When it comes to marketing, it's no secret that social media is one of the most time consuming tasks your business needs to conduct. Plus, when you have a business to run, answering passive aggressive Tweets from customers is probably the last thing on your mind. As a result of the amount of time social media marketing takes, automation has become a hot topic in recent years. 

While the intention behind social media automation is good, the execution is where many problems arise. Most who automate their social media simply resort to spammy, automatic messages that end up hurting their brand more than helping it. 

Spammy automation doesn't just get others annoyed with your brand though, it can also cause your brand to lose credibility in the eyes of potential customers. Perception is reality, and in today's marketplace where there are a hundred competitors lurking around every corner, you're only one "social media fail" or poor Yelp review away from losing an immense amount of cash flow.

Here are four rookie mistakes when it comes to social media automation you need to avoid at all costs, and what to do instead.

Rookie Mistakes to Avoid

1. Reaching out with automated direct messages.

On a daily basis, the amount of automated direct messages I receive with unsolicited pitch after unsolicited pitch is downright astounding. Just because someone says hello to you in the line at a grocery store doesn't mean they want you to ask them on a date. Similarly, just because someone follows you on social media doesn't mean they're obsessed with your brand and want to download your ebook or read your life's story.

Before you ask anyone for a favor, you've got to build rapport and provide them with tangible value.

2. Automatically sending "thank you" messages. 

Another common mistake I see is the automatic "thank you" messages sent any time that person is mentioned in a social media post. By not thoughtfully engaging with those who have taken the time out of their day to engage with you, you could potentially be missing out on a loyal customer. Next time, respond.

3. Buying fake followers.

Buying fake followers is a huge mistake. Plain and simple. While it may be tempting to buy followers, the benefits of validating yourself on social media are nowhere near the potential consequences. If you get exposed for having fake followers, any trust your brand has built up over the years could go down the drain. After all, who would do business with someone who isn't even honest enough to reveal their true follower count?

4. Using malfunctional chatbots for customer support.

One day, chatbots will be sophisticated enough to answer difficult questions and provide consumers with stellar, seamless customer experiences, but sadly that day hasn't come yet.

Remember, anything or anyone that has your logo on it (whether that's a chatbot, spokesperson or a promo item) will shape the way consumers perceive your brand. If your chatbot is leaving customers frustrated and unsatisfied, it's time to make some adjustments.

What To Do Instead

1. Use Hootsuite or Buffer to pre-schedule your content.

Pre-scheduling content is one of the easiest and effective ways to automate your social media. Anyone who has ever had to create content knows creativity isn't a light-switch you can turn on and off at will. Instead, it takes time to get into your "creative flow". By creating most of your content for the week in one sitting, you'll be optimizing your creative flow and you won't have to worry manually publishing social media updates.

2. Create a brand kit for your company.

Okay, creating a brand kit isn't technically automation, but it'll save you just as much time as any type of automation will. Defined, a brand kit is a set of templates where a company agrees on their color palette, types of fonts and more, which will then be used on all marketing materials for means of consistency.

Not only will the consistency make your brand appear more professional to social media audiences, you'll also never have to worry about re-creating templates, deciding on fonts or toying around with color schemes again because it will all be predetermined.

3. Use IFTTT and Zapier to your advantage.

IFTTT and Zapier are both tools where users can create "triggers" to automatically perform functions across different platforms. Whether you're looking to automatically send out Tweets each time you publish an article, republish your Instagram posts to Facebook or anything else, IFTTT or Zapier will likely have a trigger to help.

Social media automation is a beautiful thing, but only when it's done correctly. To avoid looking tacky as hell, it's best to test the waters a bit before diving headfirst. Thanks for reading and best of luck.