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For small business owners, automation tools can be incredibly useful things. But, like all tools, relying too heavily on social media automation will end in tears.
Maintaining a brand identity and personality on social media is an important part of the relationship you want to have with your customers, and automation can damage that if not used properly.
With that in mind, here are a few tips on the tools that are available, and how to use them correctly.

When to Automate

Not everything should be automated. It’s useful to keep in mind that automation is not engagement, and when it goes wrong it really goes wrong.

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That being said, it is definitely worth curating your content and deciding what can be scheduled and triggered. Automating your RSS feed or blog posts is a good example. Never automate customer interactions.

Picking Your Automation Tools

Even if you have a dedicated team working round the clock, there will always be times when you don’t have anyone to post on your behalf. Scheduling posts is a great way to maintain a consistent online presence when that happens. Having a posting plan for the near future means you can ensure you post the right content at the right time.
Third party tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer, Yoono, Postcron and Social Oomph all have scheduling functions.

Digital automation tools exist that can connect apps to channels; feeds to documents; SMS to your wifi toaster; an infinite combination of data streams that can automate processes across platforms and apps you probably didn’t even realise existed.

Using these tools, such as IFTTT (If This Then That) and Zapier, you can even archive social posts for future analysis.

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Staying Tuned

Monitoring your social media engagements and feeding that data back into your automation will improve and refine the process, telling you which content performs best and when.
Tools like SocialBro, Mention, Tweriod and Hubspot Social Inbox are ideally suited for this and often work well with other automation tools (Mention plugs into Buffer for example).
This means you can spend more time connecting with the people that matter to your business and focus on top level customer engagement.

Don’t schedule too far ahead

With this much automation at your fingertips, it can be easy to forget that staying relevant and on topic is just as important as being consistent. Avoid scheduling too far in advance or your message will be lost. Don’t be afraid of hitting pause on your well-crafted schedule and posting spur-of-the-moment content, it will keep your audience engaged.

If you have any tips on automation or can recommend some amazing tools then please feel free to comment below.

 

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