Being Human in an Automated World

With social media, companies can easily target their audiences, without spending tons of money on ads, and choose their own communication pace. In order to make the implementation easily managed, some businesses choose to automate aspects of their social media presence (like scheduling and auto-responder).

Sounds like a great plan, right?

Well, it turns out that for some companies, automated replies made their brand look pretty bad.

But how does that happen? Automated messages are usually well-drafted, right?

Even the best-drafted replies, used at the wrong time, are not going to make you look good. Think about it, programmed conversation involves no real-time human participation. Nothing gives that away more than responding to a complaint with an indifferent tone and irrelevant content.

Let me show you an example.

Bank of America(@BofA_Help) was tagged in a post by Mr. Timmis: “looks like you were really causing an obstruction.”

1-Bank of America(1)

Even though Timmis was just commenting on another person’s experience with the bank, Bank of America responded anyways. “Hi Mr. Timmis, I work for Bank of America. What happened? Anything I can do to help?”

At this point, Mr. Timmis probably did not want to talk with an auto-reply bot but other Twitter users decided to keep the conversation flowing.

2-Bank of America(2)

In this instance, the bank was responding to publics’ product-irrelevant anger with vapid offers. With the lack of real-person interaction and failure of showing care, the brand merely reinforced those customers’ views that the company is heartless.

But, can we really blame Bank of America for using automated responses? On average, they receive hundreds of mentions every hour. Can human effort alone address every single mention?

I don’t think so.

So what do we do?

The trick is adding more human elements to your online marketing practice. After all, those who tag your brand anticipate being engaged and understood. 

Making automatic responses sound human isn’t actually very difficult. Writing your name, correctly identifying demand, and having a consistent voice that represents your brand goes a long way in accomplishing this goal.

Write Your Name

Why? Because names increase the feeling of human connection.


Anonymous messages can create feelings of insecurity to a customer who is unable to identify the other “person” he is talking to behind the screen.

The concept of including a name in your message is to humanize your social media account.

T-Mobile recently tested Twitter’s new feature of creating custom profiles in Direct Messages. Now, the company could add the profile image and name of a customer service agent helping the customer.

You can see for yourself the positive reaction from the customer.

Identify Demand

Before creating a message, there’s identification. Analyzing who you are talking with and their demand is crucial prior to a response.

If your response is irrelevant to what the follower has in mind and is created based on assumed situations, the interaction will serve no positive effect but only diminish your audience’s interest in talking with you.

It’s absolutely okay to get some help from technology. Just be mindful of the different demands when you make a list of possible situations amid shaping automotive replies. Product and service information may not always be the cause your followers reach out to you. If you are assuming all conversations are about you, you are missing out. Sometimes people just want to talk, share a feeling, or express an opinion.

4-Bank of America(3)

Use a Consistent and Representative Voice

Having a unique and fun voice can allow companies to relate more with their audience while still being informative.  A good example is how Chipotle manages its relations with followers.

Chipotle does a great job of entertaining its audience with fun facts, witty words and instant care while still promoting its food and solving customers’ requests.

Who would think a food company has something to say on tax day?


They even respond to tweets that other marketers might consider having no direct sell-value.


Building your voice and staying consistent are key to building trust and sounding human. Just make sure you apply your voice to your automated responses too!

Despite an array of benefits your company hopes to gain from automation, losing customers’ interest is obviously not one of them. That’s why you must make sure all of your automated responses still have the human touch!