I Design + Develop + Support WordPress websites

Why not to Automate Everything

A copywriter friend of mine, Christine Parizo, recently came across a request from a reporter looking for  a wordpress expert to answer some questions, so she thought of me. The reporter was looking for information on plugins that will automatically tweet and post to facebook when a new blog post is created. Now, there are all kinds of plugins out there that do this, but even if they all worked great (and I’m sure some of them do), I still wouldn’t recommend them.

I think automation is great. I also think the web is a great tool for automation. Even a website is a form of automation. You put up your sales copy, write a blog post, or put up a video, and it keeps on working for you automatically as a sales tool without you spending more time on that particular part of your site. Find a salesman who will do that!

But sometimes automation just doesn’t make sense. Think about it this way: You’ve just written a 1000 word blog post that you may have spent hours researching, or you’ve even just dashed off a quick 400 word post like this one is going to be because something sparked an idea, but then you let an automated bit of code take over when it’s time to write the whopping 14o characters it takes to promote the post on twitter. Does that make sense?

What these plugins do is take the post’s title, create a shortlink (from bit.ly for example) and post it using the authorization you gave it to access your twitter account. Sounds good so far, but what if that brilliant thing between your ears can come up with a better way to promote your post than by just spitting out the title? I bet it can too!

Once you’ve spent all that time writing your blog post, why automate that last crucial yet simple and fast step of promoting the post when you could probably come up with a much better way of promoting it in a fraction of the time it took you to write it?

My point is that automation is a great thing, but only if it either delivers the same same result in a shorter amount of time, or the time to “do it by hand” is greater than the reward of adding your own touch.

That’s my take on it. What do you think? Is all automation the right choice no matter how little time it saves, or does the human touch still matter on the web?