Do automated tweets add value or are they gimmicky?

This is a conversation I had recently when asked what I thought about Mattel’s Puppy Tweets, a “high-tech toy that will allow dogs to publicize their everyday activities on Twitter via a sound and motion sensor.” This toy has 500 programed tweets, ready to be thrown out at random and without the ability to be customized. What I dislike so much about Mattel’s Puppy Tweets is that you pay $30 to have your dog tweet things that Mattel wrote and approved for the device to say. You are paying to advertise for a company. But not all automated tweets are bad, it depends on who they come from.

Automated tweets have to be evaluated on an individual basis, based on the intended purpose, the target audience and whether it is promoting a product or not. Check out the below examples for my opinion:

Twibbots – This experiment was started by two buddies of mine from my former internship @chrissinchok and @jonsustar .  They created a variety of robots gave robots a platform to interact with humans on Twitter (see this to read more). Their robots include:

  • StellerSpeller
  • ConciseAdvice
  • OpinionMinion
  • BirthdayClown

According to Jon Sustar, the purpose of Twibotts is “auto-generated amusement, since it effortlessly gathers funny responses.”  (read funny responses here, here and here)


  • Automated: Yes, with responses written by both Chris and Jon
  • Intended Purpose: Amusement
  • Does it accomplish what it set out to do: Yes. Their bots aren’t selling or promoting a product. They are simply correcting spelling, giving advice and wishing people a happy birthday. The reactions they receive are organic, even if the response from the bot is not.

TwikeThis bike is fitted with a cell phone programmed to tweet out messages when it comes within rage of key areas of the East Festival, a festival in East London. I’m not sure if there is a point to this twike after looking at one of its automated tweets:

eastfestival #gpstweet – I am here: #twike arrived at east http://is.gd/9KqPp

Do people get anything by approaching the bike? Does finding the bike add to the experience of the festival? It is not clear from the Mashable article, the video that the London-based agency created, or the tweets themselves. If there is no purpose to the bike other then to announce it’s located at the festival, I’m not a big fan of this effort


  • Automated: Yes and integrated with Google Maps
  • Intended Purpose: To share Twike’s location with festival goers
  • Does it accomplish what it set out to do: Yes, but so what? So I know where this kinda fun tweeting bike is. If this festival is so hopping, why would I want to leave whatever I’m doing to go find a bike? Like I said earlier, to my knowledge, the bike does not offer any cool incentives, prizes or anything of value to those who find it. Cool technology, great start to an idea but the end result is gimmicky.

Tweetingcatdoor.com – You must admit, the creator of this is pretty damn smart. He built a cat door that is hooked up to a server, a webcam and a bunch of other super-nerdy tech stuff that I can’t comprehend. So what does is so cool about this door? It tweets a message everytime one of his two cats goes in or out or the door and posts a picture. (You can check their Twitter account here @GusAndPenny  ) Like Twibbots, the purpose of these automated tweets is to provide amusement. Also like Twibbots, this seems like an after work project that the creators began out of their own learning and fun.


  • Automated: Yes, but written by user
  • Intended Purpose: To bring amusement to people’s day. The creator probably also made this to see if he could actually do it from a technological stand point
  • Does it accomplish what is set out to do: Yes. I don’t follow this user because after awhile, the tweets repeat themselves BUT it’s a good example of innovative, fun thinking from someone NOT selling a product.

Get ready to see me wearing elastic-waist sweat pants from now on because I’m going to be buying (and eating) a lot of chocolate.

Nestle recently announced that their Wonka “Exceptionals line” will be participating in a REAL LIFE Golden Ticket contest. Ten grand prize winners “get to bring three friends on a trip around the world with $12,500 in spending money.” First prize winners win a $500 Airline Voucher..not to shabby!

I have considered myself an expert on Wonka’s Golden Tickets ever since I played Veruca Salt in the 4th grade musical (I was a little too convincing about being the spoiled brat who wanted a pony), so my question is ‘Why hasn’t Wonka done this before?????’ Might have been the logistics that held the company back in the past but who cares?!

Now here’s a question we DO care about: “Where can you buy Wonka Exceptionals?” The official website fails to provide a “Where to buy” feature and searches on Amazon and Google Shopping came up with zero results. So it turns out that the odds of winning may be more in your favor than actually finding these bars!

If people can actually FIND these bars, I think this promotion/contest will succeed for two reasons:

  • There’s a nostalgic feeling around a Golden Ticket. Adults who read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when they were young or watched the older (and better) movie version have a sense of “Oh-my-god-I-can-actually-win-one-of-those-things”
  • From what I read, there will be an actual ticket inside the packaging which states what you’ve one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve screwed the cap off a pop bottle and seen some ambigious code that looks like PP934DVU and thought “Hmm, this is probably related to a contest but logging on to a computer and entering this code for who knows what is just too much work”

Yesterday, I made my return debut at Columbus Academy (CA) in Gahanna, OH . At CA, I am known as a ‘lifer’, having spent all 13 years of my educational development at the same school. I have purposely not gone back since my graduation in 2005 as I frankly had banked enough time there in 13 years to last me quite some time. Can you blame me?  I mean, I haven’t been able to bring myself to wear a polo or an oxford shirt after wearing THIRTEEN years of dress code. P.S. Sorry but my socks never did fully cover my malleolus as the student handbook says, GOTCHA! BUT I broke down this week and returned to speak to eager youngsters during their Alumni Career Lunch Forum.

Glad they didn't post the pictures of me making strange faces

I spoke to 32 high school students (hopefully they weren’t just there for a free catered lunch) about social media and other emerging technologies. They asked some great questions not only about the information I was sharing but also about my college experience and how I entered the interactive field. Surprisingly (har har), I was invited back next year, as my lunch was well attended and the students seemed to be very interested in marketing/advertising.

Thanks @ColumbusAcademy for sending me the above pictures (and not posting my awkward face ones)

Look at that face. I can't tell if this is Scout or Maverick

In October, I went to a dog rescue event called Barktoberfest where I met  two gorgeous bull mastiffs that stole my heart. Both had been rescued from a puppy mill and consequently suffer from a multitude of ongoing health issues. Despite having a miserable start to life, they are now the happiest mastiffs in the world thanks to the two wonderful founders of Angel’s Rest Animal Sanctuary of New Richmond, OH.

Since moving to Cincinnati this summer, I have been wanting to do some volunteer work for an animal-related cause. During my conversation with the women, I discovered they didn’t have a website! Bing bang boom this is where I was destined to volunteer. DONE.

Well it’s now…February and we were finally able to get together and start. After doing some research and speaking with my lovely techie friend Jon Sustar, I decided to use  www.squarespace.com (@squarespace). It has amazing pre-coded widgets that will allow a lot of functionality that I would never be able to construct PLUS the ability to customize every detail of the page was also a huge draw. Since we had the platform to build it on, we were able to discuss fun things like design! After searching through Adobe Kuler, we selected the color palette “For Hilary” :

I, along with everyone at Angel’s Rest, couldn’t be more excited to get this website up and running. They are run solely on donations from the community and a website will definitely increase the visibility of their great cause. I’ll continue to post pictures of the adventures I have going out to the sanctuary’s temporary grounds, as I have a lot of fun meeting the animals in the office. And by meeting, I mean plopping on the floor and snuggling.

Angel's Rest Animal Sanctuary

They were very excited to see me

I love fall because of all the delicious pumpkin-flavored foods that are available.

So far I have purchased and/or eaten:

  • Yagoot’s Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt – I didn’t like this, even though it was paired with Cinnamon Teddy Grahams. The Pumpkin flavor was too tart and citrusy, reminding me of an orange flavor instead of the spiced-filled goodness that is pumpkin.
  • UDF’s Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream – Delish! It has pieces of pumpkin pie crust mixed in and it is dangerously good
  • Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte – Once again, delish!
  • Homemade Pumpkin Bread – I purchased this at a farmers market in Mount Vernon, OH from a pair of tattooed, Harley-loving love birds, making the experience so much better
  • Pumpkin Dot – A lovely co-worker of mine made these at home and they reminded me of Cheryl & Co’s Cinnamon Frosted Cookies found in this gift box trio

Pumpkin-flavored things that I still need to buy and eat while I can:

  • Pumpkin Seeds – I need to go out and buy a pumpkin so that I can bake the seeds! Home baked seeds are SO much better than the ones you purchase at a store. yuck!
  • Brueggers Pumpkin Cream Cheese – I’m not a huge cream cheese fan but I have to try this
  • Pumpkin Butter – Another co-worker told me that he purchased this at a farmers market. MUST FIND
  • Even though I ate a Pumpkin Dot, I need to go to Cheryl & Co and get a Cinnamon Frosted Cookie.

(Trying to aid my mom in some computer-related problem)

Me: Mom, go to your desktop

Mom: What’s my desktop?

Me: Mom! You’ve been using a computer for like 10 years now..a desktop is the thing with the picture of your and dad on it

This is an example of one of the many conversations I’ve had with my Mom, leading to frustration on both sides.

This morning on the Today Show, I saw a segment about Florence Henderson’s new business venture called FLOH CLUB.

This is a pretty ingenious concept to help older adults who didn’t have the chance to grow up on computers and be super computer literate like the younger generation.

FLOH CLUB allows people to sign up to receive assistance with things such as:

  • Using email, instant messaging, videoconferencing and Facebook
  • Setting up a home network
  • Purchase airline tickets, gifts, books or prescriptions safely over the internet
  • Transfer photos from a digital camera to a computer

The assistance is available once a user purchases a one-time, monthly or annual package. The support services are available 18 hours a day, 7 days a week and are able to access your computer using remote-assistance technology, allowing users to watch as an issue is resolved or as you receive personalized training.

Services like this seem extremely beneficial for the older generation who feel like family members get frustrated when explaining what appear to be simple concepts.

1) They tend to think you have every disease they are currently learning about

“Wait, stick out your tongue. Oh, nevermind. I thought it was unusually flat in the middle which would mean you have (insert scary deadly disease here), the disease we learned about today.”

2) They smell like gross lab

Med students come home from school where they have been dissecting cadavers in the gross lab… and smell of..well, not good things. Most of the time, they have changed out of the scrubs that they were wearing but the smell is still wafting from their hair.

3) They ruin House

I love watching Fox’s House but realized last night that it is different when you watch it with something that knows a thing or two about medicine. It just so happens that what the patient was diagnosed with on last night episode was on my boyfriend’s exam earlier that day. Consequently, last night was filled with “I just learned about that,” and “Thrombocytosis is when your platelet count goes blah blah blah.”

4) They become uncivilized after countless days of endless studying

Once a med student emerges from days of endless studying, they will have lost all sense of what the real world it like. They pinch and poke due to their loss of verbal skills, caused by a lack of conversation using everyday, non-medical words.

More to come as time goes on