Evil Social Media Bots

April 19, 2017 / by Shiho Hashimoto Shiho Hashimoto

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You've probably heard of the so-called 'bots', or computer robots. Why should we fear them? They are continuously evolving and getting more human-like, creating serious trouble on the internet and obscuring brand insight.  

Bots can be described as algorithms that act in social media networks. However, to the outside world, they actually look like real users. Bots come in various shapes and sizes - some of them are very simple, while others are advanced to the max.

Bots are much more common than one might think. What do these bots do?

Many things.

A lot of services will offer you bots, for example fake followers and bots that will like whatever you post on social networks. The list goes on...

Building bots is easy, actually you can try it at home. The worst part is that social media bots can appear very natural in a creepy way, and well made bots can even gain your trust. Not only can they discuss with you, but they're also able to skew algorithms, influence your opinion, make you famous through fake followers, and in some cases, cause a lot of damage.

So, what makes bots so dangerous?

First of all, they are considered as spam. They might persuade you to buy stuff, or just be generally disturbing. Secondly, bots are troublemakers. Even the most simple bots are able to cause harm to others, i.e. to your competitors; an example - just sign up your worst competitor with a lot of fake identities and then make the world know about it. Thirdly, bots can skew public opinion, which might influence what is trending. Lastly, bots can limit free speech. How? By spamming discussion with irrelevant messages so that important messages sent by activists are pushed lower on the discussion page.

In other words, the bot business is affecting marketers as well.

Bots are cloning human activity on social media, and on a large scale they might skew trends, as in trending topics algorithms, which creates a false reality. Sad to say, but social media is no longer owned by real humans, instead it's owned by humans who run millions of bots.

Fake followers created by bots has become a huge business, but have you ever thought of all the harm they can cause to your brand? 

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Traditional analytics tools are not able to rule out noise, spam, and irrelevant data that are swarming in social media discussions. Typically 60-80% of your collected data that seem to be related to your brand is noise. The data needs to be cleaned out in order for you to get true and accurate insights into what kind of social discussions are happening around your topic, which actually matters to you. 

Learn more about why you need clean data in social analytics.

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Tags: Brands, Marketing, Social Media, Big Data, Brand Insight, Brand Management, Social Analytics, Social Listening, Trend Tracking, Communication, Social Media Monitoring, Social Media Consultation, Brand Visibility Metrics

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