3 C’s of Social Media Marketing Automation. On Cool, Cute and Crap.

Twitter Status 6 achievement - empireavenue.com

Twitter Status 6 achievement - empireavenue.com

I recently received a “Twitter Status 6 achievement” on empireavenue.com.
It means I posted 750 tweets in my life. This merely indicates that I’ve been active on Twitter for a short period. During this short period however, I noticed a little annoying aspect of the social media phenomenon.

That little annoying aspect I want to talk about is what I call “the deployment of social media marketing automation tools” or even “twitter marketing automation”.

Social media has a human aspect

Social media doesn’t bear the word “social” in it just for fun. It’s all about engagement and connecting with people. As a result I recommend to listen before you define your social media strategy – and especially before you start automating. This will improve your overall social media campaign…

Oh wait! Stop thinking campaign-wise! It’s social, not campaigns. It’s people. It’s connecting. It’s engaging. It’s conversations. It’s for once and forever. It is marriage.

The Machine - painting as spotted in Museum of Modern Art Brussels.

The Machine - painting as spotted in Museum of Modern Art Brussels.

Social media’s machine aspect: automation

Let’s say social relates to human and let’s assume automation relates to machines. How can you then appropriately deploy automation within a social sphere? I believe the answer ought to be found in the 3 C’s of Social Media Marketing Automation.

The 3 C’s of Social Media Marketing Automation: Cool, Cute, Crap.

As I’ve been around and active in social media for about 750 tweets now, I’ve distilled some of the do’s and don’ts of social media automation.

It turned out however that it’s not that easy to define an automation aspect as “do” or “don’t”. Sometimes it can be used in a “good” way but it can easily glimpse into a “bad” one. That’s why I introduce a third class into this debate, the “consider wisely” category.

Bringing sexiness: category labels and infographics – Cool, Cute, Crap.

So to turn my entire theory / philosophy about social media marketing automation into a sex bomb, I’ve relabeled the categories into something more compelling (at least I believe, and please allow me to do so) and spice it up with an infographic.

The categories / labels are:

  • Cool (do): social media automation that’s recommended. A do. A Cool thing.
  • Cute (do with care): social media automation that might be beneficial. There’s the danger to glimpse into the don’t category.
  • Crap (don’t): absolute don’ts of social media marketing automation.

Cut the crap – what exactly is Cool, Cute or Crap?

Well, read the below overview or scroll down to the infographic below. Please realize that this is not an exact science and only a personal interpretation of what I’ve encountered. Of course, the list also doesn’t claim to be complete. I would highly appreciate your suggestions to include in this list – whether under Cool, Cute or Crap.

Infographic - 3 Cs

Infographic - 3Cs

  1. COOL
    • Multiple account management tools. If you need more than one account / profile / personality in the social realms, it might be cool to automate the management of the different personas. One could think of e.g. a professional and a private account or a consultant managing multiple company accounts, etc.
    • Multiple contributors to one account (professional environments).
    • Url shorteners. One of the key social aspects is to share things. Most of the time this includes sharing a link. It’s very cool to use Url shorteners. And it’s supercool to deploy personalized url shorteners…
    • Monitoring. It’s cool to monitor what people say about you or your themes. But please don’t push it.
  2. CRAP
    • Auto creation of users so to have a higher follower rate. There are tools who promise you a high amount of followers. In fact, the software creates fake people that follow you. Big fail.
    • Extensive retweet scheduling: automatically scream the same message over and over.
    • Bulk tweet sending. If you see a person able to tweet 10 messages in less than a minute than you know it’s automated, than you know it ain’t human.
    • Auto message to new followers “look forward to your tweets”. Yeah right, you follow over 20K people, as if you’re really interested in me.
    • Auto follow followers. It doesn’t make sense to follow somebody just merely because they follow you.
    • Picked keywords that are automatically (re)tweeted. This is very annoying. Yes it’s cool to monitor to stay informed but automatic re-spread of a message is crap.
    • Constant retweet of your marketing hero without any input. If I like those tweets, I will follow the source, your hero. After all it’s your hero who’s cool, not you.
    • Feed tweets from other sources that don’t have a 140 chars limit. Facebook has a 420 character limit, so if you push this to Twitter, your message is lost.
  3. CUTE:
    • Feed it from a different source. Linking your blog to other social networks is cool but tends to be cute when you don’t pay enough attention. It’s completely crap when you don’t pay any attention at all. Make sure you can modify your message for the different platforms’ characteristics.
    • Tweet scheduling can be very cute. Especially if you have a follower base in different time zones. But don’t spam it.
    • Automated tweeting when there’s a new comment on your blog is cute. But what about auto tweeting spammy a-like messages?
    • Social Media Monitoring and auto-follow anyone who mentions you without any interaction or further engagement. I personally had that experience with big brands as Adobe, Audi and RedBull. Of course I was flattered they followed me but without any engagement or interaction, it was only cute, not cool.

An infographic – that makes things sexy these days

Infographics are very hot these days. And yes, it makes facts and figures sexier to read. That’s probably why some even call it infoporn. OK, mine isn’t that sexy but it’ll be only by trying that I’ll make good once later, much later.

Infographic - 3 C's of Social Media Marketing Automation

Infographic - 3 C's of Social Media Marketing Automation

The rise of Happiness Engineer & The Corporate pursuit of Happiness.

corporate pursuit of happiness

corporate pursuit of happiness

After several months of bloglessness I finally got myself up-and-running again. Full of inspiration? Yes. And I still remember my password too. Great! But that’s only half-way there.

Earlier this week, I couldn’t access my blog Administration. WordPress kindly informed me about the issues. The message was something similar to “Whoops! There’s something wrong. Please check the knowledge base for any known issues and if none of this helps, drop us a note”.

So I did all of that but ended up dropping them that note. The issue got solved extremely quickly by Andrew. But I don’t want to talk about WordPress’s great support service today.

Today I want to talk about Andrew. Andrew is a Happiness Engineer at WordPress. Happiness Engineer? What on earth? Well, WordPress probably met Marketing professor Jennifer Aaker and her research on “Happiness”.

Jennifer Aaker’s study on the corporate pursuit of happiness

Jennifer Aaker is a well-known professor marketing. She studies psychology alongside marketing and spent the last several years studying the subject of “happiness”. How do people find happiness? How do they keep it? How do they manipulate it? How do they use it as a resource?

Jennifer L. Aaker, General Atlantic Professor of Marketing, Graduate School of Business Stanford University

Jennifer L. Aaker, General Atlantic Professor of Marketing, Graduate School of Business Stanford University

The main finding of the study is that in fact a “meaningful experience” (e.g.: new skill) often makes people happier than moments of pure pleasure. This is what she and others call the “Paradox of Happiness”.

Next to that, she discovered happiness is age-dependent. Young people relate happiness to excitement whereas elderly link it with peacefulness. But what’s more important to me is that Aaker soon discovered that the above little nuances were key for marketing and business.
After all, she realized, brands are increasingly trying to appeal to consumer’s emotions to keep their sales going in these rough economic times.

So she set up her theory and easily convinced the academic world that she was on to something – resulting in a graduate-level class “Designing Happiness” in one of USA’s leading business schools. But in today’s post-recession economy, where morale is low, brand owners and marketers tend to see the appeal of promising happiness along with their products as well. They realized that they could deploy happiness as any other commodity to sell something.

Of course, the question is: how does one implement the ideas of Happiness into marketing and business? Let’s have a look at corporations that tried to integrate this entire “happiness idea”.

Aaker’s Happiness and some Big Guns

  • Adobe:
    got lectured by Aaker on the liaison between happiness and meaningful moments. The ideas were implemented through the “Adobe Youth Voices” project. The project allows children and teenagers from poor environments to use the Adobe software freely in order to create their story.
  • Coke:
    experimented with the link between happiness and the brand. Just think about Coke’s “happiness machine” or the entire “open happiness” campaign.
  • AOL:
    sources claim they have received lectures from Prof. Aaker but I don’t have an idea whether they implemented it in one way or another.

Benefits of “happiness-driven” marketing campaigns?

In fact nobody really knows for sure, as is often the case in social sciences. Aaker’s hypotheses is the following:

Marketing Happiness is one of the few ways businesses can still appeal to people in a manner that feels authentic. That’s important, because people have an aversion to anything that feels overly manufactured.

The concept of Marketing Happiness thus expands the idea of what it means to buy something. If you follow this theory, you believe that brands can provide greater meaning to the world for the consumer. One of those greater meanings could be things that enable happiness. Consequently the consumers want to share that happy moment and feeling as if the product is part of their lives and community (read: facebook likes, twitter mentions).
Happy Talk = Word-of-Mouth!

Case WordPress: bringing Happiness through a job title isn’t enough

E-mail from the Happiness Engineer at WordPress

E-mail from the Happiness Engineer at WordPress

Best regards — Andrew — Happiness Engineer — WordPress.com

As I mentioned earlier in this article, I dropped WordPress a note to register my issue. Most compelling about the whole support was the job name of the guy helping me out. Andrew is a Happiness Engineer. Guess his job is to engineer people into a happy state of mind, right? Now how can he make people happy?

First, and this is what most people believe is sufficient, he can solve our technical problems as soon as possible.

Second, he can inform us what the error is about and educate us about the skill required to fix it. Maybe next time I can do it myself. This is what’s going to make me really happy, according to Aaker’s findings. And it will probably make Andrew happy too. His work-load will decrease. Andrew choose the first option by the way. He solved it himself. Not teaching me anything. Maybe Andrew already figured I couldn’t fix it anyway.

Aaker discovered that a meaningful experience (e.g.: new skill, volunteering, spending time with family) often makes people happier than moment of pure pleasure.

Andrew, are you authentic? Do you really exist?

Aaker believes marketing happiness could be one of the few ways business can still appeal to people in an authentic way.

I doubt the authenticity of Andrew. Would an authentic human being out of flesh and blood e-mail you six times? Would he send recurring e-mails that bring you exactly the same message? I wouldn’t for sure. It felt like spam. And I’m quite convinced that you’d experience too much e-mails as “manufactured” as well. Didn’t Aaker learned us that we actually don’t like that?

Aaker says that people have an aversion to anything that feels overly manufactured.

Andrew, WordPress's Hapiness Engineer send me 6 e-mails.

Andrew, WordPress's Hapiness Engineer send me 6 e-mails.

WordPress and Aaker did they ever had a date?

So, in the end I find myself asking: did WordPress ever had a lecture from Aaker? Or did WordPress just hear about the “Happiness Buzz” and came up with a title to put on automated e-mails? One would think so. After all they didn’t integrate two key findings of the study:

  1. that happiness after a struggle is the most rewarding
  2. that bringing happiness requires authenticity

As they did:

  1. just solve my problem. OK, it was solved fast, so I’m quite happy with that.
  2. not show any authenticity to me. Yes, too much e-mails feel robotized and spammy.

Yours Truly — @vermeiretim — Awesomeness Developer — tmbot.wordpress.com


  1. I’m still in love with WordPress. This is just storytelling.
  2. You can always frame a story like you want to. I could have written it completely different. Just consider me framing it from the perspective of me being happy because of writing this article as a result of my initial Back-office issue. If you look at it like that, Andrew truly engineered me to be happy. After all, the true struggle was writing this blog post. Now that’s finished, I’m happy.
    Or suppose I wrote this story with a focus on the opposite approach “fear appeals”?
  3. There used to be a theory/research about persuasive communication that stated that “fear” (as being the opposite of “happy”) was a very effective way to get attention and communicate a message: “fear appeals”. Here are some references from that “wave”:
    • Spence, H.E.; Moinpour, R. (1972). “Fear Appeals in Marketing. A Social Perspective”. Journal of Marketing 36 (3): 39.
    • Leventhal, H (1971). “Fear appeals and persuasion: the differentiation of a motivational construct”. American Journal of Public Health 61 (6): 1208.
    • Dillard, J.P., & Anderson, J.W. (2004). The role of fear in persuasion. Psychology & Marketing, 21, 909-926.
    • Witte, K. (1992). Putting the fear back into fear appeals: The extended parallel process model. Communication Monographs, 59, 329-349.
    • I’ve also encountered this philosophy in political sciences. Let’s think e.g. on Adorno’s theory of the “authoritarian personality” (1950).
    • Taken the above into account and from what I know from the “fear appeals” theory, one can hardly imagine that this could ever be an ethical way to promote your business value a.k.a. to organize your marketing around a.k.a. to use in your communications.

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