As a busy marketer who constantly has to battle time and campaigns the question of automating your social media updates is probably a possibility that has crossed your mind more than once. But what are the benefits and what are the disadvantages of going the automation route? Will choosing to schedule your social media work for you or will it have a negative impact on your particular line of business? There are strong arguments for both, but the bottom line is that you should choose what works for you.
If you choose not to automate…
The biggest plus side of choosing to not make use of automation tools is that your engagement on social media platforms will be close encounters will followers. You will be able to respond and engage your audience in real time and, considering how short the shelf life of a tweet is, this is a good thing.
On the down side, if you your following grows at a rapid rate you might not be able to keep up in a meaningful way or consistently. You may also miss the opportunity of reaching a whole host for potential followers simply because of time zone differences.
Opting to not make use of scheduled updates will work well for a small business who is still building its audience. The deeply personal interaction will certainly build and keep your following.
Choosing to automate
There are many tools available to use for automation. Considering that Hubspot’s social media publishing tool sets you up to send as many tweets, Facebook updates, LinkedIn updates and Google+ updates per day as you like, it arguably makes sense to use it. Either way, there is right and wrong way to use automation, if you choose to go that route.
The Automation Pitfalls
You use it too often and all the time. This is the biggest issue most people have with automated updates. Immediately it feels robotic and soon your audience will tire of knowing that they are reading your tweets but that you are not reading theirs. There needs to be room for some ad hoc posting. You also can’t just set up the schedule and then forget about it. You need to check in and respond. Finding the right balance of updates for each of the social networks you're participating in is also important. This means testing your ideal publishing frequency. Don’t forget the peak of the maximum amount of clicks you will receive for a link shared on Twitter is less than 3 hours, which means it’s perfectly acceptable to publish to twitter frequently.
Your updates sound robotic. Spend time planning and writing updates that have personal flair. Give it a voice so that sounds authentic.
Your content isn’t fresh and / or badly timed. Make sure that your updates include content that is relevant and interesting to your audience. It must be something that they care about and which is useful to them. Timing the content is also crucial. There’s nothing worse that scheduling the update promoting that free download without giving the audience enough time to get it.
You treat all social media networks equally. Make sure that you adjust your tone and the word length of the update accordingly. While Twitter restricts you to 140 characters it allows for easy addition of links; you can really write up a meaty expose on LinkedIn - which is what the LinkedIn audience of professionals appreciate; and Facebook posts are strongly enhanced by adding pictures or other media. Consider what to post where and how it has to be tailored for the other platforms before you mass produce and bulk up your updates.
Automation tools that could work for you
Buffer, Hootsuite are automation tools and Hubspot includes a powerful Social Media publishing and monitoring tool that assist in scheduling updates across the various social media platforms. They make it super easy to find a good mix between automation and personal engagement which we highly recommend.
Please also bear in mind that you might want to stop any scheduled posts in the case of some or other event happening. If disaster strikes you might want to pause your clearly automated messages for a while.
Whatever you decide, beware of the pitfalls for both options and consider a consultation with a social media expert so that you can feel confident in your decision. As part of an Inbound Marketing Strategy choosing whether to automate or not is on the agenda when putting a social media plan together.