Confessions of an Organic Twitter Bot Maker

Valaria Onagio

You’ve probably read the articles about how many ‘bots there are on Twitter, right? Researchers have recently claimed that it could even be 1 in 10 accounts.

Most of the time, based on my own personal experience creating ‘bots, I suspect it’s more like 9 out of 10 accounts.

As you’ll see, my approach to creating bots is hand-crafted. There are Twitter bot factories out there (really!) that churn out the tweets and bots by the thousands or millions. That’s not me.

The Beginnings of My Botishness

Anyhow, my entry into Twitter ‘bot creation started when we needed an account for an April Fool’s Day blog post we were creating. Hence the Twitter account of Aristotele Onagio was born.

Using nothing more than Twitterfeed and the Google News RSS feed, this slightly more polished doppelganger spewed news of Berlusconi, Milan and Italian cheese. In no time, he had more twitter followers than me, and became somewhat of an authority on the changing Italian political scene:

bbc and onagio

With Aristotele going strong, I created the above pictured Valeria Onagio ‘bot whose profile description Amante del cibo, la cucina, i gatti e tutte le cose che indossano calze translates roughly into “a lover of food, cooking, cats and all things that are wearing stockings”.

Listed as the CFO of Onagio Software — no relation to Aristotele — her follower count quickly zoomed over 1,000.

Industry Specific Twitter Bots

CRM HourlyNews

Emboldened by my success, I created industry specific ‘bots, CRM Hourly News (“Every hour, almost on the hour bringing you the top stories from the world of Customer Relationship Management”) which has 2,200+ followers and Social Business Today (500+ followers).

CRM Hourly News seems to compete with ‘bots like Daryl Shaber (mostly RT’s about Salesforce.com) and BlissLogix (who also does mostly the same thing).

Hard to tell who is winning, but it’s amusing to watch the bots tweet at each other.

Slower Burns

Now, not all my bots have gone on to fame and fortune. My No Jerks twitter bot never really took off, despite interesting content.

I created a bot for my wife’s law firm, White & Associates, which only recently cracked 100 followers, which is quite low for 11,000 tweets!

Creating a bot seems to be more than generating tweets and hashtags.

What Next for the Bot Maker?

With the recent changes in Twitter, my bots have been trying to post more pictures, which seems to be a bit more complicated:

I’ve been using tools like IFTTT to help with this, along with Tumblr specific photo blogs, but what I’d really like to do is start writing some simple programs that talk directly to the Twitter API as described here in The New Yorker.

Unfortunately traveling around and my day job have been keeping me from taking this move. Perhaps I should just take a few days off to focus on this? Valeria would be pleased.

Learn More

Don’t just take my word for it, it’s easy to create bots. I wrote a few blogs describing how. Give it a try. Or instead you can also follow my Twitter list of my bots here: https://twitter.com/adamhonig/lists/social-friends, but watch out for Valeria’s images — she seems to be posting often inappropriate (and NSFW) pictures of people wearing stockings.

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