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This is Lauren Katz: https://twitter.com/laur_katz. She works for NPR and it was her idea to see what would happen if NPR “swapped humans for robots” late last month.
Katz’s idea came from manually tweeting out select stories from NPR’s RSS feed at night after they’d already been tweeted by the automatons. Apparently, people pick on the human touch and she noticed increased engagement with her manual tweets. This positive reception convinced her that livetweeting NPR’s entire tweeter feed for 5 days would be a good idea.
“During the five days of manual updating, there were 142,219 visits to NPR’s website from @nprnews tweets — a 45 percent increase from the average (98,213) of the five weeks leading up to the experiment … Links tweeted by @nprnews were clicked on nearly 100,000 more times than links shared automatically the week before, information from its bit.ly account revealed. And the account gained 5,010 followers — about 14 percent more than the week before.”
Those are amazing numbers … and certainly a great PR stunt … which obviously you can’t rule out as a factor in the spike of followers and retweets, but a 45% increase? That’s huge, and more importantly it’s entirely organic and sustainable. Those followers, after all, were picked up fair and square–with engaging content.
There were some drawbacks, of course … Primarily, the intensiveness of livetweeting for a national news organization “every eight to 10 minutes.” Katz said:”…I found it really hard to write human tweets and keep up with everything else I was doing. I did it, and we were there all week, but it takes more manpower if we want to continue it.”
The question then for NPR is how practical would it be to continue with livetweets? Maybe a mix of automatic RSS tweets and livetweeting? What do you think? Leave us a comment in the comment section …