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Could a bot Twitter?

June 5, 2008

Texting on a keyboard phone

Image via Wikipedia

Can software be social?

What if a big company decided to make a Twitter feed of every single brand that existed under its umbrella. Lets say it was P&G, for argument’s sake (they aren’t a client in any way).

Now lets say they grabbed a feed for every brand, and even the sub brands. So Tide got a Twitter feed and so did Tide with bleach. They would have a lot of Twitter feeds. But then, they would also have a lot of news about P&G, about updates, about blog posts. What if they could invent a reader (a sort of google spider-like thing ) that scrolled brand/news RSS feeds looking for things that were 140 characters or less to Tweet about?

In theory, it could work. Code could be written that would find 140 strings of thoughts that had certain key words that could be updated weekly, that could result in Twitter feeds.

But would it work in practice? Would it be recognizable as a bot? I don’t know the answer. I think on Twitter, especially, it would be harder to recognize a bot. The language of Twitter is the language of text messaging — with some twists. The limitations of text messaging were laziness. BRB is used for be right back because it’s easier to type. On Twitter, the limitation is that finite number of characters. So instead of the laziness, we have a focus. And machines can focus really well. They can find strings of 140 characters that can work as Tweets.

And the language does get a little machine-like. “My blog post.” “Hired new person at [company].” “Tide used to get stain out.”

Without the need to use ‘is’, or ‘that’, or other words that add conversation to the tone, Tweets sound a little machine-like already. Maybe enough that a bot could pretend to be a person for brands?

FYI: I’m writing this blog post using Zemanta. The image is suggested and the links below are as well.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2008 12:14 pm

    Absolutely, this is a possibility, and I think it’s a valid use of the tool. Since you must follow, and by that also un-follow if unwanted, your brand could create a twitter feed that would enhance the brands perception.

    Let’s say wordpress takes all the kudos’s and trims and marks them for distribution. Someone could right a bot to go through the list and post a tweet every 20 minutes, talking about how great wordpress was.

    Only true wordpress freaks would follow, but isn’t that the point. Validation is sweet!

  2. June 5, 2008 1:31 pm

    Tim, I think it would be a valuable tool for the right brand. Like poker playing bots, I think this is a thing that could make people more weary. but then, they do have to choose to follow right? Maybe if you told people they were following a bot, it wouldn’t matter?

  3. June 5, 2008 2:31 pm

    I’m following the MARS rover bot (yes I know it’s some mission specialist somewhere in the world) but I choose to get information related to this work. They actually post as if it’s the rover sending tweets from mars.

    If the information is valuable, they will follow. I don’t think it matters who posts. I would love to have a bot that collects the gas prices at the pumps in a 30 mile radius of my home or work, I really don’t care who feeds twitter, I would love to have the information show up on my web enabled phone throughout the day!

  4. June 5, 2008 5:34 pm

    Oh and I forgot to mention I posted about some Twitter Business Ideas that implied the use of bots:

    Just wondering what your thoughts are on them.

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