Social media marketing takes time… and lots of it. One client referred to it as “feeding the monster,” a phrase I have adopted and use often. Of course, in my head, the monster is more like a Muppet than The Thing, but I digress.
Because it does take so much time – posting to Facebook, writing blogs, tweeting, and, most importantly, responding to your audience – it’s reasonable to want to automate some of the process. And there are good reasons to do so: covering time zones, creating efficiencies, making time to eat and sleep. But there are even better reasons NOT to automate some things … and even better than better reasons to avoid automation as much as possible on certain social media platforms. Here are four of them:
- Not all networks are created equal. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, our Page fans aren’t regularly going directly to our Pages to get news and updates from you. Instead, the vast majority of Facebook users get their information from their own News Feeds (your “Home” on Facebook). How items end up in users’ News Feeds is based on a number of factors, but using a third-party system to post to your Pages has been shown to significantly decrease engagement – potentially up to 80%! Edgerank goes in to more detail here. It’s hard enough to cut through the clutter; don’t make it harder on yourself. Best strategy? Post to Facebook directly with relevant, engaging, high-value and human content.
- Not all audiences are created equal. What I mean by this is that audiences on different social networks expect different types of content – or at least, different delivery styles. What works on Twitter may come across as far too brief and curt on your Facebook Page, and far too casual for LinkedIn. Two of the most important rules in PR are to know your audience and speak to them in ways that reflect that you know who you are talking to – this is as applicable to social media as it is to traditional media.
- Broadcasting shouldn’t be your strategy. Over-automation is one step away from ending up asleep at the wheel. Using social media channels to spread your message is fine, of course, but it’s simply not a one-way medium. A broadcast strategy is best left in your paid advertising plan. You need to respond, answer, and proactively engage. You can’t do that if you set up a week’s worth of posts on Monday and think you’re done.
- No one wants a relationship with a robot. Similar to #3, robots don’t make the best “Friends” (except on The Jetsons). People like people, not automated responses and dead air. If you think about how much automated phone systems can annoy you (and others), then don’t create the same environment with your social media marketing.
The bottom line is, there are some great uses for automation in social media marketing – scheduling (some) tweets, and setting up your blog to feed onto your LinkedIn profile or even your Facebook Page (if done well). But like so many other things, moderation is the best policy.