The Learning Center
AKA... The Blog
AKA... The Blog
Automating your social media can be good or bad, depending on how you use it. Automation helps you maintain your social media presence even when you are on vacation and not available to be present. It can also help you maintain a consistent presence, considering you may occasionally forget to post. And once you forget once, you start to care less and end up with one social post a month, if even that. Automating social media should not become a crutch but rather a tool. You still have to put in the work but have the opportunity to do most of the work at once rather than every few days and risk forgetting. Before you start automating your social media, let’s take a look at a few fails that have occurred due to automation as well as go over the proper ways you should use social media automation tools.
Several large companies over the years have made the mistake of either automating too much or automating the wrong sorts of things. Some have automated messages that weren’t appropriate for the message they received. Others were posts that were published at bad times.
This first social media automation fail happened following the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. While most people were posting their condolences to those affected by the bombing, the brand Epicurious failed to at least reschedule their social media. Rather than take a moment for the tragedy, their scheduled message went out that day to encourage people to share recipes for whole-cranberry scones. On any other day, this would have been a fine message to post. But the day of a bomb going off was not the appropriate time. That’s why it’s important to always know what’s scheduled to be posted and immediately put them on pause in the case of a tragedy or serious situation. If you do choose to let a post go out, do it in good taste of whatever’s happened.
This second fail was a result of automatic tweet responses rather than a live person monitoring Bank of America’s Twitter. Whoever set up the automatic responses never took into consideration that someone might tag them in a tweet and not be needing help with their bank account. Not to mention, who would publicly be asking a bank on Twitter for help with their account?
The fail happened when an activist in the Occupy movement took a picture of himself being chased away by police outside a Bank of America. Of course, the man posted the picture online and tagged Bank of America in the tweet. In response came an automated reply that clearly didn’t match the situation. Others began to notice and started tagging Bank of America to get similar automated responses all along the lines of, “We are here to help, listen, and learn from our customers and are glad to assist with any account related inquiries.” Other replies were about helping the person with their account. Moral of the story: don’t automate replies blindly to anyone who tags you. You can never know their intentions of the tag, whether good or bad unless you actually read the post and manually respond.
Different than Bank of America who assumed everyone tagging them needed account help, Domino’s took a different assumption on who might be tagging them on social media. Their automated replies assumed the worst: that something with the customer’s experience went wrong. Their automated response became clear when one customer posted about how great their pizza was and tagged Dominoes in the photo. The automated response came later, apologizing for the customer’s experience (amazing pizza). If there’s one thing a restaurant should never do, it’s apologize for satisfying customers.
Based on those 3 social media automation fails, you can probably already figure out what you aren’t supposed to do with automation. For one, always know what’s scheduled and when. If the end of the world is happening, you don’t want to look like the idiot who’s still tweeting about your favorite ice cream flavor or posting memes on your business’s Facebook.
And second, don’t automate direct messages or replies. They just don’t work. There are too many variables to be able to create a catch-all response. Instead, take the time to respond directly to your followers as needed to create a relationship, to not end up looking ridiculous, and to actually help/thank that person. You can’t automate you.
The first thing to remember about social media automation is that it wasn’t intended to let you be lazy. You still have to put in the same amount of time. Automating all your posts just helps you keep it all organized, avoid neglecting your social media, and post at the best times. Social media automation is a tool, not a crutch.
Automation tools can help you figure out when your posts are getting the most engagement to allow you to target those time frames. At first, you may find yourself posting a lot around 8:30 in the morning when you think people will first be checking their social media. But then you accidentally post one at 8:30 at night and discover you get more engagement later at night. That’s when you start experimenting with the best time to post. You can also look at when the engagement occurred. Maybe you posted something around noon, but all your likes came in around 3. With some tweaking and experimentation, you can discover the opportune moment to post to your followers.
Some people think they can use a social media automation tool to blast out the same message across all their social media platforms. While you can, you shouldn’t. There’s a reason so many social media platforms exist. They each have a different purpose and a different audience. Not to mention different character limits. Your long Facebook post won’t make the cut for Twitter. Also, think about those who might follow you on multiple platforms. Do you really think they want to see the same post five times in five different places? Cater your message for each platform and take into consideration the vibe of the platform. For instance, Snapchat is very casual, Facebook is semi-casual but can lean toward professional, and LinkedIn is overly professional. The same message isn’t going to come across the right way on all those platforms. Even if the root of the message stays the same, change the wording and presentation of it.
If you’re not able to see the whole picture, you may end up posting the same kind of content every time. There are multiple types of posts you can create from text, images, video, quotes, tips, fill-in-the-blanks. Automating your social media can help you vary the type of content you post so you don’t end up posting a tip three times in a row. You want to mix it up by scheduling each post for at least a month in advance to see what types of posts you will have going out.
Imagine it’s October and you’re starting your posts for the next month. You have Halloween on the brain and know Thanksgiving is the upcoming holiday for the next month. You get so into the Thanksgiving spirit that every other post is related to the holiday…even after the holiday has passed. While that situation isn’t likely to happen, similar ones could, especially with vaguer seasonal topics such as summer. While summer may still be technically going on in September, your posts shouldn’t be talking about the start of summer or things people typically do at the beginning of summer. Whatever content you choose to create, make sure that it fits for that time period and that any other content you choose can be used for any time of the year.
Because there is so much work still involved with automating your social media, it’s clearly not an easy way out of not working on it. It just lets you get ahead of the game and see it from an outside perspective. You get to look at your upcoming social posts as a whole rather than piece by piece as well as tweak it as you see fit to suit trends you see in your social engagement. While it’s meant to help you, don’t let automation take over your personality. People won’t connect with a robot.