Is social media automation hurting brands?


Two-way communication is the cornerstone of good social media marketing but community management is time intensive and expectations of 24/7 social interaction have fuelled demand for automated posting software.

A host of social media management platforms have launched content curation features this year, from Hootsuite beta-testing ‘suggested content’ to Buffer’s ‘curated content suggestions’. Even Klout, which had previously concentrated on its social media influencer ranking, Klout score, has now expanded into algorithm-based content curation and social media distribution. Late last year, Swayy entered what is set to become a competitive marketplace for “personalised content discovery” platforms.

Is content curation, content regurgitation?

Social media content curation can sometimes feel less than hyper selective and more like digital regurgitation simply adding to the data deluge engulfing our social media feeds. The value for the ‘content curator’ is clear – outsourcing responsibility for sourcing content for a specific audience and distributing it in a more efficient manner – but where is the value for those on the receiving end of this content?

Jon Dick, head of marketing at Klout, says: “I think, though, if you were to just post without providing your own commentary, and then when people respond to engage with you around it, if you don’t engage in that conversation, then I think you’re really missing the opportunity of what curating content presents.

“Most people don’t have the time or the opportunity to create that content on the sort of cadence that they would need to in order to really grow a large audience, so it does further the conversation when you curate content.”

Targeted, mass personalisation

However, social media automation is about much more than social media scheduling, or even using software to ‘surface’ content for distribution across social media.

IFTTT (If This Then That) enables users to create automation ‘recipes’ for a broad range of online activities. For example, If I post a photo to Instagram, then save that image to my Dropbox or If I get a new Twitter follower then tweet them thanks and a call-to-action.

SocialBro, a Twitter-certified product, has launched a Twitter DM Campaign tool that enables users to target their Twitter followers by filtering information provided in Twitter bio’s to create custom samples. These custom samples will then be automatically sent a personalised direct message (DM) under specific circumstances.

For example, a custom sample of Twitter followers who are marketers, based in London and who love jazz (according to their Twitter bio’s), could trigger an automated DM to thank them for following, with a link to your blog on the London Jazz Festival.

SocialBro allows up to 250 Automated DM Campaign tweets to be sent per day, but warns against using the tool for spamming, which can result in Twitter suspending the account. It also provides rules for best practice, which include advice such as “make sure your messages have a purpose and that the people you are sending them to will want to receive that content”. Its guidelines stress that automated messages sent to followers must provide them with a benefit “otherwise they will ignore your DM or unfollow you”.

SocialBro’s approach to DM campaigns

Don’t suck the social out of social media

But, guidelines or not, isn’t automated posting the antithesis of true social interaction and engagement?

Javier Burón, chief executive of SocialBro, says: “There’s nothing wrong with automation in itself, it’s about how you use it. Thoughtless, generic posts can indeed be damaging but it depends on your audience and how the automated actions are perceived by them. Automation, when managed correctly, can help deliver personalised engagement that will enhance rather than damage a brand’s reputation.

“More importantly, eliminating the human element overlooks the power of what can be achieved with the in-depth information you can uncover about followers/audience on social channels. With sophisticated monitoring and analysis tools like SocialBro, and creative campaign management, automated actions and rules (within our Rule Builder tool) can be tailored to the interests of specific types of followers.”

Rylan Holey, EMEA partner manager at Hootsuite says social media automation will never completely replace the human element, as there are limits to the engagement that can be achieved through automated social media responses. One automated response to a Twitter follower favouriting a post can be good social media engagement, whereas five identical auto-responses in a row can feel alienating and turn a positive social interaction into a negative one.

Holey advises: “Make sure you have a system in place which provides automation for certain aspects of what you’re doing in social, but at the same time allows you to be flexible and agile as an organisation, or as a social media marketer, to respond, that’s really important.”

Time sensitivity and context are certainly crucial when considering social media automation. Guy Kawasaki, whom many consider to be a social media guru, attracted sharp criticism when his 1.4 million Twitter followers received a barrage of unrelated automatic tweets during and immediately after the Boston bombing tragedy. As social media marketers know, social media mis-steps can be hugely brand damaging.

Anna Lawlor is content creator and co-director of boutique media communications agency, Social i Media. Follow her on Twitter @Little_Lawlor.

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Posted by Grasshopper - September 2, 2014 at 11:25 am

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3 simple ways to stay focused on your social media efforts

For all the digital marketing professionals using social media marketing, you have to follow a couple of specific rules. You have to engage with your target audience, follow the rules of each social media channel you use, monitor, listen, being authentic, blog, and measuring your results.

In my experience, there have been many times when I’m asking myself the question of why am I actually doing this. In the bigger picture of things, am I really going to make a difference? Will I be able to help someone who has questions regarding digital marketing for their business?

When you are working on your social media marketing campaign every day (counting weekends as well because the social web doesn’t sleep), it is very easy to suffer a burnout. Spending too much time in front of your computer blogging, tweeting, and engaging can be draining. I know. There will be times when you are going to feel a little bit down and if your efforts are actually worth it.

Whether it is with your personal relationships or work, there will always be a time when you think you have had enough and going to chuck everything out the window.

So how can you make sure you don’t suffer from a social media burnout and keep moving forward? How are you going to overcome the feeling of dread with your marketing initiative? What tips can you follow to regain the same motivation you had when you started your social media journey? The answer is quite simple and easier than you think. Find below a couple of tips that can help you with this.

What do you want to achieve?

We all have different reasons for doing social media marketing. Maybe it is to increase brand awareness, meet new people, increased sales, leads, or just because you like being social online. It really doesn’t matter what your goals are for social media marketing. The important part is that you realize and take the time once in a while to remember why you are online. Take note of your goals and whether or not you achieve them. Focus on what is working for your business and yourself, and let go of everything that doesn’t work.

Be yourself on the social web

On the social web, especially with running a social media marketing campaign, you can sometimes feel that you have to be there for everyone. To burst your bubble – you don’t have to be everything to everyone, it’s impossible. In order to be yourself on the social web, you cannot be on all the popular social media channels and give your commitment 100%. You might have heard this before, but the reality of it is true.

Use only the social media channels that your target market spends their time on and concentrate all your efforts on those channels. While it is very important to be consistent, authentic, and present on the social web, you must also have balance.

Manage your time
Set strict time limits for yourself and put away your tablet and smart phone. Go outside and find a hobby that you like that doesn’t involve the internet. Visit your family, go out with friends or take a vacation.

The pressure to stay relevant, interesting, and active on the social web can wear down even to the top social media marketing influencers. While social media marketing for business cannot be ignored, it is important that you manage your time so that you don’t burnout. No matter how much you love the social web and your marketing initiatives via social media, it’s not who you are.

Image: via Flickr.

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Posted by Grasshopper - September 2, 2014 at 5:22 am

Categories: Social Media Marketing   Tags:

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