More recently, Elon Musk warned Twitter that he would stop buying the platform if it could not provide data on fake accounts. To a casual onlooker it may seem a bit confusing. After all, Twitter encourages users to create authentic profiles. So what are those fake accounts on social media?
Most, if not all, of these accounts are run by social media bots. If even bots can be the number one dealbreaker for Musk, it’s hard to overstate their impact. What are social media bots, how can you use them for good intentions and some other are all great questions which we will explain here.
Defining Social Media Bots
A social media bot (or simply social bot) is computer software designed to automate various, often repetitive tasks on social media platforms. There are many bots outside of social media, for example, crawler bots are used by search engines to index pages. However, bots are on the rise in popularity on social media platforms.
Social media bots can share and like content, follow users, and even have basic conversations in comments or private messages. They are most widespread on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, but can also be found in forums, message channels, and blogs.
These bots are often programmed to mimic human behavior. This is done not only to fool the humans they are interacting with, but also to avoid suspicion from the platforms in which they operate. Social media platforms don’t want bots because they put unnecessary load on sites and can be used to spread misinformation or spam.
However, we should not confuse social bots with spam bots as this is only one use case. Additionally, posting the same information over and over again is not the most efficient use of social media bots. Many influencers and marketers, for example, use them to automate tasks and help manage multiple profiles.
For this purpose, social bots include chat functionalities. But while they can interact, they are primarily not designed for it. There are chatbots that are software designed to automate human conversations, but they are often integrated into apps or customer service software.
Where are social media bots used?
Social media bots are just like any other tool – they can do good in some hands and evil in others. It all depends on the users intent, which no one can fully control. Nevertheless, the malicious use of bots is heavily exploited by the platforms.
That being said, we will focus on the uses where social media bots do well. This is a more promising trend, expected to grow in the future, while the fight by social platforms against spamming or misinformation will continue.
- notifications. Social bots can provide automated messages informing about news, posts, comments, or almost anything that happens on a social media platform. Manually scanning social media sites and keeping up with changes would require a lot of resources.
- lead generation, Social bots can capture leads by sending simple welcome messages or engaging in longer conversations with potential customers. This saves time for the sales teams as they do not need to interact with every potential lead, which could number in the millions.
- task automation, If you need to manage multiple social media accounts, logging into each one of them is time consuming. Since tasks are quite repetitive, bots can perform similar tasks concurrently across multiple accounts. It saves a lot of time and money for the marketers.
- data collection, Finding successful growth strategies in social media requires collecting and analyzing a lot of data. Social bots can easily render this for you – all that is left is to optimize the actions accordingly.
Types of Social Bots
While there is no classification that everyone agrees on, it is useful to note some variations. The most obvious is between ready-to-use bots and those that advanced users program themselves. Ready-to-use bots are more popular and do not require any technical knowledge.
Most social media bots only work with specific platforms, while others can connect to multiple platforms simultaneously. The choice depends on your needs and budget. Here are a few examples.
- GramDominator is a bot that works exclusively with Instagram. Its developers have created separate tools for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.
- Jarvi provides a solution to automate multiple platforms in one place.
Both the bots mentioned above are fully automated, which means the tools execute their tasks without human intervention. All you have to do is manage it in the dashboard. Other social media bots are semi-automated – the bot only completes part of the tasks, while other tasks are performed using click farms.
Why is it hard to use bots?
Even if you are using bots for completely legitimate purposes and do not intend to deliver spam or misinformation, you will still have to overcome some challenges. Social media platforms do not differentiate between intent, so all accounts using bots are at equal risk of getting banned.
Social media platforms use tactics of monitoring IP addresses of visitors. IP addresses can be banned if they notice that a user is violating their terms with multiple accounts or automated bot activity.
The only effective strategy is to hide your IP address with a proxy server. They stand between your bot and website, so the IP is changed and hidden. Every major bot provider recommends using a proxy with their products and allows integration with the proxy server of your choice.
There is much more to learn about social media bots, so we won’t be able to cover everything here. We recommend continuing on to other articles on what is a social media bot, such as this one: https://metrow.com/blog/what-is-a-social-media-bot/
Social media bots are most famous for their negative influence, even affecting the valuation of companies like Twitter. However, they are not only used for illegal purposes and often help companies and influencers. If you find yourself at a loss online, it’s time to start thinking about getting a social media bot.