 - 2:28 pm

      Good going, CC! Perfect timing to send them this post!

      • #19 by CC MacKenzie on September 13, 2011 - 2:55 pm

        Thanx Lynne, I’m sending only positive vibes out there today. And I hope Kristen doesn’t mind, but I found this amazing blog post about John Locke and why the blogger finds him awesome. It’s all about John’s behaviour on social media, especially about blogging and tweeting and fits in brilliantly with our Dr Twuth. http://simplestrategies.me/

        I tweeted the link along with this post in the hope that others read it and learn.

        • #20 by lynnkelleyauthor on September 13, 2011 - 5:07 pm

          Thanks for the link, CC. I’ll definitely check it out.

    • #21 by Angela Wallace on September 19, 2011 - 1:30 pm

      I tried politely sending this post to someone. They weren’t interested. They said I’m the only one who has ever said anything about their methods, so it must just be my personal issue and suggested I unfollow them. I thought that was a shame.

      • #22 by CC MacKenzie on September 19, 2011 - 5:09 pm

        Gosh, Angela,

        You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. I suppose the best thing to do is to lead by example. All I can say is that it definately works by giving rather than receiving, in some unusual ways too.

        xx

  17. #23 by M.E. Anders on September 13, 2011 - 2:47 pm

    I’m really looking forward to this new feature, Kristen. I confess that I mistakenly acted like a “bot” when I first joined Twitter, since I hearkened to the voice of the “marketing gurus.” Now, I may do less tweeting, but it’s really me.🙂

  18. #24 by Marcy Kennedy on September 13, 2011 - 2:57 pm

    I can’t remember who it was now, but I saw a great line from one of the #MyWANA people last week about how they delete non-followers because clearly they’re not in it for the community. She said it much better than I did. (I wish now I’d favorited the tweet.)

    But what really stuck with me about that was the same thing that you’ve said before about community. Everything we do in social media needs to be about others (even if it just means helping them by providing interesting links or RTing others’ posts). Spam bots and people who don’t follow back other real people are in it for themselves. (It’s one of the reasons I actually hate the whole Klout score thing. Feels so self-serving.)

    • #25 by lynnkelleyauthor on September 13, 2011 - 5:04 pm

      So if we “favorite” a tweet, it saves it? I was afraid to try it. What’s the Klout score? There’s no end to learning all this stuff, is there? Thanks for any help. Sometimes I feel so clueless, but I’m learning lots from Kristen’s posts, slowly but surely.

      • #26 by Catherine Johnson on September 13, 2011 - 6:38 pm

        Where is the favourited tweet saved so you can find it? gosh you don’t just learn awesome on this blog you learn awesome in the comments too🙂

        • #27 by Shelley Kon on September 14, 2011 - 3:43 pm

          In the black bar up top click “Profile” . From the Profile page, look down below your info on the left and you will see little tabs beginning with “Tweets” – run your cursor to the right of that to highlight “Favorites” and click on it😉 Viola – Favorites list!

  19. #28 by Jennifer Groepl (@JenGroepl) on September 13, 2011 - 3:26 pm

    Great post! I use Tweet Deck to categorize, but it’s still hard with all the links, links, links…. I find many interesting things from the links, but I also see many people just retweeting and repeatedly posting the same stuff by the same people. Like you say, it’s a turn off when it reaches a certain level.

  20. #29 by Catherine Johnson on September 13, 2011 - 6:40 pm

    I can hardly find all my friends either when i finally get a twitter moment, so I’m off to sneak up on the spammers and water blast them lol🙂

  21. #30 by Jess Witkins on September 13, 2011 - 9:27 pm

    I see what you mean about authors who act like bots. I always get a little sad when I follow someone and then get that auto message: “Thanks for the follow, if you like me, buy my book!” Well, I don’t know you yet. Where are your blog posts, writer links, actual conversations?! Great post. I’ve been trying to screen my new followers too.

  22. #31 by Sadie Hart on September 14, 2011 - 10:34 am

    I hate the ones that act normal, until they get their first book out. Then that’s all their twitter feed is… Buy my book, buy my book, buy my book. Nothing makes me unfollow faster.

  23. #32 by Shelley Kon on September 14, 2011 - 3:39 pm

    I try to follow all authors that follow me but I do take a peak first at their most recent tweets – if they scream “Me, me, me or Buy, buy, buy” I pass. I don’t remove people for not following me as I follow people because they have great tweets – unfollowing because they didn’t return the favor is silly as I lose access to really great stuff!

    To the reference up there ^^ re: favorites, I use this feature a lot to save post I want to read but do not have the time – lest they get lost in the timeline/search/list.

  24. #33 by Caroline Clemmons on September 15, 2011 - 10:47 am

    You are so funny! And I am going to go unfollow the author who posts 15 boasts for her book a day and maybe a couple of actual tweets. Now she has friends posting about her book too. Enough already! If I wanted the #$%^ book, I’d have bought it by now.

  25. #34 by Chloe on September 18, 2011 - 10:22 am

    Porn spam is an instant block and report. Never be afraid to do that.

    There’s a steep learning curve to twitter.

    Dr. Twuth, what’s the difference between simply being gregarious and making people feel like you’re a creepy weirdo? How do you know what the balance is? I’m very gregarious, but I’m always afraid that somebody might be weirded out so I end up saying nothing most of the time.

  26. #35 by Marilag Lubag on September 19, 2011 - 1:04 am

    Thank you for this advice, Kristen. It seems that bots seem to crop up in Twitter a lot.

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