Meg Thornley Social Media and Project Manager Getting the Balance Between Automation and Real Life Social media is a harsh mistress if you don’t dedicate enough time or effort to making it work. A tool that’s made it much easier to remind your followers of your existence must be automation- whether that’s scheduling your posts or replying to your customers. Not only does it make sure you never go stagnant but it actually increases the amount of engagement you receive. However, recently in my travels across various social media platforms I have noticed a severe misuse of the automation tool, to the point where I began to mentally mark down any companies who used it to welcome me as one of their twitter followers. ‘The idea of pretending to care that someone has followed you enough to write an automated message and include links on a social media helping site that probably charges a hefty monthly subscription is almost enough to make me feel like they actually care about that one up on their followers. Almost. Okay, not at all.’ -My secret thoughts But it doesn’t have to be this way! Here’s how to get the right balance between automation and real life: Use Automation To Post At The Right Times, but Not To Post For You Hubspot wrote a quick handy guide on when to post depending on the platform and other factors that’s really helpful. Or here’s a more comprehensive one from coschedule. Honestly, just Google “When to post on BLANK for a BLANK business” (substituting your criteria for the BLANKS, obviously.) Don’t use automation to post for you, though. You need humans to check through everything, as the New England Patriots found a few years ago. Engage The Way That Suits Your Customers Engagement with your followers is incredibly important, but it’s difficult to create a cover-all plan for everyone. Instead analyse the way your customers work and the service you supply to them, and adjust accordingly. For example, it may work for you to have an autoresponder reply to Facebook posts, but be careful to not assume anything from those who engage with you… Picture source: Digiday Or it can get a bit embarrassing! And of course, make sure you don’t get spammy, or it has the opposite of the desired effect. Even in Private… If you have a lot of traffic to your social media platforms, you may need to set up an automatic welcome to your followers. Arguably this should be avoided as much as possible, since it’s often seen as annoying and bad practice by those who receive them. However, it’s incredibly important to make sure your followers do feel welcomed, and to answer any messages you receive. This is potential customers reaching out to you- the sooner they get their answers, the better! Remember- Facebook displays how long it takes company pages to reply to messages; the longer it takes, the worse you look. Image source: Sproutsocial. In Conclusion… Social media is about social engagement with people, not with robots. You should use automation sparingly, to enhance your marketing strategy but not to replace it.