Should Business use Social Media Automation Tools? – Marketing Magic Tips
6th October 2019
in Blog, Entrepreneurs, Marketing, Marketing Magic Tip, Small Business, Social media marketing, Startups, video blog
Social media is all about being quick and responsive these days, which are time-consuming and resource-intensive. So it is perhaps no surprise that automation technologies exist to make social media management less onerous. Businesses can take advantage of social media listening tools, scheduling tools, chat bots and much more that reduce the human aspect of our social media marketing. The ability to leverage social media is not an inherent skill. Instead, it is something that we learn over time through trial and error. This blog post is aimed at those types of people. In a world where social media arguably exists to stimulate connecting on a human level easier and further, the question is when is the automation of social media too much? This post explores whether businesses should use automation tools to magically update our statuses, post content and engage in our conversations with potential customers?
What are social media automation tools?
Social media automation software is used to automate or semi-automate the process of sharing posts and content on social media channels and manage virtually all of the big social networks including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn.
Twitter is perhaps far ahead in the proliferation of automation tools. Researchers’ estimates suggest that between 9% and 15% of active Twitter accounts are automated bots”. Since Twitter currently has 319 million monthly active users, that translates to nearly 48 million bot accounts.
It is worth bearing in mind that Emeric Ernoult warned far back in 2017 that Social Media Automation Will Eventually Kill Social Media (Unless We Do Something About It). In the current business environment in which everyone is busy, and we have limited time in the day to spend on managing our social media profiles, let’s focus on the benefits that automation can bring to a brand in the next section.
Benefits of using social media automation tools
Marketing influencer Jeff Bullas emphasises the time you save working on your marketing strategy through the assistance of social media automation tools. Sprout Social goes as far as saying that “One way to stay competitive in modern business is to automate as many of your processes as possible”. Social media automation tools provide an invaluable way for businesses to be more efficient and make the most of your time and resources to enhance your community’s experience. They help you build an engaging social media presence that gets clicks and drive visitors to your website who can become prospective customers.
These days, there is a tool for everything. Proper use of automation tools helps to perform routine and time-consuming social media tasks, including these.
- Schedule social media posts
Given the quantity of content that is generated by today’s content marketing, scheduling posts for distribution can be incredibly time consuming and labour intensive. It is impractical to start every day putting a post together and publishing them on multiple social media platforms, and then repeating the process several more times more during the day. The risk with this strategy that many businesses find is that it is all too easy to miss your intended posting times.
Thankfully, there are fantastic posts-scheduling tools like my personal favourite, Buffer, that allow you to create several social media posts for the major social networks at each sitting to go out on the date and times that you set. I love Buffer’s facility to upload the correctly sized images for each platform as well as write platform-specific messages. With Buffer, I can get weeks’ worth of social media posts scheduled and ready to publish as needed while I get on with the other tasks involved in running a business or writing posts like this one. Buffer is also known for its comprehensive analytics. If you want to know how your social media strategy is working, then the tool will certainly be of great help. The platform often upgrades as they add new functionality to make social media marketing easier. There are different packages that users can pick according to their needs. Besides posting your content automatically, it can also suggest the best time to post and allows you to repost old content.
- Social listening
Businesses benefit from knowing when people mention their brand on social media and what their clients are saying about them. Using Hootsuite and SproutSocial, you can also monitor conversations that feature relevant hashtags for your Business. Listening tools, therefore, help to perform brand monitoring in real-time so that you can respond instantaneously.
This facility can be invaluable in terms of picking up and responding to complaints and user-generated content that could avert a crisis. You can also respond to enquiries and provide customer service using these platforms as they enable you to get in touch with your clients and resolve their queries on the go.
- Build your network
Tools exist that enable you to manage your connections on social networks. Crowdfire and Unfollow, for example, show you who has un-followed you so you can decide whether to carry on being connected with them or stop following them yourself.
Crowdfire also lets you find new Twitter connections by allowing you to see followers of your competitors and people who meet various targeting criteria, for example, active accounts, accounts in different business sectors and geographical locations. Auto – messaging new connections is another facility that Crowdfire enables, so you can set automated welcome, holding and sales messages in response to interactions from your community.
- Find trending topics and content to repost
Buzzsumo and Postplanner are two of the best ways to discover the trending topics and posts related to your brand or brand-relevant keywords. You can also see the analytics to go with the content and how you can make the most of it. These are tools for curating content from other sources that you can share as-is or share with your message or opinion. You can share your curated posts across social media platforms with the push of a button.
- Auto respond to your community
Chatbots allow brands to set up a platform to give pre-programmed responses to questions and enquiries, usually in Direct Messaging platforms of social networks. You can program chatbots to respond the same way each time, to react differently to messages containing specific keywords and more.
The software is becoming so advanced that some chatbots are capable of machine learning and work out their responses that should better fit situations for which they are not programmed. The potential of chatbots to bring savings in terms of reducing human staffing requirements and time should be evident. As the following graphic shows, brands utilise auto-responding tools for a wide variety of purposes.
I feel deceived when I don’t get an appropriate response to my issue from a chatbot. The fact that brands rarely inform people at the start of the conversation that you are talking to a program increases my frustration.
Whether you are a small business owner or a marketing professional in a medium or large corporation, these automation tools could be of great assistance to you in managing your social network presence and providing services to your social media community. The premise of this post is that businesses should decide whether or not to use social media automation tools? Perhaps that is not the real question as automation brings benefits. I particularly like Gareth Moon’s brilliant description of the use of automation best of all when he wrote that “The difference is using what I call “smart-o-mation” rather than “spam-o-mation”. His description emphasises the fact that automated social media marketing can be used to good effect and also abused for less than reputable activities as we will discover in the remainder of this post when we examine the dangers of depending on automation tools.
The dangers of social media automation
Social media marketing automation, by definition, is anti-social. Automation implies a one-way, “spray and pray” type strategy. However, the reality of modern-day social media marketing is that it makes sense to automate some tasks. Similarly, there are many tasks that brands often mistakenly automate to their detriment when you consider that social media for businesses is still about engaging in meaningful conversations as a real, live human.
Moreover, it is worth reminding ourselves that the developers of these tools have a vested interest in talking up the overwhelming benefits of automation. Ernoult poses some pointed grounds to doubt their cure-all abilities as follows: “Are you kidding us? Do you really think our “voice” can be automated? Our content production can manage itself? We can honestly set our presence on social media once and forget it?”
Let’s look at the tasks for which automation may not be the ideal strategy:
- Auto-follow programs that will automatically make you a Twitter follower of anyone who follows you exist. The risk is that you are not selective about with whom you connect and your brand appears to endorse. Given that social media is full of the weird and the odd, you want some control over your new connections.
- Auto-responders that send automatic “Thank Yous” when someone tags you in a post or follows you are out there. While it might seem like a good idea to appear to be super-responsive, in reality, auto-responding is quite annoying as most people want a personalised acknowledgement from a person, not a bot’s response.
- The is a risk that tools which repost content to your social networks’ as-is’ could cause more harm than good. Auto-posting content you have not seen or approved means that without adding unique social content (the text with the post itself) then you are just acting like a spam bot. By automatically scheduling posts that only include the title of the article you are sharing, rather than unique messaging, you deny yourself the benefit of sharing your brand’s insight with your community.
- Auto-commenting tools post comments that all look the same, and people can tell that the comment is robotic usually because the feedback is out of context with the post. For example, it is a bit of a giveaway when someone comments on my Instagram post how much they love my photo and then suggest a setting that I could have used to enhance the image on my video post. The same goes for random emoji comments – Don’t bother!
- While some chatbots warm our hearts, others drive us crazy. People message your Business for many different reasons, and each person expects a personalised, nuanced response that automation tools can rarely provide. Given that most of us know when we are talking with a machine and in most cases despise doing so, the risks to your business are huge.
- Scheduled posts have the potential to make a brand look automated, irrelevant, outdated, or just plain This can happen when you repost the same content too many times or if you curate and auto-schedule content that when published, is insensitive or out of context.
- Browse Media tells the story of a disastrous social media post resulting from an automated curated posts tool that you can see in the following graphic.
In 2016, The Oscars faced a backlash after announcing an all-white nomination line-up for the second year in a row, despite a host of impressive performances from black actors and directors that year. So when Total Beauty posted a tweet showing admiration for Oprah Winfrey at the awards, it seemed like a powerful way for the brand to show support for women of colour in Hollywood. Except that’s not Oprah. That’s Whoopi Goldberg. Total Beauty was quick to remove the tweet and apologise but, as expected, the sharper Twitter users had already seized the moment to name and shame the cosmetics company for their ignorance
You can find many more cringe-worthy social media posts disasters HERE
- Automation can get you banned from social networks because users can report accounts based on social media platforms’ stance on bots beingthat they like them if they are useful or entertaining but want to get rid of any spammy or annoying ones.
The fact is that people don’t like being made to feel stupid, so underhand automation tactics will only alienate potential customers and do your brand more harm than good. Social Media is all about talking to your audience, providing value, and building and maintaining relationships. Arguably, automation tools cannot do these tasks, let alone do them well. There’s a common misconception that automation tools are meant to make social media marketing a completely hands-off process. This isn’t the case at all.
The use of automation requires a delicate balance between tools/human inputs because while social media automation tools can save you time and effort by doing some tasks superbly well, it’s not going to replace what needs to be done by a human. We will close by looking at the role of people in your brand’s social media strategy.
The human aspect of social media automation
Social Media for a business is still about engaging in meaningful conversations as a real, live human. To this end and to negate the dangers of abusing automation, a human still needs to:
- Have meaningful conversations with your social media community.
- Compose messages in posts so that you can add any hashtags, links or images you like.
- Keep your schedule of content fresh and exciting – you can’t just post the same content over and over without adding anything new).
- Proofread your content, always double-check for typos, misspellings and that you’ve got your facts straight before publishing on social networks. A typo might get laughed away, but an insensitive post can live forever in your customers’ minds.
- Vet every piece of content before it goes out in your brand’s name.
- Actively monitor your scheduled posts to ensure content that is irrelevant and outdated doesn’t get posted or keeps being reposted again and again.
These simple steps help to achieve a blend of human input and social media automation that can work to significant effect for your brand.
Bringing it all together
Social media automation, done correctly, can expand your community, bring traffic, and generate leads. The problem with automation tools on social networks comes when brands blatantly spam their social connections and communities. Spamming, in the end, will only serve to marginalise your brand within the social networks. Whereas, getting the human social aspect right while using automation to do the heavy lifting in social media marketing tasks can bring significant benefits in giving your Business an engaging presence and responsiveness. Be warned that by misusing or abusing social media automation tools, you will not only fail to get additional followers or clicks, but it will also establish you as a spammer and this is not what you want to be known for.
Global.Media provides expert online and offline advertising, and marketing on all digital platforms to get qualified leads for businesses. Check out our Services page to see how our advertising and marketing services can help your business to get more customers and sell more, faster. Why not sign up for our newsletter using the simple form on the right? You can also follow us on social networks. Finally, we’d love for you to share this post with your network using the share buttons below.
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6th October 2019