Social media automation has been exhaustively debated for years. However, it looks like the debate won’t go anywhere.
Some people said automation goes against the very grain of what social media is meant to be: namely, social and personable. For others, it’s the answer to efficiency prayers – enabling them to keep an active social media presence with minimal effort.
And both sides have a point. We’ve all cringed at automated updates, yet none of us complain when we get served up with great resources at regular intervals.
The key is obvious: you need to strike the right balance between automation and the human touch. So, here’s 10 best practice rules for social media automation success.
1. Don’t send automated DMs
We’ll start with everyone’s biggest pet peeve: automated direct messages. Do you like receiving them? Of course you don’t – and nor do your followers.
A stock, “Thanks for the follow! Insight powered by xxx” is as insincere as it is lazy. Similarly, an automated DM pushing people to a product or service is spammy and annoying. Stop.
If someone has taken the time to show support with a follow, the least you can do is thank them personally – without the spam or the insincerity.
2. “Out of Office” automated replies
Almost half of us expect a response from brands within one hour of reaching out. That expectancy is exacerbated if a customer is angry.
After all, their patience is worn thin and their public social media bashing of your brand will be correspondingly scathing. So, keep your ear to the ground.
If you receive a message out of office hours, send an automated response letting the person know that you’re currently away, but will respond as soon as you can. That way, the customer isn’t left ignored and you’ve explained your silence.
3. Never automate all of your replies
It’s important not to get carried away with the automated replies. One explaining that you’re out of office is fine. A token reply to all messages at all times of the day, however… not so fine.
Think about it. If you’d taken time out of your day to send a company a message, how would you feel if they replied with a trite, “Hey! Thanks for getting in touch. Insight powered by xxx” message?
It’s rude. It’s robotic. And it stands out like a sore thumb. Remember, just because you can automate something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.
4. Ensure an even mix of content
Don’t keep automating the exact same content, time after time. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Repeating the exact same offers at the exact same time every day isn’t engaging, and it gets stale quickly. So, keep your automated posts balanced with evergreen content, articles, tips and tricks, as well as new blogs and offers created over time.
That way, your automated posts will be less obvious. Plus, you’ll avoid sounding like a broken record.
5. Use unusual triggers / CTAs
Automating at set times throughout the day is a given. But you should also think outside the box and set up more irregular triggers.
Let’s say you’re an ice cream company. Why not set up automation triggers that will publish discounts whenever the temperature hits 20°C? Or let’s say you’re a taxi company. Why not set up triggers that will post content whenever a train or bus service is down?
To do that, you’d need a solution that offered more complex, integrated automation services. But the results would be worth it.
6. Leave room for masnual updates
(And don’t overdo the automated ones.) You should always supplement any automated content with live, impromptu posts to ensure you stay relevant.
That doesn’t mean posting a million updates a day – you don’t want to be that infuriating user flooding everyone’s timeline. It just means keeping a balance between automation and live action.
Let’s use Twitter as an example. If you generally tweet 10 times per day across the day, try to make 5 tweets automated and 5 unplanned and reactionary. Again, that will make your automation efforts much less obvious.
7. Apply sentimental analysis
Social automation isn’t all about posts. It’s about analysis, too. And without sentiment analysis, you can’t measure public opinion on your brand.
People are talking about you on social media, as well as sending you messages – so why not start examining the bigger picture? With a social automation solution that comes complete with sentiment analysis, any messages to / about you can be scanned and assessed for positive or negative feeling.
Without any work on your part, you’ll find out the overall view on what people really think of you. Get savvy.
8. Set up “Urgent” triggers
There’ll be times when an out of office auto response isn’t enough. There’ll be times when you receive critical support requests, serious complaints and detrimentally negative reviews.
And it’s those times that you should let social automation software kick in. Set your software up to scan for negative or ‘urgent’ phrases, and from there it can automatically push an SMS or email alert to a relevant employee.
Since you can’t be sat on social media 24/7/365, use your automation software as a watchdog. You’ll always stay responsive, reactive, and on the alert.
9. Pay attention to competitors’ channels
And keep an eye on key industry words and phrases, too. If you’re not thinking outside the box with social automation, you’re not using it to full effect.
So, look further afield than your own channels. Set your software up to monitor competitor accounts, too. And while you’re at it, have it look out for relevant search terms – from simple company mentions to individual product names to specific search strings.
Focusing only on your own accounts leaves you blinkered. Let social automation software give you a sweeping view of the market, not just lend a hand with your posts.
10. CRM integration
Last but by no means least, make sure you’re tying all this social automation wizardry in with your CRM. It’s all good and well using automation to help out with angry customers, calculate sentiment and monitor urgent support requests.
But if that kind of information isn’t feeding into your CRM, you’re losing hosts of crucial data. So, choose a solution that can integrate. Automation is all about having tasks performed automatically, remember.
To keep track of all those valuable social interactions, have your software auto-create records against customer profiles in your CRM. It’ll save you a mammoth job, and it’ll keep your data in sync, too.
So, there you have it. Social automation incorporates more than you might have thought, doesn’t it?
But before you happily skip off into social automation success, remember that these 10 golden rules ultimately mean nothing if you forget that a live person is always best. When it comes to the dynamic world of social media, a “set it and forget it” policy will fast see you falling behind.