Technology and computers have always fascinated me. They make life so much easier and I really can’t imagine ever having to pass a math class without a T9 graphing calculator
However, there is such a thing as too much technology. Our smartphones consume us, our emails are always open on our home desktop, even a two-hour flight without Wi-fi is torture. Which leads me to think – where do we draw the technology line in the marketing world?
Social media marketing automation software and third-party applications have created so many opportunities for businesses to reach new consumers they never thought they could, and essentially allowed the inbound/content marketing industry to be created. But, is there such a thing as “too much” marketing automation? Where’s the balance? Where should the human come into play? Let’s examine the top advantages and disadvantages of marketing automation for social media purposes and where businesses have gone wrong in the past.
5 Advantages of Social Media Automation
Obviously, social media automation is easy. It’s so easy. It’s almost too convenient. Third-party applications like Hootsuite and Buffer allow marketers to schedule posts at a specific time, on a specific platform. Distribution of your content has never been a more efficient process.
You can optimize your posting times. Even more third-party applications like SocialBro and SocialFlow will delve deep into your social media accounts and find out what time they are most engage, and therefore when you should post your content. This takes out the guesswork in distribution and is especially important for social sites like Twitter, where posts have a shelf life of about 18 minutes and can easily get lost in the clutter.
That 12-hour time difference doesn’t matter anymore. With social media automation and the ability to schedule your posts, you’re able to be tweeting at the other side of the globe in your sleep. This again means a larger audience, more opportunities, and more eyes directed at your content.
Consistency is key. Social media automation allows you to consistently be posting content. And consistent content distribution means that your followers will come to view you as a reliable expert. You are always there with some educational information when they need it and because of this, they will become more and more loyal to your feed.
Go green with your content. I mentioned that a shelf life of a single tweet is about 18 minutes and, which let’s face it sucks, but with marketing automation you can easily recycle this content. I also mentioned that consistently posting content is essential, so automation ensures you’ll never run out of content to post. Simply repost a content piece with different messaging and be sure to leave enough time in-between each repost.
Now, for the 5 Disadvantages
With every positive comes a negative, or at least a small risk of something going wrong.
Machine versus the humans. Social media automation is easy, remember? Well it’s also easy to sound too robotic. While the posts may come from you, they can easily lack human engagement. Tweeting in real-time can show emotion, genuine thoughts and a personality. You lose all that through a machine.
It’s obvious who is really doing the posting. You’re giving yourself away by using social media automation. Third-party applications (while so great for the reasons above) betray you a little here and tell your followers you used them to post the content. Facebook and Twitter posts clearly state they were “posted via Hootsuite” and the same with Buffer. As a reader, I hate seeing this because it reads as an advertised article and not as educational content.
The scheduling feature can betray you, too. Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you should post 24/7. Don’t just push out content solely to push out content, because again, this makes your business less genuine. I’ve caught on to small businesses who post every hour on the hour – and it’s very obvious there’s not a true person sitting behind that keyboard. Companies like DiGiorno, Oreo and Old Spice have adopted a specific persona and a personality shines through.
Back to those third-party applications… It seemed like I was big fan of the third-party applications before, right? They have many, many benefits, but as a business you have to be super careful when utilizing them. One crucial mistake I’ve seen was made with If This Then That (IFTTT), or a similar platform. In 2012, Progressive was involved in a court case where they 1) failed to pay insurance on a death caused by an automobile and 2) defended the person responsible for the accident and the death in order to save money. As you can imagine, people expressed their outrage on social media. And the way Progressive responded was the issue:
As opposed to expressing emotion and sincerity about the severe-ness of the case, Progressive used a robot to auto-reply the same message to every single person.
Neglect. You schedule a bunch of tweets and Facebook posts and then you’re done right? For awhile, but don’t forget to check your accounts for questions, replies, favorites, etc. In my eyes, companies that are solely posting their own content are not interested in making real connections. Besides posting your own content, reply to those who are discussing similar topics, retweet any industry articles, and actively engage with users by favoriting their tweets.
What to do, what to do?
Social media automation seems great if you pull it off correctly, but there are so many chances to screw up, should you just stay away from it completely? Absolutely not! Find a balance between automating your content and having a person reaching out to consumers at the same time. Here’s how.
Golden Rules of Automation
- Schedule, but not too far in advance. Schedule posts for the upcoming two to three days, no more than that. Also leave some time to make changes to posts in case of some unforeseen event.
- Analyze your audience. How much automation do you need? How much personality do you need? If you are targeting older professionals, then they might not need as much personality and spark, and can auto-publish more content. However, Millennials thrive on real-time pictures, video, memes, jokes, etc. They are constantly connected so if you can be too, all the better.
- Change up your strategy. Use automation to test everything – timing, tone, content, clicks, new followers, what message worked, what flat lined, etc. And use those results to continuously update your online marketing strategy.
Remember that you will only get what you put into social media. So if you put in a ton of automated tweets, you’ll get very little personal responses. But if you have fun with social media and let a personality shine through, you’ll likely see higher engagement rates. Find the appropriate balance – it will pay off!
How are you using automation? Have you seen success with it? Comment below!