We’ve Got a Serious Problem With Bots in Social Media Marketing

Lately, there’s been a lot of hand-wringing over the drop in Facebook usage. And while the big blue network is definitely priority number-one for most people when it comes to social media marketing, I think a much bigger issue is lying in the weeds.


By now, you probably read the New York Times piece calling out Devumi and a long list of celebrities who bought Twitter followers over the years. That piece has already led to some key moves by Twitter.

And, earlier this week, the New York Times was at it again–this time talking about bots and their impact on another social media platform, Instagram.

Anecdotally, I’ve had a couple conversations with clients in the last few weeks about the legitimacy of accounts and people on Facebook who have “liked” our content on an ad we posted. Just like Twitter and Instagram, many of these accounts seem fishy at best.

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Yep, bots are becoming a big problem in social media marketing. And, I think it’s about to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

And for us, as brand marketers and communicators, I think there’s a few things we should be doing in the meantime.

First, it’s probably high-time to start looking at your audience make up on social media platforms, if you haven’t done this already. That means checking your Facebook Insights for red flags in the audience pane. It means spot checks on your Facebook and Instagram ads for accounts that fit the audience you’re targeting. Warning: This will be time-consuming, but you will also get much smarter about the make-up of your audience by taking these steps.

Another area of work this impacts in a big way: Influencer marketing. In a world where follower counts are (almost) everything, you need to be more careful than ever with your influencer plans. Before engaging with any kind of influencer, make sure you do your due diligence. Spot check your influencers followers on the social media platforms where they’re most active. Make sure it’s made up of real people–and real people who are in your target audience. If you’re already working with the influencer, check their posts and see who’s liking and commenting on those posts. Again, make sure they fit your target audience profile. I know I sound like a broken record, but this isn’t easy work either. It’s going to take time. But, effective social media marketing is time-consuming. There are no shortcuts. You want to do great work? You need to put in great effort.

Finally, Twitter, Insta and Facebook are networks where bots seems to be somewhat rampant right now. But, you know what network isn’t over-flowing with bots? LinkedIn! Why? Because it’s full of actual people and their professional resumes. Much tougher to fake that than a Twitter bio. I’m not saying you should suddenly switch course and start investing in LinkedIn. What I am saying is LinkedIn has long been a hugely under-utilized social platform, especially when it comes to B2B and professional circles. If you’ve been thinking about spending more time on LinkedIn, maybe this is just the kick in the pants you needed.


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