Recently in a Facebook Group about Social Media, a new member presented himself as a student interested in social media. He wrote he specialized in automation. I did not have to wait long for the reaction I expected: The first comments started to come in “I don’t like the word automation in connection with social media” and “social media is about building connections and not about setting up robots” …
Some of you might know from past articles that Jonathan and I here at The Social Marketers are huge fans of automation in social media and marketing automation tools. More than: We firmly believe that with growing accounts without marketing automation you will not be able to handle everything in an optimal way, and you will be missing out.
If you want to grow big in social media you cannot do it all manually
Just want to be a regular user of social media? That’s ok – and then you will be able to handle it all manually. If you are not looking for the big results – go manually if you like. If you are a marketer, looking for measurable and growing success and reaching scale then you will realise at some point that handling the social accounts is eating up more and more of your time, without leaving the necessary spare time for actual communication. You should definitely take a look at automation.
A few weeks ago Mark Schaefer of Businesses Grow published an article about how his Twitter behavior has changed over time because of the growth in followers for his account (100,000 Twitter followers. Now what?). He mentions that “the sweet spot when I had the most fun on Twitter was when I had about 2,000 followers“. That is definitely true, it is the same experience I made. That is why I love to connect to accounts of between 1000 and 4000 followers.
Mark also mentions that for his Twitter account he had to “out-source this administration to a trained and trusted associate“. If you (like me and many other social media-users) do not have a trained and trusted associate: Take a look at marketing automation. Many of the influencers do it, there is no shame in it. It allows you to cut down the time needed for boring but necessary tasks and gives you back the time for actual conversations and connections.
This does not mean you cannot reach these guys on Twitter – Well, to be honest some are easier to reach than others. The larger the numbers of followers, the larger will be the number of tweets mentioning these accounts – it gets virtually impossible to answer all of them.
But to stick with Mark as an example: Jonathan recently wrote an article about how Mark with his take on Content Shock “blew his mind” and made him rethink the whole content marketing business. Jonathan mentioned Mark in one tweet of this article – and Mark not only retweeted the article with a personal comment, he also took the time to stop by our blog and comment directly on the post. (And no, it was not his “trusted associate” who responded). Reaching influencers on Twitter is possible.
Marketing automation does not mean you turn over your account to a robots completely. It means you use tools and marketing automation software to make your life easier for activities which need to be done, but do not help with holding up the conversation: Cleaning up inactive or spammy accounts, keeping the account active all day long with scheduled posts, etc. You still can and should personally handle at least some of the activities. For me that means I try to personally check all mentions of my Twitter handle and direct messages – I often fail to check all, but I try!
If you want to know how to use automation to use Social Media more efficiently, check out our ebook “The Social Traffic Code!”
There are several ways of using marketing automation without losing the personal connection to your account. How far you want to take automation is up to you. It starts with setting up posts in a queue to keep your account active even if you do not have the time or the internet access you need to post manually. It goes on with tools that help you automatically retweet a set number of tweets mentioning a hashtag or keyword or tools to automatically send direct messages. If you do not like how much automation an account uses, you can simply unfollow – and some people will not like what you do in social media and not follow you. If you want to grow your accounts, you have to find the sweet spot between optimizing your social media activity with marketing automation tools and losing followers due to too much automation. This sweet spot is where you will gain the most from your social activities.
Here are our favorite tools for marketing automation we use almost every day:
We already presented some of the tools we use for marketing automation in some other articles on this blog. We also set up a page for all tools we recommend, which we will update if we find more useful tools. Take a look at our “Ultimate Online Tools List.
Buffer: Schedule tweets for your Twitter account (or Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ updates). The free account allows you to schedule up to 10 posts at a time for one account. Buffer was one of the first tools I ever used for my Twitter account – and I still use it.
PostPlanner: Does not only help you to schedule your Facebook updates at optimal times. PostPlanner also gives you suggestions for content to share, which already generated a lot of reactions (likes, shares) on Facebook for a similar audience like yours.