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There’s a vitriolic war raging about Twitter and what it means to have “true connection” through social media. On one side are guys like Scott Stratten from @unmarketing who makes his no-automation-is-good-automation views pretty clear.

On the other side are scores of software applications promising rapid growth of followers and influence with hands-off automation. Today, I want to tackle this head-on for two reasons:

  1. I’ve got some vitriolic views of my own.
  2. I think there is a level of Twitter automation that can maximize ROI and keep you from being a social media douchebag.

But first, another dose of social media cold water on the groin.


And I say it’s bullshit for pretty obvious reasons – when you and I “connect” on Twitter, we’re not really connecting.

  • You’re not at my house.
  • We’re not laughing over a beer.
  • We’re giving each other surface-level networking.

It’s a step below small talk. And it’s great. It’s fabulous even! Don’t get me wrong, I love that we can do even that and I’ve written plenty about the power of Twitter and what a big fan I am of it for small and solo businesses.

But let’s be clear here, true connection this ain’t. And when it comes to arguments against automation, the one I hear the most often is the “Cocktail Party” argument If you wouldn’t do it face-to-face at a cocktail party, don’t do it on Twitter.

And I like that, it’s common sense. You wouldn’t introduce yourself and pitch your shit all in the same breath, would you? (God, I hope you answered no.) So of course you wouldn’t do it on Twitter either. I do, however, have one small problem here:


There are some similar aspects inherent in the system, sure, but we can see pretty clearly that there are two very distinct sides to Twitter: Side A is the side of connection – it’s the party-ish side where we all get to know each other.

Side B, on the other hand, is the broadcasting side – the microblogging side where your followers sign up to read what you have to say. Now I admit… Automating personal connection is totally lame – more to the point, it’s rude and insulting.

I don’t encourage anyone to use automation tools like auto-following or auto-direct messaging. But… Automating the broadcasting side of your Twitter feed is a different story.

Apps like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that allow you to pre-schedule your tweets have been ripped to shreds by many of the “no automation” opponents, but let me ask you this: What could be wrong with automating when you send out hand-picked links and blog posts?

If you were handing out flyers for a garage sale in your neighborhood, would you stand outside at 4 am? That would be dumb. People out at 4 am are few and far between and most of them probably aren’t interested in a garage sale.


That’s where I think apps like Timely could become wickedly effective. Timely analyzes your Twitter activity and schedules your tweets to be sent out when they will be most effective.

Whether this really works or not is up for debate and I’m testing it for myself as we speak, but I see nothing wrong with smart scheduling, in fact, it’s just good practice for you and your audience. I do want to point out though that automating the time that tweets are sent is good business, but automating what you tweet is not.

Choosing links and blog posts you’ve never read to share at random shows a lack of respect for your followers. So we start to see that to automate Twitter without being a total douche, you have to automate the areas in which automation is best for your audience.

Use apps like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Timely and WordPress plugins like Tweet Old Post to get your message out there when your followers are actually listening. And when the time comes for you to be on Twitter – actually be on Twitter. Show up and be there to interact, talk and (yeah, yeah, yeah) connect.

Is it true automation? No. Is it 100% human connection? No. But I think it’s the middle ground where Twitter ROI becomes a real, tangified metric. I’m continuing to test this approach now just to double check that my money’s where my mouth is, but I encourage you to do the same.

Don’t just blindly tweet. Don’t just take advice from social media “experts” and assume it applies to you.

Test everything for yourself and find what connects (there’s that damn word again!) with your audience. Then you can say you know what’s really effective and why. Oh, and while you’re at it, you should probably follow me on Twitter. You know, as a test!