Social marketing automation has been a popular choice for businesses over these last few years because it takes the pressure off the individual that would otherwise need to continuously find and update their social media feeds.
An hour of work finding content to be shared on a social network, while peppering sales copy, is enough to prime a social feed for the week which makes it extremely attractive to say the least. However, it creates a situation which defeats the purpose of social media if businesses and individuals rely too heavily on the automation…
Social becomes anti-social.
The purpose of social media is to interact with others and when feeds are predominantly populated by automatic posting there is little social interaction truly going on. It’s very easy to forget about social feeds when it’s been setup for automation so there are missed opportunities such as the case when followers begin asking questions.
Facebook has started incentivizing rapid response rates for page admins which goes to show you there’s a reason why you may not want to set it and forget it.
So we come back to the original question: How much is too much automation?
You don’t have to glue yourself to your screen or phone awaiting every message you receive on your social feeds. It’s great if you can respond within a few minutes but all is not lost if you’re currently busy and need time to get back to your feeds.
Automation works best when it’s during the off-hours or if you still plan to pepper your feeds with recent information and content. If you set your feed to automatically post based on an hour or two of content you found during the weekend you’re missing out on the ability to post recent events which could create great engagement to your brand.
Here could be a sample game plan if you’d like to combine automation with a personal touch:
Go ahead and find great pieces of content that will be shared during the peak hours of social media activity; these pieces should be evergreen so that your followers find real value in following your brand. You can find these by digging through popular posts and using aggregators (like Reddit); it would be best to source this content from a variety of well-known and obscure sources to add variety.
Set a schedule where you check in on your social feeds during those peak hours of the day. During this time respond to questions and comments coming through your feed. Also create reference points to content that answer questions in a deeper manner. Creates scripts and other quick responses if you’re short on time so that you can hold off your answer until you have the time to give a proper response.
Weigh the benefits and drawbacks of hiring an employee just to handle the social media. First check with your analytics to find the return on investment so that you may justify the hiring. If social isn’t a major part of your overall brand engagement and sales then don’t fret about making a large investment (reverse that statement if you find that it is).
Encourage your followers to become brand ambassadors. Reward your followers if they become the individuals that respond to criticism, answer questions, or point others to important resources. You’ll find many that are more than willing to be a part of the bigger picture because it places them in the spotlight; play on this and you’ll create a self-sustained community.
Be sure to add in recent events and other trending topics when you find something interesting. Structure in social media gets boring so if you’re relying on a post going out at 9, 12, 3, 6, and 9 then you’re really missing out on the whole social experience. Have fun with it – don’t just treat it as some marketing platform that’s only purpose is to cram sales copy to your followers.
Use the later hours to deliver detailed responses if you decided to use canned responses from earlier. Keep note of the common questions and begin creating resources so that later on you may point people to the general direction and save yourself some time.
Keep social… social. Automation can be great for populating your social feeds when you’re otherwise busy but it’s not the ultimate goal to just set it and forget it. Remember that there are people on the other end that are asking questions, grabbing their money to make a purchase, and need help with your products or services. Treat social like you would customer service and you’ll do great – just make sure you don’t become a robot in the process.