Have you seen this article on TechCrunch describing how and why brands will soon try to automate social media responses? I just read it and it makes me a bit furious. Many companies, especially large ones, already go out of their way to make it as difficult as humanely possible to contact a real, live human being to talk to. Why? Obviously because they don’t care about their customers as much as their advertising would have you believe.
So, big brands (and small brands if you’re dumb enough to try it), here’s a promise and a prediction. If you begin automating social media responses, I promise to quit using your product. I also promise to raise a huge stink about it. I also predict that other people will rebel in a big way if this becomes widespread.
A decade ago companies could automate systems (like phones) to their hearts content because people didn’t have a voice. There was no way someone could ring the alarm. If a company wanted to ignore you it could. I don’t think that’s the case in this day and age. Anyone can take to Twitter and Facebook and let their friends, and the public, know what injustices have occurred.
As I’ve said before, consumers complaining on Twitter is a good thing. It holds companies accountable in a way that was never possible before and smart companies respond well and make unhappy customers happy and probably polish their image pretty nicely in the process.
And it’s the smart brands that won’t take part in automating social media responses. It’s just good for business. You have to focus on your customers and making them happy or your business is headed south. Brands should consider responding to customers through social media (complaints or anything else) as marketing rather than customer service.
Not all automation is evil. I don’t have a problem with scheduling posts. That’s smart (although in a perfect world, I wish it didn’t exist to keep social media as pure as can be). Where I have a problem is with the introduction of “automated proactive responses” and “human-like relationships” because I don’t want to be brushed off or placated. I want to talk to a real person who can solve my problems and who makes me feel like the company gives a crud.
What’s the bottom line in my opinion? Don’t do it brands. It’s not worth it and you’re going to make people mad. If you’re hoping that automated social media responses will just become the norm and consumers will get used to it… don’t bet on it.
What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know.