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The Downside of Using Bots on Your Social Media Accounts

Robots

More and more bots are making their way into social media. If your business is not already using them within your social media marketing strategies, you might be thinking about it. Could bots help you improve your social media goals?

While considering the pros of using bots, which there are plenty, it’s also smart to weigh the cons. Don’t worry, this won’t be all about the role of bots in the election. Let’s talk about the potential downside of using bots for your business social media marketing.

What’s the Problem With Bots?

Image via Flickr by mikemacmarketing

Bots can provide a lot of benefits when you use them on your company’s social media accounts. Yet they can lead to drawbacks, including:

A Disconnect With Consumers: The whole point of using social media as a business is to form and maintain connections with consumers. When bots are used poorly, they can ruin your connections. Imagine a bot that only serves to frustrate or annoy your followers. How about one that doesn’t actually help solve anything? This can happen when bots are not planned or programmed well.

False Popularity: Sometimes bots are used to create a higher number of followers and interactions with posts. So some of your followers will be fake ones. This is a problem because you’re misrepresenting your popularity. This tactic might come back to bite you someday if your real followers find out and you lose their trust and from crackdowns on fake accounts.

Also, this method won’t provide the best results in the long run. These bots will never buy your products. Plus, they only get in the way when you’re trying to determine your analytics and the social media techniques that work with your true audience.

Poor Reflections: Some tasks are better left to discerning humans, whereas a bot might go against your company’s brand. For example, a bot could retweet fake news or a message that your brand does not actually agree with because the message included a certain hashtag. As you can imagine, this pattern could affect your brand’s reputation.

Also, the more bots are allowed to take over tasks like retweeting and engaging with posts, the more they will contribute to platforms where it’s hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t. Bots have already impacted trending topics and swayed opinion. In the end, this type of practice could devalue social media and create distrust among your audience.

Overuse of Bots: With today’s bot technology, it’s most likely a mistake to rely too heavily on bots. Chatbots can handle simple interactions but shouldn’t replace customer service. Have them answer simple questions and guide customers with straightforward tasks, but don’t expect them to be able to interact with customers the same way a staff member would.

Attacking Competitors: It’s never hard to find technology being used in a disreputable way. Some individuals and companies have used bots in an attempt to harm competitors or someone they don’t like. This, of course, wouldn’t be a recommended strategy for a legitimate business.

What to Do Instead

Just because some methods of using bots are ineffective or even harmful doesn’t mean bots need to be avoided. This is a technology that can be used as a form of support within a broader social media marketing plan.

The main way to use bots effectively is to rely on chatbots to help your audience and supplement customer service. Use bots that are designed to provide support. It’s best to be open with your audience that you are using chatbots to assist them rather than pretending they’re being helped by a human.

Chatbots are able to answer simple questions rather than needing a person for this role. Beyond that, they can enhance the user experience by providing suggestions and guiding visitors.

Chatbots can take over in certain supportive roles, including:

  • Providing simple customer service
  • Offering targeted suggestions based on the user’s question, such as recommending the best product to fit the user’s criteria
  • Personalizing messages
  • Sending an automatic response when a user sends a message
  • Guiding the user through the sales process
  • Personalizing the shopping experience

If used correctly, chatbots can provide a better experience to your customers when previously they may have fallen through the cracks or received less-than-enthusiastic customer service from fellow humans.

These are some additional tips for handling the bot issue:

  • Chatbots should be effectively planned and programmed. For the best results, use AI (artificial intelligence) bots, which can adapt and have a conversation, rather than rule-based ones, which are more limited and less helpful.
  • Put effort into learning the kinds of questions your visitors would be likely to ask and the kinds of experiences that would help them. Then, develop chatbots that provide those services.
  • Continue to provide customer support from humans for more complex tasks and as a backup in case the chatbot annoys a customer or fails to meet their needs.
  • Continue to create unique, quality content to share on your social media accounts, such as posts that connect with your audience and linked blog posts.
  • Use resources like Statuspeople and Dovetale to find fake accounts that are following your pages. This can help you counteract false analytics, attacks from a competitor or detractor, and damage to your brand reputation from fake followers.

In the end, whether bots are a positive or negative addition to your business probably comes down to how you use them. It’s similar to SEO. There are black hat SEO tactics that are not respected or particularly effective over time, and then there are legitimate methods that help your business further its ultimate goals.

We’re almost at the point when using chatbots is common practice. An Oracle study of 800 senior professionals in sales and marketing found that 36 percent of brands are already using chatbots to interact with customers and 80 percent will be using bots by 2020. If you decide to get on board, make sure that the ways you use bots will benefit your business and its connections with your audience.

About the author

Sharon Therien

Sharon Therien is a freelance writer in Florida. She provides content and copy to support clients' marketing goals, and she studies digital marketing, especially inbound.