Managing Social Media for your brand is no easy feat and sometimes can get overwhelming. This is especially true if you have limited resources, and have to worry about the myriad of other activities that also require your immediate attention.
Enter automation, which can allow you to significantly cut the amount of time needed to stay on top of your online presence and free up time and resources for other tasks. A word of caution, however, is that social media automation can only take you so far. Your customers still want to know that it’s a real person behind the posts, and excessive automation can turn your audience off you completely.
You should use social media automation when:
You’re out of town
You’re going to be away on vacation for a week, and will not be able to dedicate the same amount of time to social media as you generally would. You can use automation website tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer, SproutSocial, HubSpot, Social Oomph and Social Flow to schedule messages in advance so that your social channels continue to put out the content your audience has come to expect.
Additionally, it can give you peace of mind that your tweets are lined up and free up more time to interact with your community and respond to questions rather than worrying about delivering content.
You have repetitive tasks
If there are certain repetitive tasks which you find yourself performing every day (such as a ‘good morning’ message, a weekly email, or a blog post from a company you post from every day), it can make sense to automate these.
You’re struggling for content
Social media automation can be used as filler content for when inspiration refuses to hit and you simply do not have quality content for your visitors. At times like this, you can repurpose older tweets that performed particularly well to promote the content again and really get the most out of it.
You know to personalize it
Ensure that your automated messages do not sound like robots by taking the time to personalize every one of them the same way you would a non-automated tweet. This also goes for outsources social media: whoever is in charge of posts should be aware that you expect a certain level of personalisation in the content.
You’re away from your desk
Using automation for your answering service is a great idea. Make sure you set your customer service hours on Facebook and Twitter, and additionally set an away message on Facebook letting people know that you have received their complaint and will deal with it during office hours. The same applies to Twitter, where you can have an automated reply to DMs to the tune of “Thanks for reaching out! We’re happy to help!” and perhaps a link to your FAQs.
However, automation done incorrectly can be more disastrous than not having social media at all. It can permanently tarnish your reputation and make you lose the trust of your following.
When NOT to use social media automation:
To send Direct Messages
Hand in hand with posts that sound robotic, do not make DMs part of your social media strategy as they almost always come across as spammy and annoying. If you want to DM someone, it should be based on a real conversation with a real person. Automating it serves no purpose except to alienate people.
To post cookie-cutter messages
Do not use the same messages across platforms: there are platform specific things you need to keep in mind to optimize your scheduled messages. For example, Twitter has a 140 character limit, so you would make every character count, cut out redundancy, and utilize hashtags efficiently. On Facebook, you can provide more details, add an image or a video to increase engagement.
When you don’t intend to monitor it
Don’t schedule and walk away. Keep coming back periodically to monitor your scheduled posts to add timely adjustments. The link to the story you scheduled last week could have updated during that time, more relevant information could be available, or the post itself could now be too dated or obsolete. Read everything you’re posting. If you’re using RSS/Atom feeds to automatically send articles, make sure that you periodically scan the content to make sure that there is no inappropriate material in it, and also to generally weed out low-quality content.