Do you do Twitter in person? I'm not talking about scheduling tweets via Hootsuite and Tweetdeck - for a busy person who only gets to use Twitter at the weekends, this makes sense. I'm talking about the 'bots' that do the the RTs for you as well, and who, in effect, have control over your profile.
You've seen those tweets tweets saying "Use @SomeCrapApp and make Twitter work better for you", or "Contributed tweets for @PersonWhoCan'tBeArsed are delivered by @SomeDumbRobot, and various other similar statements.
Please, please DON'T be tempted to sign up for these things.
I don't know exactly how they work, but I believe that if you sign up for them, they RT tweets from the users you nominate. Certain words or hashtags can be nominated, too. Your chosen robot will RT something by them every hour, or whatever - but it can't discriminate between promotional tweets and conversation. The other morning I noticed that 27 people (sorry, not people - I mean profiles worked by @SomeCrapApp) had RTd me saying 'thank you' to someone. If you sign up, at least half the tweets it RTs for you will be conversational.
So who uses them? People who are trying to promote something. They think that if they do 200 RTs a day, all those people will RT them back, and therefore spread the word about their product far and wide. Sounds great, doesn't it? Free marketing, without you even lifting a finger. Yes, you're right - it's too good to be true.
These are the reasons why you shouldn't use retweeting apps:
- If your followers are constantly bombarded with pointless RTs, they are more likely to unfollow you than buy your product. Too many RTs is one of the main reasons profiles get unfollowed.
- If you are RTing someone's bits of random conversation, all you will do is annoy the person. You are unlikely to get an RT back. I never RT back the profiles who use these apps, even the ones who catch my promotional tweets, too. I know many others who don't. Many people block the users who are constantly RTing their conversation.
- Twitter is a social networking site. Marketing is about communication and interaction, not robotic advertising that isn't even targeted properly.
- If you are never actually on Twitter, but just use these apps, what if someone asks you something about your product? You won't know; before I understood what these things were, I thought they were just being rude when they didn't answer. They weren't - they just hadn't seen it. I, fool that I am, was just talking to @SomeCrapApp
How do you know if people use these things? When you look in their timeline they will have nothing but tweets by other people, with the occasional one saying "Contributed tweets provided by @SomeDumbRobot", or something like the ones I mentioned in the first paragraph. Worse - this isn't even a tweet sent out by the person, because they think that these apps are just so damn good they want to tell the world - @SomeCrapApp sends its own advertising tweets out along with yours. Look on their 'tweets and replies'. There will be no conversation.
I will just say one thing - I know that a few people who are very busy do use @SomeCrapApp to do some RTs, but still appear on Twitter to interact, answer messages, etc, so they can be forgiven for the occasional RT of me saying "Oh yes, I agree" to someone. This isn't about you!
There are some @SomeDumbRobot users who RT me several times a day, every day. Are they sitting there in their non-Twitterly homes, chuckling as they imagine all those people like me clicking on their profiles and spreading the word out to their (in my case) 42K followers about their super-duper products, while they sit back, watch the ball game and eat pizza? Well, I have news for you, oh robotic ones! I never RT you. You're spreading the word about me, that's all... except they're probably only spreading it to other @SomeCrapApp users, ie, no-one, as most of the 'real' people will have unfollowed them by now. All my Tweets twittering around all day, seen by nobody....as one writer friend said to me, if we're not careful Twitter will soon become robots retweeting robots to no-one. Which is why I'm writing this article!
Here's the good news!
If you still want to follow someone but don't want to see their retweets, just go to their page, and click on the little cog-like symbol next to 'following'. There, it gives you the option to turn the retweets off.
Remember - even if you can only spend 20 minutes a few times a week on Twitter, it is far, far better than churning out 200 robot RTs a day.