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#006: The negative consequences of automated messaging



A company I once admired became a company I no longer trust:


Last week, I received a friendly message on Instagram from a company asking if I was interested in becoming an ambassador for their brand. For those of you who aren’t IG-savvy, this doesn’t make me special-- most people receive DMs all the time from brands seeking “influencers;” AKA you get their goods at a discounted price as long as you take a picture and post in the merch that you purch… ase.


The tricky bit here is that it was a brand that I liked; I already was considering buying a shirt from their website so naturally, I was interested in a discount! Heck yeah!!! I’ll include a quick transcript of the conversation:

Company (Monica): “Hey, this is Monica, I’m from *company name*. We are looking for brand ambassadors and came across your profile. How are you?”
AA: “Hey there! I’m doing really well! Ready for the weekend but it’s been a wonderful week so I can’t complain too much. How are you, Monica? What does your program look like? You’ve got really cute merch!”
Monica: “I'll tell you a little about us! I started *company name* earlier last year. Our mission is to support the LGBTQ+ community through our powerful pride apparel.”
AA: “Love that! What’s a moment you are most proud of from the brand so far?”
Monica: “Take a look at our website and let me know what your favorite piece is! You can check the link in our bio for our collection and site.”
AA: “?”
Monica: “We would love to collaborate with you as an ambassador. We would love to share a discount with you for everything on the site. Once you receive your order we would love the opportunity to feature any photos you share with us on our Instagram and website and tag you at your account here or any other account you have :)”
AA: “It’s not a great feeling that this conversation is automated, Monica. Sorry :/”
Monica: “If you let me know your order number, i'll include an extra secret gift for being an ambassador :) Sometimes I miss messages, so if I'm not answering you can always email me at (monica @ really rude company .com).
Realizing I can't tell the difference between a human and a robot

As you can see, although Monica seemed real at first, she is not. Unless Monica is a person who can type well but cannot read. At all.


Much to my chagrin, It’s more likely that I was catfished by a brand that uses automated messaging; and rather than be embarrassed and delete the messages permanently, delete my account, and burn my phone, I’m broadcasting my naivety to illustrate a broader point:


Communication should never be automated (click here to see what I do instead).


I have worked as an executive assistant for over five years in Entertainment and in Tech. One of the pillars of my job is communication, so I like to think of myself as somewhat of an expert on this particular subject. As a general rule, automated communication will likely hurt your business far more than it will help it.


If you need further proof, look no further than car dealerships that use human sales reps rather than robots. Also, when presented with an automated telephone menu or AI phone robot, why else would I punch 9s and 0s as quickly as possible? So I can stop talking to a computer ASAP and speak to a real-life human being instead!


No human being likes talking to a robot because it is degrading and reminds us that we are but a blip on this pale blue dot and that robots will one day take over the world. No existential crisis for me today, but thanks! ✌

Guy wearing tie is biting his phone.
"May I speak to a representative?"

Automation is good for paying bills and for backing up my phone. Auto-save is a brilliant feature. Automation has its place in our world but-- hopefully, you can agree-- communication is not one of those places.


So now you may be asking: “If not through automation, how can I possibly save time and streamline my boring, repetitive conversations?” Fear not, young Padawan, there is a way to get off of that repetitive hamster wheel! You can save time by using templates (click here to skip ahead to my personal templates).

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Templates are the beautiful in-between of hands-on and hands-off. It’s a fill-in-the-blank communication structure that makes every email feel like a not-so-quirky MadGab.


Templates allow you to get your point across (with minimal typos), while still utilizing your own lingo and personalizing your message to the recipient. They require significantly less work than starting every email “Tabula Rasa”-style, but only a tee-tiny bit more work than automation.


Of course, I'm ready to show-n-tell examples of templates I use in my own life. Click here for ten of my go-to templates for quick, easy, and sincere scheduling. I also explain step-by-step how I utilize these templates for maximum efficiency and how you can too (spoiler: your email signature doesn’t have to just be your name).


If you could snap your fingers and have a part of your day automated or "templatized," what task(s) would that be? I’d love to know more about your work structure, so respond below and let me know!


Let’s get it (together),

Alexander