When to Automate Your Social Media
It’s difficult to be on social media 24/7. After all, we all do have lives beyond the online world. Whether you’re a brand trying to boost your business or a marketing agency managing multiple social accounts, you need to strike that perfect balance that makes your social media authentic, yet manageable. We’ll provide you with examples of when (and when not) to automate your social media, and offer tools to help you manage your social media efforts.
Scheduling content is definitely a time saver. But scheduling every piece of content weeks and months ahead of time can give off a not-so-genuine feel to your accounts. It’s okay to set up a few evergreen posts or interesting articles for the weeks ahead. That helps maintain a consistent presence online and not fall off the map for days on end. However, it’s wise to leave room for organic, timely posts to be created on the spot. For example, situations like #TheDress (black and blue versus white and gold) definitely call for an on-the-spot approach (if you feel it’s worth posting about). Same goes if something exciting happens at your workplace that you feel is post worthy.
Social Media Examiner gave some excellent examples as to when to schedule content for Instagram:
“Here are some instances when it is appropriate to schedule Instagram content ahead of time. Conferences: If you’re attending or running a conference, schedule out a few updates to post during the conference, such as Instagram videos that pertain to certain sessions. Record special messages to your fans to tell them what you’re doing and that you will share more information afterwards. Travel: Will you be on an airplane without WiFi or traveling to a location that doesn’t have the best Internet connection? Record videos or share photos of some of the places at your destination. To get your followers involved, share the location and ask for recommendations in the comments. When you get to a reliable connection, respond to your audience. Large Blocks of Down Time: If you know you’re taking a break from your Instagram audience for a few hours (at the gym, a doctor’s appointment or meeting), don’t leave your audience hanging. Schedule a few updates so you can continue to add value for your followers. For example, create tips or positive affirmations in the form of quotes with images or short videos. Then schedule them on Instagram. Content Promotion: Pull out snippets from your blog posts to use in an Instagram update. (Create this similarly to the quote posts mentioned above.) This is akin to a drip campaign, but done through Instagram. The goal is to provide a valuable piece of information for your audience and to drive them back to your website to read the full article.”
Content Scheduling Tools:
- Buffer (Free)
- Hootsuite (Free)
- Sprout Social (Paid) – It’s what we use!
- Meet Edgar (Paid)
- Schedugram (Paid)
- Latergramme (Free)
- TakeOff (Free)
- Union Metrics (Paid)
Engagement should be mostly organic.
Stop sending everyone an automated direct message when they follow you on Twitter. Your first impression shouldn’t be a scripted greeting that is completely generic and spammy. Instead take the time to send a simple thank you and recognize the follower by name. They’ll appreciate that much more. Remember, authenticity is key when being in the social realm. People are using it to connect and share with humans, not robots.
One example we witnessed of an automated engagement gone wrong was on Instagram. Someone shared an image from a news story about a child that had been abducted and eventually found dead. In the comment thread, we found an account that responded with “Nice Pic!” – something that comes off as completely out of place and reflects a lack of consideration for the issue at hand. Lesson to be learned: Avoid setting up auto-commenting tactics as it could lead to some very awkward situations and potentially a PR nightmare for your brand. You can find more marketing automation fails here.
Other elements worth automating involve finding accounts that are relevant and following them. For instance, creating a twitter list based on anyone that uses a particular hashtag is a great way of subtly engaging an account and creating a research/organization tool for you to use moving forward.
Social Engagement Tools:
Automate social listening and research (to an extent).
As we mentioned with the Twitter lists, it’s a great resource to know who is talking about topics of interest in your industry. There are plenty of ways to stay in the loop and discover conversations that are relevant to your business. For instance, following specific hashtags is great to see what content is being shared for a particular topic. This is crucial because it can reveal the values, interests and preferences of your audience. What better way to connect with customers than by showing that you know and understand their passions?
There’s a wealth of data out there, and it’s difficult to aggregate and compile it manually. That’s where you can take advantage of the tools and resources available. The main priority is analyzing the results and making data-driven decisions based on them. You can do that by setting up automated data collection methods based on the specific criteria you’re searching for. In other words, focus more on analysis and less on manually collecting data.
Social Listening and Research Tools:
- Follwerwonk (Free)
- Nuzzel (Free)
- Manage Flitter (Paid)
- Mention (Free)
- Tweekly (Free)
- Encore Alert (Free)
Be sure to keep the concept of authenticity in mind prior to using any automation on social media. If you feel that it will significantly affect the real, relatable factor of your brand, then don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Staying in tune with the latest apps and platforms can keep your brand ahead of the curve. You never know when the next awesome tool can improve your workflow and save you time. Don’t just work hard, work smart.