Social Media Automation Tips to Totally Kill ItAnita Kirkbride
If you came here looking for justification for social media automation to make your life easier, you’ve come to the wrong place. When I say “kill it”, I mean RUIN IT. As in, how to use social media automation to RUIN your social media presence. There are very few types of automation I take advantage of because too much automation isn’t very SOCIAL. And because I want to know what’s happening on my account. A tweet/post is very much an endorsement of the content within, so you must be sure you agree with what you’re posting!
Social Media Automation vs. Scheduling
Let’s just get this out of the way first. Scheduling of evergreen content and campaigns can save you a ton of time and make the process of social media management a whole lot easier. Scheduling is when you pick a piece of content and choose when it will be posted. For the sake of this article, we’ll also include programs like Buffer, TweetJukeBox and Hootsuite autoscheduler in this; while you don’t necessarily choose a specific time for each and every post, you have chosen to post a specific item in a specific manner. I consider this scheduling, not automation. Responsible scheduling does not include scheduling of things that haven’t been read, or are being posted with a reasonable expectation of receiving immediate responses from your audience…i.e. don’t schedule a question you know your audience is going to answer, if you’re not going to be there to interact.
Automation is when you don’t have to think about the content or the timing. It just happens without you. Social media automation is when something is posted on your behalf and you didn’t specifically post it, or schedule it, or even read it. Many times people who use social media automation tools don’t even know what has been posted on their own accounts! And if you try to interact with them, 90% of the time they don’t respond because they’re not really present on that network.
Social Media Automation Don’ts
- Automated thank you for following (public and private)
Personally, I think most “Thanks for following” messages are a waste of a tweet. Probably because 99% of them are automated and I realize the person thanking me has absolutely no idea they’re thanking me or who I am, or that I’m even following them! Changes to the Twitter API not too long ago made some compliant auto-thanking programs (IFTTT.com for one) remove the ability to auto thank people. Well, IFTTT.com can still send auto thank yous, but it no longer tags the account, so instead of actually telling the person you’re thanking them, you just send out a regular tweet with their name in it and chances are they never see that you’ve thanked them. Don’t believe me? Read this response from IFTTT.com on Quora. Your tweet will look like this, publicly repeated over and over on your timeline, with no tags to let the recipient know you’ve thanked them. Nothing makes a person feel special like seeing the same message to 30 other people on your timeline!
- Automated posts from free social media automation software
Yes, this is a great way for a fremium program to get lots of free publicity; forcing their free users to tweet about them on a weekly basis. It’s why I personally don’t use certain programs. I would rather pay than be constantly promoting them, or find another program to use. The better programs, like TweetJukeBox, give you the option to turn off these tweets, even on the free program. The information in most of these tweets is just not valuable to your followers. When was the last time you looked at a tweet with someone’s follower and unfollower count and thought, “WOW, I’m so glad they posted that. Now I know!” That is the reaction you’re going for when you post… you WANT people to be excited to see what you’re posting. So, be choosy about what free promotional tweets you allow to be sent on your behalf. I’ve even been forced to tweet something that was entirely false just to get in to try a program (I quickly deleted the tweet).
- Automated retweeting or posting from RSS Feeds
Yes, programs exist to allow you to never again think about having to curate your Twitter feed. Social media automation exists that will fill up your Twitter profile with tweets based on specific topics and keywords and you don’t even need to approve them! I simply cannot let a program decide what gets posted on my behalf. Yes, I might trust certain authors and want to share their writing on a regular basis, but what if one day they suddenly go rogue, or get political, or they turn on some kind of social media automation that puts things in their stream I disagree with? Nope. I can’t take that chance on my own feeds.
- Automated updates from other social networks
I’ve written many times before about why you should not auto-link your Facebook to Twitter, but in this case I’m talking about the kind of social media automation that results in posts to your feed that say “I just added video XYZ to a playlist.” I can see a use for this, but for most people, I don’t think it’s relevant to your audience who or what you’re watching on YouTube. In my case, it could be my kids on my computer watching something. Minecraft and Pokemon Go videos definitely don’t relate to my audience so I wouldn’t want that kind of thing auto-posting to my account. Be careful with those little check boxes on YouTube, Instagram, and Foursquare. I’m also going to include programs that auto-post your check-ins to places, or your fitness accomplishments. Unless you’re a food blogger or a fitness instructor, these probably don’t matter to your audience either, and again, are just seen as automated noise.
Good Social Media Automation
As I said above, some types of social media automation are ok and can even make your life easier. Consider making these programs/tips part of your work flow to ease the stress of social media management.
- Auto-Scheduling programs like Hootsuite and Buffer are GREAT as long as you are choosing what goes into the queue to be shared. Hootsuite and Buffer also have fabulous browser extensions that allow you to quickly add articles you’re reading to your queue without opening up the program in another tab.
- Content recycling programs like TweetDeck, Co-Schedule and Meet Edgar are also very helpful in resurfacing your evergreen content on a regular basis. Use these programs to repost your own best content.
- Automation can help your curate content as well. Google Alerts is a free service that brings articles to your email inbox every day. There are specialized programs you can use to find content for you, too. All of these services help you find the content, and maybe schedule it, but they don’t auto post it for you without your approval.
- Automated task managers, such as Ifttt.com and Zapier still have their place in social media automation, even though their most useful features have little to do with social media. Posting Instagram photos natively on Twitter is likely the most popular recipe on Ifttt. You can also use these programs to track retweets for Twitter contests, automatically save photos you’re tagged in to Dropbox, add people to Twitter lists, or sync your profile images across the board.
Good and bad social media automation is all around us. You have to decide how much you are comfortable with. The line for me is that I have to place the item in the queue. A program may determine the best time for that item to be sent, but I chose whether or not it goes in the lineup. Where will you draw the line? Let me know your thoughts on social media automation in the comments.