Over the past few years as social media has become a ubiquitous part of all our lives, one element has received an unfairly bad rap – social automation.
A lot of people equate automation with spam, and that’s just factually incorrect. Automation is an intelligent method of utilizing technology to execute repetitive tasks on your behalf, while spam is directly sending unsolicited messages to potential customers or clients. They couldn’t be more opposite in nature.
Any Social Media Manager (SMM) worth their salt automates a lot of their simple, recurring tasks to save them time which they can then reinvest into engagement of their community, as that is what we all really need to be doing. New York Times Best Selling Author Tim Ferriss speaks regularly about automation in many of his books, podcasts talks and blog posts, including the classic The Four Hour Work Week.
So the real question now is, how can you apply automation to your life? Let’s dive a little deeper.
Automate Your Posts
The best place to start is with automating your Content Calendar. So why would you want to even do this? Well, think about it. How much time do you spend each day searching for content to post, coming up with a witty caption and posting it? And then repeating this for each platform? Wouldn’t it be smarter to batch the work, sit down for a few hours and just schedule for an entire month? We mostly operate on a bi-weekly basis as we find that things can change too much if we schedule a month out, however as an agency we exclusively operate on an intelligent automation schedule. It’s the only efficient and effective way to operate, as it allows us the opportunity to have a focused session of content curation and scheduling, while simultaneously freeing up our time to spend on community engagement and growth.
And to reiterate, there is nothing spammy about this approach to Social Media Marketing. We’re essentially performing two weeks of daily tasks in the space of a few hours rather than taking 60 minutes out of each day to handle it. The messaging is always well thought through and on-brand, and we’re not contacting followers with unsolicited messages. We’re simply being efficient with our time so we can give more attention to our client’s followers.
On top of all of that, the fact remains that due to the impact of the various algorithms across the platforms, you need to push your message regularly to be heard – especially on Twitter. Automated posts allow you to schedule tweets with the same or similar messaging regularly over time, which is perfect for things like blog posts, press releases and new product announcements.
There are a whole bunch of native and third party tools available to help you get your schedule right, and here are some of the ones we use:
Sprout Social: This is our primary tool for not only Scheduling Content but Social Listening (monitoring what people are saying about our clients), Reporting and Community Management. It’s an extremely robust platform with an easy-to-use interface, deep reporting options and it acts as our one-stop-shop for all our SMM needs. It’s pricey but worth every penny, especially for the reporting element as they’re continually improving it and adding new functionality.
Buffer: Buffer have one of the best social media profiles in the game, and their platform is fantastic. We mostly use Buffer for some of our in-house accounts that don’t require reporting or deep social listening, and it performs just fine. Our favourite element is the Chrome Extension which allows us to randomly schedule helpful articles across all our platforms with one click. We use their paid plan for extended functionality but there’s a free option, too. If you’re just starting out, Buffer is where you need to be.
IFTTT: If This Then That has been around for years, and essentially it’s filled with what they call “recipes” which can perform pretty much any task you can think of. From turning on your Smart Lights when you’re 5 minutes away from home to warming up your Smart Oven so it’s good to go when you walk in the door, IFTTT is much more than just automating social media tasks. We don’t use it directly for any of our clients as it’s very important to cater posts to each platform individually, but we’ve seen it used as a way to easily sync Instagram posts to Twitter without the ugly link that Instagram’s native system displays. Give it a try and see what recipe you can come up with!
Facebook Native Scheduler: Facebook is the only social network with their own built in native scheduling tool, and it’s fantastic. If the third party tools don’t appeal or sound too confusing, you can use Facebook directly to schedule your content ahead of time and save you the day-to-day hassle of posting.
Automation can go wrong, too. We’ve seen brands repost the same messages over and over while @-ing followers, send generic Direct Messages for every new follower (please don’t do this!), and of course, there’s McDonald’s infamous tweet:
Black Friday **** Need copy and link****
— McDonald’s (@McDonaldsCorp) November 24, 2017
This is exactly what you want to avoid with any automation, however the success stories are much more evident than the horror stories. With a bit of forethought and planning, you can make your life easier, save yourself time, reinvest that time into capitalizing on valuable opportunities and take on a larger workload overall.
Let us know about any success you’ve had with automation or any tools you love, we’d love to hear about it.
Need help setting up the right processes to effectively and efficiently manage your social media accounts? We can help, get in touch.