In a recent blog post Jeff Bullas describes how to use an internet tool to generate and post automatic RTs from selected Twitter participants. Is Jeff Bullas a BOT?
According to Wikipedia bots are “software applications that run automated tasks over the Internet.” The most important task of a social media participant is sharing and spreading content. Auto-RTs perform the most important Twitter function: I would say that @jeffbullas is in fact a bot!
However, as most of you likely know, Jeff Bullas is also a celebrated blogger. I read Jeff’s blog regularly and recently read his book on Blogging. As Jeff relates in his book, he views Twitter primarily as a tool to publicize and distribute his blog articles. This may be why I have always found his blog content compelling but his twitter persona less engaging then other excellent bloggers like @markwschaefer and @ckburgess.
So Jeff Bullas may be a Twitter BOT, but is a terrific social media contributor through his blog and other writing.
Authentic or BOT?
What separates an authentic social media participant from a BOT? Some participants such as Mark Schaefer, writer of the excellent blog Grow and social media guide The Tao of Twitter, seem to indicate that authenticity means using no automatic tools for creating or timing posts or managing followers. In one post Mark described how he spent as much time screening followers as people to follow. (However, he has mentioned using assistants to help him, which raises the question of whether outsourcing is more authentic than automating…)
We are all cyborgs!
I watch tweets from specialized Twitter lists on Hootsuite and collect blog updates via RSS feeds on Google Reader, but I consider it important to read every tweet and every link before I retweet them. So I consider by twitter output to be fully authentic, even though I had help assembling the information.
However I do time my posts using bufferapp. And I use software to selectively follow-back people on twitter. I use other software to double-check the earlier follow decisions. I do not screen who follows me unless I see something offensive in my feed. So others with different standards might accuse me of being too automatic. (I even confess to something that many consider a cardinal sin: I send a single one-time-only DM to new Twitter followers promoting my blog… it seems to increase blog followers, even though a get an occasional hate note.)
I argue that we are all cybergs – part human and part auto – at least most of us who are active on social media. But we must continue to consider what authenticity means, to retain our social media soul. To me authenticity means that my content is mine.
What do you think???