There are not many words in social media marketing that have quite the negative connotation that automation has. Automation doesn’t always have to be a bad thing and it can actually have a positive effect on your social media marketing as a whole. In this post, we’ll look at how you can enhance your social media marketing strategy using automation tools without hurting it.
Positive Forms of Social Media Automation & Their Benefits
First, let’s look at the good side of social media automation—the things you can do that will help with your social media strategy as a whole.
Scheduling great content shares in your industry.
People love to consume content, and the more content you share with your followers, the more they will appreciate you and look to you as an authoritative resource in your industry. By automating (to an extent) the content you share, you will keep your profiles up to date while opening up more time to do more personalized interactions.
There are three ways you can automate content sharing. The best way is to not fully automate, but review the leading sources of content within your industry on a daily basis by subscribing to those sources using tools like Feedly…
…and schedule the best pieces of content to be shared on your social accounts using tools like Buffer.
While a little more time consuming, you will be personally vetting the content to make sure it is the best for your followers.
The second way is to pick leading experts in your industry, find the author-specific RSS feed on the sites they contribute to, and plug that in to services like IFTTT, which allow you to create recipes that say if a new item appears on the author-specific RSS feed. You can then add it to your Buffer. This is a good strategy because you won’t have every post from Mashable, Search Engine Land or similar blogs going out every day. Because no matter how great a blog is, every piece of content is not going to fit your audience.
The third way is to just grab a blog’s RSS feed and have every new post automatically send to your social profiles. While you’ll have a ton of content, the downside is you won’t be vetting that content. Again, not every post on a blog will be a good fit for your followers. Plus, if you’re feeding blogs that post dozens of times a day to your social accounts, you might actually overwhelm your followers to the point that they unfollow you.
Scheduling your own content shares.
One source of content that you know you will want to share with your followers on a daily basis is your own. Automating the distribution of your own content on your social channels just ensures that you won’t miss a chance to promote your content, and you’ll have one less thing to do each day so you can focus on more personalized engagements.
Use of author-specific RSS feeds is good in this application as well if A) you have multiple authors on your blog and B) you and your team contribute to other blogs. This allows you to share a new post with the author’s Twitter handle included in tweets using the IFTTT/Buffer approach.
Scheduling engagement-geared updates.
Depending on your industry, you have two options. You can post engagement-geared updates (questions posted to encourage discussion) daily based on the latest industry news, or you can schedule engagement-geared updates to post to your accounts on a daily basis. The latter allows you to focus more on the discussion on a daily basis than having to come up with a new topic idea for discussion.
By scheduling these kinds of updates, you can also align them with other aspects of your marketing. For example, you can schedule a question related to a topic you will post about on your blog for the day before to generate some interest. If you are launching a product at the end of the month, you can ask questions leading up to the launch that gets people excited about the product.
Negative Forms of Social Media Automation & Their Consequences
Now, let’s look at the most offensive of the social media automation strategies, and their consequences.
Automated direct messaging is probably the most hated of social media automation. You will find many Twitter users who will immediately unfollow anyone who auto-direct messages them, no matter what the direct message says. With impersonal messages, your direct messages will essentially look like this in someone’s inbox.
If you want to direct message someone, do it with personalization so they know you are not using an automated program. All you have to add in is their first name, assuming it’s a personal account. This will get their attention and separate you from auto-DM spam.
Automating replies to tweets.
Chances are, if you’ve ever tweeted about iPads, loans, guaranteed emergency lending services, or similar topics, you’ve received some kind of automated reply to your tweet. There are tools out there that can allow you to set up a specific keyword search and a tweet to reply with any time that keyword is mentioned on Twitter. The goal is automated lead generation—someone says iPad, you tweet that you’ve got a great sale on iPads.
Of course, people could mention a keyword for different reasons. I may say, for example, that I just bought a new iPad or I hate my new iPad. Neither of these would make an automated “buy from our inventory of reduced-priced iPads” reply appropriate, and the automated reply strategy would only make you more likely to be marked as a spammer.
For lead generation purposes, you should absolutely set up keyword searches related to your business’s products and services. But before replying to anyone who tweets those keywords, you need to review their tweet and reply (when appropriate) with a custom response.
Cross-posting is actually both a good and bad thing. For example, if you post the same update to Google+ that you do to your Facebook page, such as a link to an article, that’s not necessarily bad because some people are going to see your Google+ update but not your Facebook update, and vice versa.
The bad cross-posting is when you have all of your tweets automatically fed to your Facebook page. Why? Because there are lots of tweets that simply won’t make sense on your Facebook page, such as replies to other people and network-specific hashtags like #followfriday mentions. You also don’t want the opposite—a Twitter feed full of cross-posts from your Facebook page.
By doing this, you don’t give people a reason to follow you on both networks. And for those who just follow you on one, such as your Facebook page, they may get tired of your Twitter updates (assuming they see them at all) and then un-like your page.
Keeping It Relevant
No matter what you choose in the way of social media automation, answer honestly if the automation is good for your customers, your fans and your business. If you can’t say yes to all three, then it’s probably a good idea to skip. If you do say yes, don’t just assume that it will work. Monitor your social analytics to tell you if auto-scheduled posts get clicks, comments and shares. If they don’t, then change your strategy.