Research shows high levels of brands talking to Twitter bots, not customers
Professor of corporate communications and digital languages at Milan’s IULM University, Marco Camisani Calzolari, found that in some cases nearly half a company’s Twitter followers were bots.
The worst offenders were @DellOutlet. Out of its 1.5 million followers, the research found 46% of them to be non-human users, with a further 13.2% unquantifiable. Wholefoods, JetBlue and, Ikea and Vodafone Italia also had poor results.
Only companies with accounts followed by 10,000 people or more were considered in the experiment, and the results were made by awarding points for behaviour associated typically with humans, and points for behaviour typically associated with bots. These numbers were then crunched in an algorithm. Human behaviour included a profile containing a name, an image and a physical address, while bot behaviour included users only using APIs to tweet.
As the result above showed, Starbuck fared the best with nearly 70% of its 25, 291, 115 followers identified as human, and only 6.88% identified as bots.
Despite their poor showing, Dell remained defensive about its digital marketing strategy. Richard Binhammer, the company’s Social Media Relations manager told MediaBistro:
“We don’t control who follows any of our Twitter accounts and we don’t artificially increase the number of followers. In fact, paying third parties to undertake such action is contrary to our policy. While there are some tools that claim to identify bots, they are not 100 percent accurate. The only action we could take is to ‘block’ a follower. We certainly would not want to risk ‘blocking’ a potential customer. Our focus is on relationships and engagements with customers.”
The poor standing cannot be simply put down to a big tech firm like Dell being more likely to use key words that trigger bots to follow an account either, as Samsung Mobile and Sony PlayStation had only 10.57% and 11.61% of its following taken up by bots.
Furthermore, it is possible that the results are actually generous to Dell, as the report states that “the algorithm allowing “human” and “bot” points to be assigned was defined with very conservative parameters.”
Although further analysis may need to be done on a wider range of accounts for digital marketers to really start rethinking their strategy, the findings will no doubt be worrying. Brands to refocus on quality, not quantity, of digital engagement.
Download the full report here: MCC-Twitter-ENG