automation

By Eric T. Tung, {grow} Community Member

Marketing generalists have enough on their plates. Social media specialists and community managers can find themselves short on time. So how can you create a consistent flow of content from your social media accounts while maintaining your sanity? Automate it.

I’m not advocating replacing your brand voice with a robot, but supplementing your content flow and natural engagement with automation both increases interaction and increases your time to do more with social. But with a sometimes negative stigma behind automation, why should you consider it? Here’s why.

Increase content curation. The 5-3-2 Rule of social media suggests that for every ten posts, five should be content from other sources, three should be your non-salesy content, and two should be personal, humanizing posts. That means that you have to invest a lot of time finding half of the content for your social channels. Scheduling content allows you to generate posts across several days or weeks without sacrificing content quality.

Appeal to a global audience. Many small and medium-sized businesses are now catering to a global audience. Even including an individual Etsy seller, these businesses are looking to create a global conversation about their products. Large companies may have customers in multiple countries, but offices in only a few. In any of these cases, having a well-planned automated posting schedule helps to increase impact across multiple time zones, make you more efficient, and makes your company appear more competitive.

Free up time for higher-level engagement. Automating posts isn’t just so you can sit idly; take the extra time and increase engagement for your brand. Whether it’s working more closely with influencers, taking more time to increase content creation, or bringing customer service up to the next level, use the extra time you have to strategize and make the additional investment in social media.

What can you automate in social media?

Tweet Posting. Most sources suggest from five to 22 tweets a day for optimal engagement, yet most social media teams aren’t able to dedicate the resources to post each tweet in real-time. Many social tools offer tweet scheduling as a basic option, but Buffer offers some of the best options for scheduling posts that don’t need a specific time or date. Buffer also offers browser plugins that add buttons to twitter.com and reddit.com to add posts directly into Buffer. While browsing, the buffer button grabs a page URL and title from the browser to schedule.

Curating Content. To provide the most value to your network, you should share “source-neutral” content, or content that you didn’t create. Twitter lists can help group tweets to discover the best content amongst your network, but tools like Commun.it and Paper.li can help make discovering these posts easier. Commun.it pulls Twitter lists and indicates which tweets on the list have been retweeted the most. Paper.li automatically compiles a daily “digital newspaper” of the top links shared in your networks. Either way, the top content in your network can be more easily curated and shared.

Social Archiving. From utilities, to financial organizations and healthcare, many industries have stringent archiving and recordkeeping requirements. Zapier uses trigger actions (Twitter mentions, Facebook page posts), and uses them to create an action (save the mention or post as an Evernote note, save it on a Google Calendar, email an inbox, send an SMS). IFTTT, “If This, Then That” is also a simpler alternate to Zapier, but they no longer support using Twitter as a trigger mechanism. Use these tools to help create an archive of social posts and interactions.

Sharing Blog Posts. Zapier and IFTTT both offer the option to automatically share blog posts from an RSS feed to Twitter, Facebook and others. This works especially well for blogs where writers have individual RSS feeds for direct attribution, but can be used for general blogs as well. Most of these services also have the option to filter by keywords, in case you have accounts for specific product lines.

Kicking Off Social Media Processes. Whether for customer service, sales inquiries, or recruiting, the social media team is only the tip of the iceberg. Staff from various departments often need to complete various processes to close a social interaction. Customer research, creating a lead or alerting the proper resources, social media reaches into many parts of the organization. Automatically kick off these processes by alerting the proper staff when social media needs arise by emailing or texting the people responsible for responding using IFTTT or Zapier.

Whether to free up more time in your schedule, ramp up content curation, or to streamline social media processes across departments, social media automation can be the key to creating a larger footprint, creating a larger audience, and taking social media to the next step. Have you automated social media at your organization or for your personal channels? Please share your thoughts below.

eric t tungEric T. Tung is a social media manager and trainer at BMC Software as well as a social media strategist, blogger and speaker. The postings in this blog belong to Eric and do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of BMC Software.

Illustration courtesy of Flickr CC and epsos

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