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But, according to a study out of Indiana University and the University of Southern California, there could be as many as 47.9 million bots on Twitter. That's roughly 15 percent of Twitter's 319 million active monthly users, which means one out of every seven people you interact with on Twitter might not be people after all.
For many, this is alarming. What's the point of social media, some wonder, if we can't indeed be social? Of course, that's assuming that social interactions have to be human-to-human, but is that the only way we should define them?
Lately between entrepreneurship, speaking, writing and more, I admit I wasn't finding the time I needed to re-post content, share the valuable content of others, share my eBook, engage with new followers and more.
Nonetheless, those activities are super-important, so a few weeks ago, I hired an automated service to help (the one I'm using is called Social Bee; there are many alternatives out there). Although many might frown on my robotic tendencies, I believe that the rise of artificial intelligence on social media isn't necessarily a bad thing, provided that the activity is always monitored by a human.
Since I now don't have to spend time on repetitive tasks like searching and sharing, I can spend much more time monitoring my engagement feeds only. I think it's a far better use of my time, because I'm only focusing on people who have positively responded to my posts and reached out in response.
In this way, social media bots are like proxies for us, increasing our reach with a frequency that no human (with a full-time job) could ever match. Meanwhile, I argue that bots create a healthy buffer that only delivers quality interactions that truly need our attention. If you have teenage children who are addicted to their phones, imagine a world in which bots do some of their content curation, allowing them to look up every now and then.
OK, maybe that's a long-shot, but it could happen.
Since turning to artificial intelligence just one month ago, I've grown my followings by literally thousands of people, increased my email list, and gotten extremely positive feedback from people I never could have reached by manually controlling my social media output. I've also gotten two or three comments about bots -- but those get buried under the number of comments I've received about how helpful some of my content has been. Ultimately, the service has allowed me to grow my social media presence and compete in a social media landscape awash with rapid-fire content. Score one for the robots.
Sure, this might be the beginning of the end. I have seen both of those documentaries -- The Terminator and The Matrix -- and I admit that I'm on the fence about whether social media bots might be the canary in the gold mine. But, then again, when that first gentleman asked me if I were a robot on Twitter, it might have been the wrong question.
After all, if I am indeed a robot, how would I know? See you on Twitter!