Don’t get me wrong. The promise of social media automation is both alluring and useful.
Unless you have a dedicated social media team – a luxury few SMBs have – you have other tasks and responsibilities during your workday. As well, you might need the illusion of a 24/7 presence to address the different time zones and locations of your prospects, clients, and fans.
Scheduling posts is essential for most marketing teams, and we are not talking just about Tweets.
The shortcomings crop up when you forget the social part of social media and rely on the automation tools too much. Scheduling a week or two at once may seem more manageable.
The problem is that this leads to a schedule and forget mentality.
Here are the five big problems with social media automation.
#1 – Things Change
Whenever you schedule posts in advance, you have to remain aware of what is happening in the world, your industry, and your operating locations.
Running a promotion on a holiday destination in the tropics a day before or just after a hurricane rolls through is insensitive and misses the opportunity to connect in a more meaningful way with your audience – by showing empathy and relevance.
And it tells the world you are a brainless robot.
Trust once lost, is difficult to regain.
Make sure you are aware of what content is going out and resist the temptation to schedule too far in advance. Most importantly, make sure you can quickly pull material that is no longer appropriate. Make sure one or more people are responsible for doing so. In the event you are offline due to a local problem, this role may mean having someone in another location who can access your content.
#2 – Talking At Your Audience
If someone on social media engages with your post, you may see the summary of likes and shares. That is the vanity side of engagement and only somewhat useful. However, you are missing the opportunity to go deeper and genuinely engage by having conversations close to real time.
Responding to a visitor’s comment a week after posting is most likely a waste of the resources you spent starting the conversation in the first place.
#3 – Automated Responses Are Just Tacky
When is the last time you went “Woohoo! I got an automated response on social media that is obviously canned and does nothing more than send me off on a sales journey?”
“Thanks for following me. I have a product you might be interested in.”
I doubt you ever do. So why would you commit this obviously lame practice on your audience?
Instead, engage with your audience and be helpful.
#4 – Dynamic Engagement
You also miss the opportunity to see what is working (or not) and dynamically shift your online marketing campaigns and even your strategy.
A post starts to go viral and then because you aren’t watching or listening, it peters out.
A conversation gets started, and you ignore it. You don’t learn from your audience or the medium.
#5 – Not Understanding Social
This one is the most significant problem I see. Companies and brands talk and stop listening. They treat social media as old-school advertising and brand awareness – they completely miss the opportunity to engage with people and learn.
If you are only using social media for advertising and brand awareness, you are missing much of the opportunity.
For instance, you could get real-time feedback on a future or current product launch. You can learn about what your target market and ideal clients care about today. You miss seeing what your competitors are doing.
Avoid The Problems with Social Media Automation
You will probably need to use social media automation to make marketing work for your SMB. However, you should shy away from using it to replace engagement.
Remain aware that the goal is to engage and create fans who will talk about your brand, share content, and eventually buy from you.
If you miss the social aspect of social media, you may still have some success. But you are probably losing 80% or more of the real opportunity.
Let’s face it. Listening and talking with your target audience almost always pays off in the long run.
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