Social media automation playing on your mind?
With social platforms demanding more and more time and effort every day, businesses are turning to social media automation to help them achieve their social media goals.
However, social media automation is a bit of a disputed topic. What exactly can I automate? Is it good or bad for my brand? Can it end up causing more harm than good in the long run?
In this post, we’ll take you through what can be automated, the pros and cons of each process and the social media automation tools or services you need to help you do it.
Ready? Let’s do this!
You can use social media automation to…
Automation isn’t always in the best interests of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So, understandably, there is a limit on what you can automate.
Let’s go into the 4 main things you can use social media automation for.
1. Grow your followers
Many brands start off looking at social media automation because they want to grow their followers quickly and cost-effectively.
There are hundreds of tools out there that can give you exactly that. However, different social media automation tools take a very different approach.
We won’t even mention bots and buying followers and likes. Brands with thousands of bot followers won’t get those favorites, retweets and likes that real, relevant followers can give you.
While getting followers in this way does make your brand appear popular at a glance; it’s exactly that: at a glance.
As soon as anyone clicks to see who follows you, they’ll just see a load of bots. This will give the game away that you’ve bought the followers – which can, in turn, make your brand seem disingenuine too.
Our recommendation is to never run a campaign to acquire followers and likes on your page unless it’s on the social media networks own advertising platforms i.e. Facebook and Twitter.
Like and Follow tools
Other social media automation tools automatically make your account like and follow other accounts, which should result in a number of those accounts following you back.
Most tools like these will unfollow accounts that don’t follow you back, which maintains a good follower-following ratio for your account.
In today’s world, having a decent following makes your brand seem legit. In many cases, customers will check out your twitter and Instagram followers before they go to your website- so first impressions are really important.
Growing an organic following can take serious time, effort and money. On the other hand, automating some of these actions can seem quick, easy and relatively cheap.
Whilst this is definitely a better option than buying followers and likes, there are still some risks involved.
First, there’s the chance that social media automation will lead to your account liking/following irrelevant- or, even worse, competitors’- accounts.
Second, there have been cases of suspension or blocks from social media platforms for using automated follow tools- which would kind of undo all the hard work you’ve put into growing your account.
Aside from these two points, there is of course the question of how sustainable this approach is.
Tools to help me do this?
If you do decide to go down this route, there are hundreds of social media automation tools out there.
Something to consider before you start, however.
While like and follow tools are ok to use, you do need to ensure that you have thoroughly researched what actions your tool will be making on your behalf.
Otherwise, you could find your account inadvertently taking actions that you wouldn’t have if you were managing your profile personally.
Here are some that are relatively low-risk, but still require very careful configuration and monitoring:
Narrow.io us one of the easiest social media automation tools to setup and manage. Most importantly, it has a low risk of the potential problems mentioned above.
Owlead claims to be able to attract up to 900 new followers per month. It’s also a relatively low risk option and pretty simple to setup.
Tweepi uses automation to give you a social media to-do list full of accounts to follow, posts to like, and more.
Tweetful automatically likes, re-tweets and follows accounts on your behalf on Twitter. It claims to only target real, relevant and engaged accounts.
Want to grow your following organically? Content is king! MixBloom focuses on curating, writing and sharing great content for you, so your followers will keep coming back for more.
2. Re-share old posts
With social media moving at such a fast pace, it’s almost impossible to ensure all your followers see every single one of your posts.
In fact, (particularly on twitter) something you shared just 10 minutes ago can now be old news.
Think about it: not all of your followers will be active at the time you share content- especially if you have an international audience with different time zones.
A great way to maximise your reach is to automate repeat re-shares of old content.
After all the hard work that goes into sourcing, curating, writing, scheduling and posting each piece of content, it would be really sad if a huge percentage of your audience didn’t actually get to see it.
Automating your posts to be shared again and again throughout the month means every piece of your content has a bigger chance of being seen.
This means more of all the good stuff: retweets, likes, shares, follows and, most importantly, website traffic!
Most tools will also give you the added benefit of posting at optimal times- further boosting your impressions.
If done well, automating re-shares is a highly effective way of getting a higher ROI from your posts. However, if done badly, it’s a surefire way to piss off your followers.
For example, if you share the same content over ten times in a week, or you use the exact same words every time, it can get a little old for your followers.
This not only runs the risk of your brand sounding robotic, but it also takes away the chance to re-sell the content to your audience.
For example, if your analytics are telling you a post didn’t do as well as expected, it would be silly to post it again with the exact same text and image, wouldn’t it?
Having an automation tool, however, decreases the likelihood of you writing fresh copy every time a post goes out.
Tools/services to help me do this?
Edgar does exactly what it says on the tin: it will re-share any of your evergreen content again and again to your social media accounts.
It’s pretty simple to use. You create a content library with all the posts you want to be re-shared over a period of time that you set. Edgar will then get posting for you!
Buffer is an all-round social media automation tool. It allows you to schedule posts, manage all your social media accounts from one place, and track performance with detailed analytics.
In Buffer’s Content Library, you can schedule each post for the times and dates you want your content to be posted. Buffer will automatically post those for you- and repeat the process as many times as you wish.
Already a Buffer user? Read our Complete Guide to Scaling your Social Media With Buffer.
Re-sharing our customers’ content is a big part of MixBloom’s strategy. We use internal tools to remind us (not do it for us!) to re-schedule posts.
This means that every time we re-share your content, it will be with new, carefully tailored words– making your brand sound a whole lot more creative, and a little less robotic.
3. Curate content
Curating content for your social media channels-i.e searching for relevant content and presenting it in a meaningful way- is possibly one of the most time consuming parts of social media management.
In fact, the time consuming nature of content curation is the reason why many businesses turn to automation in the first place.
However, out of all the processes you can automate, this is where the biggest risks lie; so listen up.
It is technically possible to automate your social media content curation completely.
You’d need to use an RSS feed or a content curation tool alongside an automation tool like Buffer.
If you use the right tools, chances are you’ll find some decent content to share. And, of course, using curation tools does save you the time and hassle of having to scan the internet daily for relevant content.
There are, however, much better ways to achieve this (and more).
We could write an essay here- but we’ll refrain.
When it comes to content curation, pure automation isn’t really possible without risking damage to your brand.
When people view your social media accounts, it’s because they want to see a personable side to the company.
If your account is full of never-ending links (no engaging text, re-tweets or conversations), your audience will be able to tell (a mile off) that there’s no human being behind your account.
So why should they listen to anything you have to say? Why should they trust your brand?
Not only this, you also lose control of what gets posted out there under your name.
Automation tools don’t discriminate against posts shared by your competitors, or videos discussing ideas and concepts that don’t line up with your company’s views.
This will not only affect your brand’s reputation, but it’ll also discourage your audience from following or engaging with your posts.
Want some awesome social media content inspo? Check out these 5 brands that are nailing their social media.
Tools/services to help me do this?
We’ve already said it, but when it comes to content curation, we’d recommend going for a service rather than an automation tool.
This will ensure you have full control of your content. However, if you want to go down this route, try:
Feedly is basically a news aggregator that brings together thousands of articles from the web for you to browse in one place. You can search by keyword, organise by category, and share to your social media accounts.
If you want to schedule your posts for a later date, you’ll have to combine the content you find on Feedly with a social media automation tool like Buffer or Hootsuite.
At MixBloom, we’re constantly building a content library filled with hand-picked articles, videos and images by our social media specialists.
Not only this, every post is custom written for you by professional writers to make sure your social media looks, feels and sounds like you.
No generic statements, no articles from your competitors, no off-brand messages- on MixBloom, it’s just highly relevant, top-quality content.
4. Schedule your posts
Not all automation tools do the hard work of content creation/follower acquisition for you. Some tools are there to simply help you manage, track, and improve your own social media efforts.
In our humble opinion, automating your schedule is the safest form of automation out there.
Scheduling your posts isn’t about handing the hard work over to someone else (and potentially losing control of your content), but to help you work smarter.
Scheduling tools encourage you to work in batches rather than switching from task to task.
Once you have a bunch of content curated, written, and ready to share, you can automate your posts by manually entering your content into a scheduler (we love Buffer!) just once a week or, even better, once a month.
Michael Hyatt described batching as a form of time management that allows a person to maximize concentration and decrease distraction.
This is super useful when it comes to social media, as a more productive posting schedule means a more consistent social media strategy- and consistency and frequency are super important if you want to keep your followers coming back for more.
Whilst scheduling tools are there to help with productivity, it still requires you to curate, write and upload your content into the scheduler.
If you’re a busy entrepreneur trying to run a business, chances are you don’t have time to do this. After all, content creation is the time-consuming part of social!
If you find content curation and writing takes too much time and effort, you may be more suited to automating and outsourcing your social media content creation to a social media manager or a service like MixBloom. Our professional writers will curate, write and schedule your content straight into your Buffer queue for you.
Tools to help me do this?
Buffer is a great automation tool that lets you manage all your social media accounts from one dashboard (we use it here at MixBloom!).
The main function of Buffer is to schedule your posts at your selected time and date, but there are loads of other cool features: a content calendar to organise your posts, detailed analytics, and browser extensions to schedule re-tweets and source content from RSS feeds.
Hootsuite also lets you manage all your social media content from one dashboard.
In addition to scheduling your posts at the time and date you wish, you can also monitor any mentions of your brand, find relevant conversations, and run competitions over multiple platforms.
What other options do I have?
Not keen on having a machine curate, produce and post your content?
Not to worry, there are other options out there that still lighten the load whilst giving you great (arguably even better) results.
Outsource your social media
Instead of a machine being in charge of your social media, outsourcing puts an expert professional in charge instead; what we like to call “social media heroes”.
It’s kind of like having an employee – or even a team of employees – without the usual headaches of hiring.
Outsourcing your social media not only saves you time, but it also keeps your accounts consistent and your content fresh.
However, outsourcing has it’s problems too. For example, it can be tough to find the right person, prices are sky-rocketing, and there’s always the risk of losing track of your content.
Want to find out more about outsourcing your social media? Read what common mistakes founders are making when hiring social media teams.
Key takeaway- what you can do today
Running a successful social media strategy is all about finding a happy balance between creating original, engaging content and using the tools/services to maximise your productivity and results.
For today, think about what your social media goals are. Do you want as many followers as possible? Do you want to boost engagement? Or maybe you want your articles to be seen by more of the right people?
Your answers to these questions will have a big impact on what (or if) you decide to automate you social media.
One thing is for sure though: whilst automation can be a great tool to use alongside your strategy, relying solely on automation tools will not provide the best results.
Sleep easy knowing your social media is being taken care of by professionals in the industry. Try MixBloom’s 7 day free trial. Sit back, relax, and watch your social media be awesome.