What’s a Twitter Bot For Anyhow?

Not a twitter bot

In two blog posts (here and here) I explained how easy it is to create a Twitter bot (with no programming at all) that would automatically post links (with hashtags) and images. As I wrote the posts, I created a Fake Kayne West bot during the process who has been up and running now for about a week, mostly tweeting about himself.

He’s not the most exciting bot in the whole world, but, hey it was just an example.

Gain Followers

It wasn’t explicitly stated in the past few posts, but one of the objectives is for your new bot to gather a following. And it can be done! Most of my bots have more followers than I do.

A few weeks ago, I was excited that my Twitter follower count finally eclipsed that of my bot Aristotele Onagio. But then due to his aggressive use of photos in his Twitter stream, he shot way ahead of me.

CRM hourly news

My most successful bot to date, CRMHourlyNews, has just about 2,300 followers. The average number of followers that a Twitter account has is supposedly 200, so I figure, that 2,000+ is pretty good.

There are some uses for Twitter bots with few followers, but it’s a a lot less fun.

Increase Your Tweet Counts

Let’s say you’re a blogger, toiling away writing blog posts about CRM. It can be gratifying and motivating to see the number of tweets (and +1’s, Likes, etc.) growing on your work.

honig blog

What you might not know is that if you (or your WordPress administrator) changes the URL structure in any way, all those counters reset to zero! Now, that’s really uncool.

So, one thing you can use your bot for is to raise those tweet counters.

Sure, you can log in as Fake Kayne West and hit the “tweet” button like 1,000 times, but what’s the fun in that.  (Twitter, by the way, won’t let you do that either.) And if you’re bot is trying to build a following, sending out 1,000 tweets about “Dark Cockpit CRM” is likely to scare most of your followers away.

But if you had an army of bots — or perhaps just a division or two of them — you could use the same techniques that we described to auto-tweet about Kanye to auto-tweet about these blog posts that have lost their counters.

By following Amit Agarwal’s very well done example, you can create RSS feeds from any of your Twitter Bots. Using this newly generated RSS feed, you can then link your bots together, using this technique:

  1. Create the RSS feed for Bot 1
  2. Create the RSS feed for Bot 2
  3. Log into Bot 1’s Twitterfeed account and have Bot 1 autotweet Bot 2’s feed. (For more on using RSS feeds to generate posts, this see my first post on creating a Twitter bot.)
  4. Now do the same for Bot 2.

You need to be a bit careful with this, depending on your RSS feed. You want your Twitter bot to post a link to the source material, not the link to the re-posted tweet itself.  I don’t recommend Twitterfeed for this activity; use IFTTT, and make sure your bots are posting only the {{EntryContent}}.

And you must turn it off manually – don’t forget about it, otherwise the eye in the sky might have something to say.

Will This Help the SEO Rankings of My Posts?

Frankly, I’m not really sure. I’ve done a bit of looking around, and no-one can really say if having a lot of tweets associated with a blog post in any way makes it rank higher in Google’s search algorithm.

The links in Twitter are of the “nofollow” type which is supposed to mean that they don’t carry any weight for Google, but this guy thinks that they might.

Besides the importance to Google of these tweet counts, how will it impact reader behavior? Is a reader more inclined to read an article because it has 5,000 tweets? I’m not sure, but if I was forced to guess, I’d sure say “yes”.

Find Followers and Prospects

Perhaps more interestingly, if you build your Twitter bot properly, it can be used to help you and your business, school, band, team, etc., attract more high quality followers.

Let’s pretend for a minute that we’re a food store that sells high quality cheese, like Formaggio Kitchen in Boston and Cambridge. Here is how using a twitter bot like Aristotele Onagio could help them.

First of all, Aristotele tweets about cheese and Italian food, but also tweets enough about Italian politics, football and random stuff.  He looks enough like a real person that the BBC contacted him on Twitter to ask him to do a radio interview!

Odds are that the people who follow Aristotele are also into cheese and food. If Formaggio Kitchen’s Twitter account were to follow Aristotele’s followers, odds are that they will follow back… and they would be good prospects for the fine goods sold at Formaggio.

(Just to be clear, Formaggio Kitchen looks to be doing an excellent job on Twitter and certainly doesn’t need my or Aristotele’s help, but I’m just using this as an example.)

Using the above mentioned approach, the CRM consulting firm I started and ran for many years doubled our follower count on Twitter in about three months.

And That’s Not All

There are also a whole host of jokes and really annoying things you can also use your bots to do, especially if the people that you’re interested in engaging with don’t know that you’re a bot master.

But I’ll leave that for another post.

Meanwhile, go and create some bots, and see how many followers you can get.