January 28, 2020

Should You Use Marketing Bots?

What Are Marketing Bots?

What are marketing bots and how should you use them? If you’re not familiar with what a “marketing bot” is, it is anything that automates a marketing task usually used for businesses in order to get more customers.

Each and every day our world’s technology is improving. Specifically, artificial intelligence, which has seen a tremendous rise throughout society. This new technology can be very useful--if used correctly.

In terms of digital marketing, automation can help with certain processes which are otherwise tedious or daunting. Through automation, or by using bots, we can pull articles from our blog and post to our various social media pages based on a specific schedule. Also, we can schedule emails, which can be sent out weekly, daily, monthly; never missing a beat with future promotions and staying relevant with our audience. We can customize and personalize the user experience and create promotions to automatically notify new subscribers or send welcome messages.

Even by using A.I technology, we can accomplish some very interesting things while working with certain algorithms and creating a non-stop flow of new and exciting content.

These tools can be very powerful, on the other hand this technology can be very damaging to your business.

Bots Can Kill Your Marketing Strategy

There are thousands of digital marketing companies in the US. Not all of them are going to be the best. When there is an opportunity and shortcuts available, some may decide to go that route, rather than doing things the right way. 

One example of the exploitation of bots comes from a digital marketing agency in the area. Their scam, and I don't use the word lightly, was to have their client pay them to run a bot on their computer. The client isn't going to know that the program they are using is a bot, nor would they understand the risks, especially when focusing on the reward. It would cost $200/month to run a program on your own computer. You pay the marketing agency who came up with this whole scam and the bot then spams Google with key searches related to your business. Hundreds of times a day. All day. Every day. Using various proxied IP address, Google then thinks that your business is so popular and is being Googled by tens of thousands of users, every single day.

This might trick Google, but it doesn't take long for them to catch on. The sudden surge in search results, the consistency of the search terms. Nevertheless, when you decide, "Great! I am now ranking for 'Kid's Birthday Parties.' I do not need to use this program anymore." or, the agency no longer offers this service, your search queries drop. Going from hundreds of thousands of searches to a mere dozen or so.

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The consequences of toying with Google's algorithm is what you might expect. You won't be appearing on their search results. Not on page 1, not on page 2, not on page 5. Somewhere buried in the abyss right after every single one of your possible competitors. This probationary period can last a long time. Sometimes a year or two. Even if you spend all this money working on your SEO or search console issues, you still have to wait. It really is whenever they feel like you've 'learned your lesson'.

One of the more popular ways to exploit bots for marketing is by using social media bots in order to gain a large amount of followers within minutes. There are several ways to purchase followers online for as low as 1.0¢/per follower. That’s 1,000 followers, or likes, for just $10. Sounds great, right?

Here’s what happens when you purchase followers or Facebook likes. Obviously, the amount of likes on your page increases. This gives off the impression that your page is popular, or that your business is well-known. Except for the fact that these likes you purchased are coming from fake accounts or accounts that have no interest in your page or business and are unlikely to fit your target demographic. They are practically never going to engage in your content and others will see that.

Your actual potential audience may notice the extremely high amount of likes or followers and extremely low amount of engagement on your posts. If you have 3,000 likes on your Facebook page and you are only getting one or two likes on a post, then not only does that look suspicious to your audience, but that actually has very real consequences for your page and ultimately your business.

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Fake Facebook Followers

In 2014, Facebook announced that of their 1.23 billion followers at the time, 11.2% were fake followers. As much as they try to weed out the spammy accounts, their efforts are largely unsuccessful. What Facebook does, however, is punish the pages that may or may not be aware that they have a large amount of fake followers. They do this by removing your page from the news feed. Like Google, major tech companies have their own algorithms in order to keep their projects relevant and service valuable. For instance, Facebook rewards pages with relevant content and true user engagement by giving them priority in the user's news feed.

In 2019, Facebook had shut down over 5 billion fake accounts. Each year, they remove billions of fake accounts from using their services.

If your profile has fake followers, you most likely have low user engagement, and even if your actual followers are actually following your page, your content won’t always show up in their news feed. Many major companies, such as YouTube, Twitter, Instagram & Google all use this reward and punishment tactic in order to prevent spammy accounts from spoiling their services. When they are actively removing these accounts from their platforms, you will be losing a majority of your followers, which also has been seen to result in your account being put on a sort of probation.

Are Bots Bad?

Bots can be used to help automate our otherwise mundane routine needed to keep our accounts relevant. There are ways to use bots, automation or even A.I technology to help handle certain tasks. Automated posts scheduling, emails, welcome messages, chat bots, these are all acceptable uses of the technology.

When this type of technology is exploited, there are almost always consequences. Using bots to fill out contact forms, sending unsolicited emails, spamming keywords, spamming Google searches, buying followers, these are just some of the many ways the people use bots to boost their internet presence. You may not always be aware of these things. You may have hired an agency that promised amazing results, holding secrets to success that only they know.

Unfortunately, it isn't them who has to deal with the consequences. Your internet presence and your brand is what is effected. It isn't a minor issue to deal with either. You may be lured into paying even more money to help with your failing internet presence or low user-engagement. You may be overpaying for your Facebook or Google ads due to this. Your business should be making money. Granted, you must spend money to make money. But, if it sounds too good to be true, if you're being promised spectacular results, thousands of followers in just a matter of hours, then it probably is too good to be true.

Be educated. Be cautious. Don't exploit the use of bots.

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Anthony DeVola
MArketing Strategist
Anthony DeVola is the lead website developer, marketing strategist and owner of Real Nice Websites. Helping businesses achieve their potential by analyzing the latest news and trends within the marketing industry.

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