How much automation is OK in social media?

If you’re running marketing campaigns on social media, it makes sense to be using automation tools. Automation increases your efficiency by making it easier to plan and execute your campaigns; giving you back precious time to use on the rest of your to-do list. But it’s crucial to strike the right balance between auto updates and that critical real-time engagement which makes social such a successful channel for your brands. Too much automation can result in your social efforts coming across as contrived rather than authentic, potentially damaging your relationship with your followers and wider community.

To help you make the most of the automation opportunity, here are my top 10 tips:

1 – Plan your campaign: Integrate updates to coincide with what you’re doing on other channels

It seems like a no-brainer, but is easy to forget, especially as social media is still often kept in a silo away from the more traditional/everyday marketing activities, rather than being fully integrated with them. Use your ability to schedule as an opportunity to align you social media messaging with your other campaign channels. If you’re running a social only campaign use automation as an opportunity to really map out the story you want to tell before you start to tell it. You’ll find that you have a much more coherent and cohesive message than if you’d taken a more adhoc approach.

2 – Make time for engagement

Automation shouldn’t be used as a replacement for engagement, quite the opposite. Use the time freed up by your automation efforts to talk to people, join conversations, respond, share and find new influencers to follow and engage. Make an effort to schedule time each day to dedicate to being engaging.

3 – Don’t schedule across all your channels in one go

It’s important to remember when you’re scheduling updates not to simply do a blanket update. Your communities and their expectations will differ from network to network and each social platform plays to different content strengths, so ensure that your updates reflect this understanding. Each social media channel has its own nuances and language – for example, there’s not much point sharing a tweet with an @handle to LinkedIn and Facebook; not only will it not have the same meaning as on Twitter but it will really highlight your social media inexperience (or laziness).  If you’re struggling to find different content for all your social channels, it’s worth thinking about whether you need to scale back and streamline your efforts.

4 – Use auto scheduling  

When to schedule updates for can be quite tricky, especially if you’re dealing with communities in global time zones. Tools like HootSuite have an autoschedule feature which uses an algorithm to determine when the optimal time to send your post will be. Sprout Social offers six suggested times for your posts based on data that show when your message is most likely to be seen.

5 – Make it interesting

Writing and planning content in advance can feel like a thankless task, and it’s really easy to become repetitive…as well as dull. Write your content when you’re feeling at your freshest and don’t try to do it all in one sitting. Have a look at your favourite social media accounts for inspiration – there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

6 – Your agency: How much automation have you agreed with them?

If you’ve employed a social media agency to carry out a campaign on your behalf, ensure that you’ve talked about your automation expectations. You want to make sure that they’re adhering to best practice and that they’re not abusing automation, otherwise your brand could be missing out on valuable engagement opportunities which have been overlooked.

7 – Automation isn’t an excuse for spam 

Just because you can schedule marketing message after marketing message in advance doesn’t mean you should. No one wants to stand next to the person shouting about themselves at the party, don’t let that social media account be you. Your followers want you to be useful and valuable to them, so don’t forget about the quality of your messages in your hurry to schedule more stuff, this is what grabs people’s attention and prolongs the life of your post.

8 – Don’t automate too much

The social media community is savvy, it knows what automation looks like. And while users expect a certain amount of automation from brands, too much means your account goes from being ‘social media’ to ‘shouting media’, pull to push. How do you know if you’re automating too much? If your automated messages are outweighing your authentic actions then I’d suggest that you’ve already gone too far, however the best way to know is to test the response of your followers to more or less content. Gauge their reactions to the changes you make through monitoring your shares, likes, clicks and conversions – as well as how many people are un/following you.

9 – Beware scheduling too far in advance

Although tempting, scheduling too far in advance can be dangerous. The world is a changeable place and relying too heavily scheduling can mean that your content is out of sight, out of mind at times when you need to be on the ball. It could be a little thing, perhaps a speaker has dropped out of your event but a scheduled tweet has gone out about their attendance, through to world altering events which see your jolly message turning downright offensive in the blink of an eye.

10 – Never automate DM messages, follows, and RTs (and beware auto favourites) on Twitter

Though there are tools which enable you to do this, I feel very strongly about not automating DM messages to new followers (obviously spam and not authentic), follows (again, a spammy way to try and get new followers and can end up being rather confusing), and RTs (very dangerous as you can end up retweeting some really weird stuff, regardless of how smart you try to be with your keywords).

Auto Favourites is a tricky one as it can grow your followers and traffic to your site, but it can be dangerous as the auto functionality is set-up against keywords and phrases – so you could end up favouriting something completely inappropriate.

But overall, automation is a must for any busy marketing manager, there’s a great list here of seven time saving social media automation tools for you to be using – happy posting!

One thought on “How much automation is OK in social media?

  1. Pingback: Automate Your Life | List Producer

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