Social media automation – to use it or not to use it? It’s a question we face now that marketers have finally realized that a social media strategy is essential to a strong web presence.
Automation, or the act of automatically distributing your website’s new content through an RSS feed, was once the easy solution to ensure content was seen by your social audiences. Emphasis on easy.
But here’s the thing: Automation is an old-school best practice and it’s become outdated. With Facebook algorithms only rewarding the freshest of quality content, and users savvy enough to notice the difference between a well crafted post and a headline – automation could be potentially worse than posting nothing at all. At Brafton, we’re simply stopping automation on our clients’ social Pages, effective in Q1 of 2015.
Remember – we’re not talking about scheduling. Creating a social media calendar that includes both real-time and scheduled social posts is something we encourage and practice ourselves. But just posting automated headlines to your social pages and expecting users to think you’re actively engaging on the network? You’re not fooling anyone.
Here are several reasons why automation should not be included in your 2015 social strategy:
Social media rewards personality
Social media is all about being social, sharing personality and being present. Automating your posts is equivalent to showing up to a party, but not talking to anyone. You’re halfway there, but you certainly won’t leave a strong impression.
Organic posting allows you to do what social media is meant for: starting a conversation. With automation, you can forget about reaching people through a trending hashtag, or getting your post on someone’s radar through @mentioning.
Check out the difference:
Plus, social networks discourage automation.
LinkedIn was ahead of the game when it disabled automation back in 2012. Last year Facebook users began seeing a “slew of automation issues and bugs,” hinting that the network may soon drop the feature. Twitter is perhaps the “easiest” network to get away with settling for automation because Tweets are easily disposable, but that shouldn’t be the excuse to continue using it.
Automation only gives you one shot for success
If you’re only utilizing social automation, your post has one shot to reach your audience. This is a lot of pressure to put on a single post, especially on networks like Facebook, where users rarely see posts from the pages they like, or on Twitter, where the average lifespan of a Tweet is five minutes.
Automation won’t make the most of your resources. We recommend repurposing your content – sharing the same post in different variations several times on each network over a series of time.
Through repurposing, you’re increasing the chances that your users will 1. see it and 2. engage with it.
Check out this example of how we created three original Tweets about our Content for Social Media eBook on separate occasions for more impact:
You’re not thinking about the bottom line: your audience
Social automation is a way to get your content seen, yes. But it’s not a way to target your audience’s preferences – which undoubtedly vary depending on the network you’re using.
A quick analysis of our Sprout Social engagement metrics told us a little about Brafton’s followers and how their interests range across each social network (*note: this is a quick look at our channels and is not representative of all brands).
- Facebook: Our readers like knowing about company employees and seeing the behind-the-scenes of Brafton life. It’s casual and fun.
- LinkedIn & Google+: Our readers are interested in SEO, content marketing tips and strategic advice. These people are here to talk shop.
- Twitter: Quick, snappy, fun. Industry focused, with a professional tone that fits between Facebook and LinkedIn.
Here’s how we took that knowledge and prepared a post for our different audience’s preferences around one blog post.
Now picture what that would’ve been like had we just shared the headline. Definitely not as fun. Definitely not optimized for the reader. We would’ve missed out on:
- Sharing the post with Google Analytics on Twitter
- Showing Facebook readers the face behind the post
- Offering a preview snippet to Google+ users
It’s these little details that set apart posting for the sake of posting and posting with the intention of giving your audience something they actually want to see.
What once was a way to save time on social media has become robotic and (dare we say!) spammy. Social media marketing is the best opportunity for your brand to showcase its personality. Be present among your audience, interact and optimize your content to fit their wants and needs. You’ll be setting your brand up for success.