Automating Friendships

Friendship isn’t something that can appear by magic, API calls, or automated audience reports. It takes time listening, investing, responding.

Just like in real life.

This tweet is the inspiration for this post.

I know that I’ve talked about relationship marketing before. It takes time.

If we could automate friendship, there would be a lot fewer lonely people in this world.

The lure of automation

Automation is like the siren song to marketers luring them with promises of slick reports, extra time, and better insights. What they forget to tell you is that the rest of us can tell when something is automated.

There is no software that will replace authentic, real interaction between you and your customer.

Sure, you can send auto tweets thanking people, auto responders in emails, and even direct messages to people who followed you in the last ten seconds.

Here’s the thing: we know they’re not real. So, who are you really fooling?

Auto Direct Messages on Twitter

I’ve talked about this for years. People are convinced that they work. For me, it’s just one more thing to delete. It’s noise that drowns out legitimate messages.

If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d unfollow anyone who sent me one of these.

Read these two examples. If either one of them had bothered to really check me out, they would have known that I don’t like automation.

Automation and Curation

Look. Let’s be honest. I have tons of friends who use APIs, RSS feeds, and other kinds of automation. They choose the people they trust then load them into Buffer or whatever. That’s fine. If you’re sure that all of the content is something you feel comfortable tweeting, posting, etc., then do it — with my blessing.

Curating content is hard. I admit it. It means I read. It means I interact with people. I trust instinct, gut, and messaging.

I’ve talked about it before. I curate content by curating people. I make friends, put them on Twitter Lists, and read their tweets. If their blog post, video, etc. is something that I agree with, then I will share it on the appropriate social network.

Hybrid Approach

Like most things in life, hybrid solutions are usually best. Of course, I schedule some tweets. What I don’t do is auto schedule based on an RSS feed or a hashtag or a keyword.

I don’t tweet things I don’t read. Why? Because I am responsible for ensuring that the things shared for a brand do not conflict with their messaging. No app can do that.

So, how do I make friends online?

You talk to people.

You can start with asking questions. You can reply to tweets. Take two weeks and spend ten minutes a day on Twitter actually talking to people. Read tweets. Get to know what the person likes.

We call this providing value.

You can also share their posts.

You can comment on their blogs.

You can step outside of your own world and read other people’s content.

Invest in people and they’ll invest in you.

This has been my experience.

I believe it can be yours, too.



11 responses to “Automating Friendships”

  1. Preach it, Bridget!! I’m a firm believer of real person-to-person interaction (and honestly can’t stand automated replies, DM’s , etc…) If I’m interacting with someone on twitter, it’s because I am interested in connecting with them personally and I always hope for the same in return 🙂

    This is great advice – “Take two weeks and spend ten minutes a day on Twitter actually talking to people.” – I hope more people will follow it!

  2. Love your philosophy of ‘curating content by curating people’ … relationships are THE most important thing in life and we don’t get anywhere if we don’t take the time to stop and relate to others, whether on social media, by phone, or face-to-face! 🙂

  3. Another winning blog post! Yes, Yes Yes! Building relationships is the corner stone of social media. You have to give to receive. I have been thinking about blogging about this very topic! I don’t receive as many automated messages anymore on Twitter and I am thankful for that! I was NEVER a fan! Automation has it’s place for certain things but you can’t build relationships and cultivate your community without actually reading, replying, and sharing!


  4. Hi Bridget,

    I laughed when I read your two examples because I got the same two messages! (“I really think you can benefit…” and “thanks for the recent follow.”) So what does that say? It says that their resumes should say that they know how to cut and paste, or automate using whatever tool they’re using this season.

    Thanks for keeping it real.

    Your friend (in real life!),