The social robot

Everyone loves a gadget. Particularly gadgets that helps us spend another few minutes on the couch, rather than cleaning up after someone else.

Getting machines to do our dirty work is nothing new. Some of us live our lives with robotic vacuum cleaners, cars that park themselves, fridges that tell us what food we need to buy, and toilets that automatically close the lid.

But what about our online personas? Do they need a break too?

Michael Whelan - Robots of Dawn
Michael Whelan – Robots of Dawn

It seems to fall into the realm of #1stworldproblems, but Kit Kat certainly seems to think it is a serious issue.

After researching the lifestyles of teenagers and young adults, they realised that Facebook was stressing out their potential customers.

Peer pressure and the volume of social media interactions was creating a feeling of being overwhelmed with “social obligation”.

So in an interesting twist, the marketing team behind Kit Kat designed a branded software widget that automatically likes photos you are tagged in, and will tweet your Facebook updates and share LinkedIn posts made by your contacts.

In a sense, this is nothing particularly amazing. People have been using bots on Twitter for years. Some are even famous, like @THEUNIVERSE. Dare to complain about the universe and you might get a tweet from it in response.

But are we just becoming too lazy, relying on robots and gadgets to handle tasks which require trivial amounts of effort and time?

Are we giving away too much power to the machine?

It is a question that has been asked over and over again. From Asimov’s Robot novels, to 2001: A Space Odyssey, to this clip from the Onion.

Perhaps the social media robot says more about our relationships with other people, than with our gadgets. If we are finding it too tiring and trivial to deal with friends and family via social media, why bother to pretend?

Facebook is supposed to help people share their lives with friends and family, not dominate them with pointless notifications and mindless drudgery.

Perhaps it wasn’t entirely intentional, but Kit Kat actually highlighted a rather profound point with their social robot. For many of us, dealing with social media is often just plain old boring.

Businesses need to very carefully consider how their marketing and social media activities fit into that picture. Do your campaigns entertain, enlighten, or add value?

You don’t want to end up in a situation where only the robots are paying attention.

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