Often our customers ask us how they can post a social media update in just one place, and have it go to all their social media channels. Typically we advise against duplicating the same content across your social networks. However, social media automation done correctly (without losing engagement) can create some much-needed efficiencies.
First of all, let’s keep in mind that it is called “Social Media” and not “Automated Media”. The foundation of marketing with social media is about building relationships with people and increasing brand loyalty. These goals simply cannot be achieved if the majority of your social media is automated. With that out of the way, let’s dig a little deeper into this controversial topic and some of the most commonly automated social media.
Scheduling Facebook Posts
I have been using Facebook Scheduler rather than Hootsuite when I need to schedule a Facebook post. It is useful for scheduling posts on a targeted day or time when more people are online and sharing is more likely (such as weekends and evenings). Facebook Scheduler also allows you to schedule the posting of a photo (with limitations – for instance you cannot tag photos or put them in a specific album), where Hootsuite does not. Since Hootsuite is third party application, the posts created in Hootsuite will not rank as well (and be seen by as many), as the posts that are created within Facebook. Facebook’s algorithm, called EdgeRank, is said to put more weight on posts that are created in Facebook, and these posts will appear more often in your fans’ news feeds.
One guideline to follow if you are going to automate anything on Twitter, is to make sure your tweets read like human-created tweets and are under 140 characters. Often Facebook posts that are automatically sent to Twitter are too long to have an impact. The best practice is to engage on Twitter, and not just have Facebook feed into it. If you are going to automate your Facebook posts to Twitter (here is one way to do it), make sure that the majority of your tweets are actual real tweets. You will be missing out on opportunities for engaging with others with replies and retweets, and adding hashtags if you only use Twitter to duplicate your Facebook content. Hootsuite is a great tool for scheduling tweets, that I use in conjunction with Twitter. If you do schedule tweets, pay attention to current events, and know when to pause them (i.e. don’t post about your “Blowout Sale” during the Boston Bombings).
Syndicating Blog Posts
Previously, it was common practice to use third party apps that automatically syndicated your blog post to Facebook (such as Networked Blogs or RSS Graffiti), but now they are also negatively affected by Edgerank and have new rules requiring re-authentication every 3 months. If you use a third party app to post your blog to your Facebook page, you will also lose some engagement because there will be no personality with automatically generated content (i.e. asking a question about the topic, relating it to your brand, etc.). There are RSS syndication tools built in to Hootsuite that will publish a link to your blog post to other social networks (such as Linkedin and Twitter) that can be useful, too. But again, I would suggest following them up with real tweets and status updates. Since frequent posts are common practice on Twitter (i.e. every couple hours), a syndicated link to your blog post could be followed up with a question or discussion point later.
Cons of Automating Social Media:
- It can be too easy to “set it and forget it”, missing out on opportunities for real conversations and events, and losing touch with your network.
- When you automate your posts, you cannot tag others. Tagging can be done in Facebook and Linkedin to get your posts more exposure and engagement.
- The same exact content will not appeal to your audiences for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. It is OK to use some of the same content, but the content needs to be tailored so it is best received on that particular social network. For instance, in Twitter you will want to add hash tags.
- You want to avoid repetition with customers that follow you multiple social networks. If you are posting the exact content across the board, your most loyal followers will get inundated quickly. Make each social network fresh.
A Few Things You Must Automate:
- WordPress allows you to schedule publishing your blog post for a specific day and time. By all means, use the built-in WordPress scheduler.
- Set up Google Alerts for specific keywords or brand names, to give you notification of blog post ideas, current discussions, and news in your industry.
- Use social share buttons on your posts to enable your readers to automatically share for you!
In the end, it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons of social media automation, and to make any automation that you do as personal as possible and tailored for that social network. Be careful to not sacrifice engagement and interaction! If social media is an important part of your marketing, but you don’t have the time to invest in, it may be a better choice to consider outsourcing your social media, rather then automating too much of it.
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Are you automating any social media? What types of social media automation do you feel is acceptable?