Should you, or shouldn’t you, automate social media posts? On one hand, it could save you loads of time and effort. but, on the other hand, it can seem impersonal, and possibly come back to haunt you. So what’s the final verdict? Can you still get high levels of engagement and more followers with social media automation?
Brands Doing It Right
To further explore this topic, it’s a good idea to see what industry leaders Tweet post with automated Tweets and see how they’re doing. Retail giant Bloomingdale’s for example, still manages to receive positive engagement from their scheduled Tweets – especially if it’s about trendy topics like the start of the Fall season.
The company is also pretty strategic about WHEN to schedule their posts. For instance: as they know more people are likely to shop on weekends, that’s when they Tweet relevant photos, promotions, and other updates. This gives their automated Tweets a boost.
Another excellent example is fast food game player Taco Bell. When you have customers worldwide, it can be tough dealing with time zones. While you can definitely have social media marketers on-duty at different shifts, it saves more time to simply schedule Tweets to reach a broader audience.
A second reason is that your target market may not be active when you are (for instance, if your office hours are between 9am and 5pm, but most of your customers don’t go online until after 6pm). Automating Tweets at specific times lets your account remain active even as you do something else.
The Right and Wrong of Automation
Not all automation is bad. If executed properly, it will enhance your skills as a marketer. The key is identifying which aspects to automate. Twitter helps us out by giving us an overview of their automation rules plus a few suggestions.
It’s widely accepted that certain things, such as replies and Direct Messages (DMs) should not be automated. In fact, a couple of brands have been called out for their bad judgment using automating responses.
In the summer of 2014, Bank of America faced such a predicament when their Twitter-bot replied to a photo tweeted by an activist. As the original Tweet’s concept had nothing to do with needing customer assistance, the response was viewed as vapid and tasteless.
Content Marketing Institute’s Jonathan Crossfield also advises against automated DMs because it sounds too impersonal. He argues the short amount of time it takes to respond genuinely is worth the extra effort coming from a human.
What should you automate for maximum effectiveness?
Random Tweets (weekend shout-outs, inspiring quotes, etc.), curated content (people love relevant and fascinating lists!), and links to your personal content (blog posts, videos, guest posts, etc.)
When scheduling a @mention, do so with caution. Twitter recommends you inform people in advance if you plan to mention them for specific purposes (such as when posting links to their content, as an example). Although it may seem harmless, some folks are strict about their privacy, and they may not allow for surprise Twitter mentions.
You shouldn’t assume that doing everything manually on social media will guarantee the most engagement. Here are some suggestions to get the most out of automation tools:
Create a database of important information, such as links you automated, times, dates, and list of people you want to mention in advance. Don’t forget to generate a backup!
Ensure that you’re not posting the same content on various social platforms on the same day. This may annoy your followers and lead them to unfollow or unsubscribe. Your database and chosen scheduler tool should be your guides to avoid this issue.
Check that your scheduler tool allows you to immediately pause automatic Tweets if the need arises. This is in anticipation of significant, unpredictable events. If there’s been a national disaster for example, it would be tactless to keep producing random Tweets that are unrelated to the episode.
Buffer, Tweetdeck, and Hootsuite are three of the best scheduling tools out there. Each have free versions that let you try the most popular features at no cost. Don’t hesitate to upgrade once you find an application that suits you best. Most marketers that upgrade are happy with their decision, but of course, this should be determined by your needs and objectives.
According to HubSpot, Tweets with images are 34% more likely to get engagement than those with plain text, and lucky for us marketers, scheduling tools make it easy to include images in Tweets.
Allow at least 10 to 15 minutes a day checking your Twitter for engagement from automated posts. Use this time to check on your followers, reply to comments, reTweet relevant updates, and edit the settings of your scheduler (if necessary). Logging in everyday – even for just a short time – lets you see breaking news that might affect your scheduled Tweets.
As much as we’d love to be online 24/7, it’s not possible, at least for small teams. Large organizations, especially global ones, can assign various employees to manage a Twitter account around the clock. For most of us, though, we have other roles we need to play, both in our professional lives, and our personal one too. But, knowing we have the social media tools to automate our content is a useful way to stay productive even when we’re offline.
Don’t Forget To Be ‘Social’ on Social Media
One of the main reason marketers advise against automation is because some people don’t quite know what to automate. Too often in our quest for productivity do we leave out other, important elements. Even though it’s called “social media,” it seems like we’re not very social with each other online at all. Instead, it feels like a never-ending stream of news, information, and promotions.
Twitter and other major platforms exist to help build and engage your community, allowing people to share thoughts, ideas, and encourage each other. We can’t automate empathy, sincerity, and genuine joy, but we can use technology to help us. The challenge for today’s marketers is to strike a balance between productivity and human connection. Even with all the noise online each day, you can stand out on Twitter and maintain your unique voice.