Face it: you've heard words like "engagement" and "transparency" used to describe social media so much that they’re more played out than a Lady Gaga song. Whatever adjectives you use to describe it, letting your personality shine through your brand's social media account is crucial to its success. But there’s a dichotomy in social media--a ubiquitous cloud looming over our online relationships and interactions. The evolution of technology has forced nameless corporations to become human and empowered small organizations to reach audiences on social media like never before. However, as soon as "human business tools" like Twitter and Facebook emerged, we found ways to automate our humanity.
Just like you can’t send a robot to a networking event to represent you, humanity can’t be automated, right? Well despite the importance of a personal approach to business, not all automation is sacrilegious . When used appropriately, it's actually quite good for the health of your business, brand, and online community. Let's take a look at what your social media automation strategy should include to ensure you're doing it the right way and not sacrificing the personal element that got your brand the social media success it's currently enjoying.
Use the Right Tools
There are some great tools out there that will help you automate your social media marketing, and HubSpot is one of them . Among the free tools available, HootSuite allows you to schedule your Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ updates in advance. If you're using their paid platform, updates can also be scheduled in bulk.
Regardless of the tool you choose, practice before you go hog wild drafting and scheduling your posts. The last thing you want is to make a silly mistake, like scheduling a month's worth of posts all in one day. Once you get the hang of the tool, set aside time at regular intervals to keep the social media content machine fed by responding to comments and engaging with fans and followers using a human voice.
Schedule Content at the Right Times
When are your fans and followers primarily active and interacting with you on their social networks? Monitor what times of day people read your content and interact with your brand on social media, and schedule your content for those days and times for maximum exposure .
That being said, you have to make sure it's also a good time for you. Only schedule posts when you can respond to the comments, replies, and mentions in a reasonable amount of time. This is imperative. Scott Stratten ( @UnMarketing ) often tells the story of a friend who scheduled a tweet that garnered a great deal of reaction and response from his audience. Replies on Twitter flooded in, and his audience waited with bated breath for his response. Unfortunately, his response wasn’t coming any time soon, because he was on a cruise without internet access for nearly a week. As a social media community manager , this could be devastating to your brand.
Diversify Content Across Social Media Sites
Many of your followers are probably connected with you on more than one social media network. So don't bore them by auto-pushing the exact same content on every network! Instead, leverage what each network is particularly excellent at.
For example, Facebook allows more lengthy explanations surrounding content you've linked to. Use that space to give some insightful commentary that elicits more click-throughs and comments. Google+ is particularly great for sharing images; leverage that format for your visual content. LinkedIn is a stellar lead generation mechanism , so give people an ebook that only the very niche audience on your LinkedIn group would be interested in. While a little overlap is natural and a-okay, the scheduling mechanisms in social media automation tools makes it so you can and should personalize all of your posts.
Stay True to Your Social Media Roots
Those who find success in social media do so because they’ve dedicated some serious time to interacting with their community . Using automation to carefully and respectfully supplement your social media activities can pose some obstacles and even result in negative backlash; people don’t want to feel like they’ve been duped by a "fake" you. Set up alerts to notify you when you’ve received a comment, reply, or message. That way, not only is the content you push out from the "real" you, but so is your timely response.
Not all automation is bad . Using it in moderation and when appropriate can increase your productivity and offer even more valuable content to your audience. Ensure that no matter when you post, you (or someone on your team) will be at the ready and able to address any responses in a timely manner.
Do you use schedule posts on your social media accounts? What are the pros and cons you've seen for your social media strategy ?
Image credit: Tachimetro