Many bloggers and business owners rely on the power of social media to market their products/services. When used correctly, not only can social media drive lots of traffic to your blog, but it can also serve as a marketplace full of willing buyers/clients. But as your business grows and your to-do list fills with urgent tasks, you can’t afford to spend all day on social media. That’s where automation comes in. What’s the harm in automating your social media to free up your time? Keep reading to find out how your automation strategy could be hurting your brand.
Just as Kendra mentioned in A Painless Social Media Strategy, you’ll want to create a social media marketing plan that incorporates a platform that can be automated and a platform that requires more participation to make the best use of your time. But how exactly are you automating your chosen platform? There are actually two types of social media automation. There’s automated scheduling/marketing, and there’s automated engagement. Let’s take a closer look at both, shall we?
What’s automating scheduling/marketing?
Automated scheduling is when you use a program that sends out your content for you and enables you to plan out your content ahead of time. With schedulers, you can arrange for your content to be shared multiple times a day, which is super helpful if you are offline at the best times to post for your platforms. Schedulers are powerful tools because you can ensure that no matter what time zone your audience is in, they will see your content. Schedulers are used most effectively when you sit down to batch your content ahead of time. For example, you decide that Sunday night is your time to load your scheduler for the next week/two weeks/month, etc. Some popular schedulers are Hootsuite, Buffer, Edgar, and our personal favorite, Tailwind.
I personally believe that every blogger/business owner should utilize a scheduler as part of her social media strategy, because there is just no reason to waste time by manually managing your accounts. As great as scheduling is, it can also be done ineffectively. Kendra already shared our automated Twitter fiasco! Long story short, with our first blog we automated our tweets so much that we looked like robots rather than actual people! When you opt to use a scheduler, make sure that you remember to share the love. Share content from other bloggers that you know your audience might enjoy. Trust me, no one wants to look at a feed full of self-promotion! It makes you seem arrogant, selfish, and centered on competition rather than community.
Another tip is to make sure that your automation isn’t lacking your voice and gives readers a reason to actually check out your content. It’s really easy to push your latest blog post onto social media platforms in a generic way, especially on Facebook and Twitter. But you’ll get fewer followers to click on your tweet or post if all it includes is a picture from your blog post and the title. Instead, give your readers a call to action and make it sound like you are talking directly to them. This builds curiosity and compels your reader to check out your blog post. Regina of byRegina is absolutely awesome at this.
What’s automated engagement?
Automated engagement is when bloggers/business owners use a program or software to automate their engagement on other people’s posts. Some software allows bloggers to automatically like, retweet, or comment on posts that meet the criteria that they set for the software. Let’s say that Kendra and I want to automate our interaction on Instagram. We could tell the software to like 30 posts an hour that include the hashtag “christianblogger”. We could even say that we want to leave an automated comment saying “Love this pic” on those same 30 posts.
Forgive me in advance, but I am very opinionated about automated engagement. I’m going to be completely honest: yes, automated engagement works. In fact, it works really well. It will grow your social media accounts quicker than if you rely solely on organic methods. Whew, glad I got that out of the way! While automated engagement undeniably works, it doesn’t attract the right caliber of followers. What do I mean by this? You cannot attract raving fans to your blog/business by automated engagement. To understand this, let’s take a look at what happens with organic engagement.
When you search hashtags for your target audience and you find a post that you can leave a genuine and relevant comment on, more often than not, that person will respond to what you said and will click over to your account. At the very least, they will like/comment on some of your posts and maybe even follow you. Your target audience is just like you. They want to know that people like the content they’re sharing. If they aren’t used to getting a lot of engagement, when you take the time to be genuine, you really leave a good impression. I can’t even begin to say how helpful sincere interaction has been not only in growing our Instagram following, but also by forming relationships with other women both in and out of our industry. You’re not going to build those key relationships by automating your interaction.
Automated engagement also takes you out of the habit of actually being present on your social media. Think about it, if you know that you are running automated campaigns that are generating results, what reason would you have to actually log into your Twitter, Instagram, etc and be present? When you aren’t present on social media, you miss out on the social aspect, which is the most important. Just as I mentioned above, you’ll miss your chance to win over your target audience; but you’ll also miss out on those wanting to interact with you.
We aren’t entitled to receive comments, likes, or retweets from anyone. And our audience isn’t obligated to comment/like/share our content. So when you take the time to show genuine appreciation for your followers who are commenting and sharing your content, you set yourself apart from other bloggers/business owners who are just “too busy” to interact with their audience. Once again, organic interaction is so valuable, and it puzzles me why bloggers are shifting away from it. You never know what your conversation with your followers could lead to. They could become future collaborators, clients, customers, etc.
Time is scarce for us when we’re trying to build our blogs and businesses; I get it. But I think there are smart ways to save time and some not-so-smart ways to save time. The extent that automation will play into your social media strategy is completely up to you. Just make sure that you evaluate whether or not the results will align with your mission and the rest of your brand identity.