Social media has come a long way. From being an unknown cyber place where people hang out, to a much-evolved marketing platform with access to potential leads across the whole globe. It’s a great place to have a conversation, share information and keep in touch with your customers and potentials. There is no denying that for modern marketing, whether it’s B2C or B2B, social media marketing cannot be ignored. While social media platform is all about being present and engaging with the customer directly, it is very unorganized and uncontrolled platform. Which means bombarding the media with content does not yield proportionate results. To add there are a plethora of social media platforms that are popular. Many may think that Facebook and twitter are sufficient to engage with customers. However, this is far from the truth. The growth of newer platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, Tumblr, google plus, snap chat are just a few who have 100 million plus subscribers. For specific target segments such as students or mothers, there are many other platforms thriving with active subscribers from that segment. Managing so many platforms can be a job in itself. To succeed on such platforms businesses need a strategy to reach the right audience and join the right conversation at the right time. This is where the social media marketing automation comes in. Automation helps in automatically reacting to a post, scheduling the content posting to most appropriate time, and defining and implementing the distribution strategy for content. It helps the businesses to effectively devise and implement a social media strategy which is consistent and manageable.
What should be Automated ?
Automating social media marketing is not a ‘set it and forget it’ solution. It is about automating what you can while staying engaged with the platform at the same time. Automation takes out the grunt work of social media posting and allows to focus on the real essence of marketing that is the content creation and one to one engagement. At the same time, a marketer needs to understand what should and what should not be automated. For example a generic reply to every tweet coming your way is a bad idea. It seems harmless to post a simple ‘thank you for your kind response.’, but can you imagine what will happen if the original tweet from the customer is something like ‘why does your product suck’? or ‘I lost my baggage on your flight.’, or a ‘like’ to a post ‘haven’t received my package yet.’ Using generic reply clearly shows that automation is being used without thought and loses its value. In fact, it can cause more harm than benefit. The Internet is full of such automated responses which turned disastrous for the company. Clearly, individual conversations should not be automated. Human touch should be maintained while having a conversation or replying to a post. Some of the things that can be automated are:
Content distribution. Content curation on the web and content distribution takes time. After gathering and creating content, it needs to be posted at regular intervals. Ideally, it should be posted just when your subscribers are about to access their feeds. That way your content stays on top. Use social media analytics to find those times. The content posting at specific timing can be automated. All content, posts etc can be created at one time, say in the morning and scheduled to be posted at different times. Creating all content together also keeps it coherent and consistent.
Personal tweets. Tweets that are original and are not posted in response to another tweet, or are not a part of the conversation can be automated. For example, quote of the day, specific general announcements, and other informative tweets can be created once and scheduled to be posted at different times. However, Conversational tweets and replies should never be automated.
Choose the right tools
Social media marketing is more than just posting content on different platforms. It involves Posting, replying, scheduling, cross media feeding and integration, social analytics and a lot more. There are many tools that integrate these platforms and do multiple jobs. A marketer needs to evaluate which tool would best suit his social media strategy. Many of these tools don’t need technical expertise. Some of the automation tools, however, do provide more complex programming ability to automate more complex tasks. Buffer, MeetEdgar, Sprout social are some of the most common scheduling automation tools that provide a varying degree of control. IFTTT creates an automatic, algorithm based social media posting applet. BuzzSumo is rated very high for discovering new, fresh and popular content on the web. Oktopost is designed for B2B social media management.
Ideal schedule for Social media automation
Social media posts must be made at the time when they have a high probability of getting seen immediately. Otherwise, they tend to get lost in the reader’s social feed. Use social media analytics to find the best time when your content has the highest probability of getting seen by readers. Identify your target segment and find out the times at which they are most likely to access social media. In B2B context, this becomes very important. Tools such as SocialBro, Followerwonk, Tweroid analyze the followers and inform when they are online and engaged.
Stay in conversation
Automation does not mean that marketer switches off after setting the content and posting rules. There are real people on the social media who demand real engagement. Use tools that notify you anytime you are mentioned on any social media platform.(similar to Google alerts) ‘Mention’ is one such powerful tool that can notify you via email anytime you are mentioned on the social platform. Set a time of the day aside, only to engage with social media. Usually three small slots, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one just before signing off for the day work best. But if a majority of your customers or targets are online at a different hour, then you must get online at that particular hour. There is nothing better to get an instant reply to your tweet, from a human. Do not automate this part.
Automation and social media need not be at odds at all the time. Conversations, human interactions are an important aspect of social media marketing. Automation takes away the routine and tedious tasks of posting throughout the day. With automation, one does not need to stay glued to screen waiting for that big comment or share or like. Instead, marketer can use that time in more productive marketing activities such as creating quality content to post.