We've all seen automating your social media marketing crash and burn miserably, from brands and influencers alike. Because building a large social media following on any platform is tedious, time-consuming and downright tough, finding ways to cut corners and automate the process is attractive.
That being said, as seen with everything from spammy direct messages to unrelated, generic comments on your Tweets, it's clear many practitioners don't have it quite right yet. Here's how to do it right.
Know what you should and shouldn't automate.
There are do's and do not's when it comes to social media automation. For starters, you should almost never automate any communication between your company and its customers. This includes automatic replies, direct messages telling followers of your latest ebook they didn't ask for, or liking every Tweet that includes the words "pizza".
Remember, every follower's intent is different -- don't assume just because someone followed you or liked your post means they want you to contact them in the DMs. Just because someone connected with you on LinkedIn doesn't mean they want to set up a sales call with you.
Instead, only automate mundane tasks like publishing social media content, toggling between different platforms, data aggregation and similar steps.
Know what you're losing when you automate.
It's important to be aware of what you're losing when you automate your social media marketing. By not actively investing and being present on your social media channels as a business or business owner, you're placing yourself at a massive disadvantage relative to competitors that are. Nowadays, consumers fawn over grounded, authentic brands -- and social media puts you in a great position to be casual, and earn a customer's hard earned dollars by doing so.
This is exactly why I tell my readers, clients and colleagues that less is more when it comes to deciding which social media platforms you'll be present on as a brand. Social media takes a lot of work, and being active enough to give thoughtful replies and engage in dialogues can give you a big advantage over a long period of time. Because of this, if you only have the bandwidth to crush it on Instagram because you've got a business to run, then put your eggs in that basket.
1. Use Hootsuite and Buffer to preschedule and monitor your social media.
The lowest hanging fruit when it comes to automating your social media marketing without losing your company's personal touch is prescheduling posts. With tools like Hootsuite, Buffer or Agorapulse, you can take an hour or two to queue up an entire month's worth of social media content across all networks.
Another massive benefit of these tools is getting a high level view of the social media activity most important to you in one convenient dashboard -- from likes to mentions to comments.
2. Take advantage of data aggregation tools.
Instead of manually combing through each social media channel's individual insights, analytics and data, why not combine them into a single place using a tool like Sprout Social or Awario? This will allow you to see what kind of content is resonating best with your audience, enabling you to make sound business decisions on the go. If you're tired of spreadsheets and calculators, investing in these tools could be worthwhile.
3. Automate social media monitoring with Zapier and IFTTT.
Monitoring social media to see what customers and prospects alike are actually saying about your company can be a game-changer, but it's also insanely time-consuming. To help you out, use automation tools like Zapier and IFTTT to your advantage. For instance, you can set up Zaps on Zapier to alert you every time someone Tweets a certain keyword (like your company name), then compile them into an Excel or Google Sheet for easy access. From there, you can scroll through and reply to those posts.
Another example of this at play could be setting up Zaps to alert you each time the words "pizza recommendations" are used on Twitter. If you own a pizza shop, you can swoop in and recommend that person try your pizza shop. Having memorable touch points like this can go a long way when it comes to building positive brand perception from the ground up.
The Main Point
Here's the reality: if you want to grow a strong, effective social media presence, you won't be able to automate much of the groundwork. Instead, you'll need to outsource the work to an agency, freelancer, or in-house specialist, or cut corners using the tips laid out in this article.
In marketing, it's all about allocating the right resources to get the highest return for your company -- through testing, determine where those resources will go, and continue from there.