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Social media usage is no longer limited to people just being social online; it is now a major tool  for marketing business and brands.  As social media becomes more important for businesses, most incorporate it within their brand marketing, and in turn want to make a good ROI.

With the “newness” of social media come many unanswered questions, naturally on the results garnered by engaging in social media… on ROI, on value and on measurement.

A deciding contributing factor on results and value is a social media tactic that continues to divide opinion – namely whether or not business should venture into automated engagement. Automating social media activities is arguably a very controversial topic.

Many believe that you should never automate your social media activities because, after all, it’s supposed to be social. There is also a fair share of businesses that believe automating to be effective and less time consuming.

In  today’s day and age it can be very tempting for businesses to automate their social networking workloads. After all, one less thing to constantly worry about!

Recently there has been an increasing range of softwares hitting the market that allows you to schedule and manage your tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn profiles, etc. In theory this means that you can simply set up these programs to manage your posts and then sit back and relax. It sounds perfect in theory but there are a number of potential drawbacks like irrelevancy or insensitivity.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. That’s what 3H’s Chief Creative Officer, Miriam Hara always says!

I tend to agree with this stance as I think social media shouldn’t be automated. What’s the point of using social media if you’re not being personally social? It’s like owning a Ferrari  but getting a chauffeur to drive it…does that really make sense? Social Media is a thrilling channel for business to be part of. It’s fresh, it’s exciting, its very now.

It’s all about being current and staying relevant
If you’re not writing your tweets in real time, you are not taking into account what’s currently going on in the world. More importantly you can’t engage in real time. The very aspect of automation takes you out of the engagement that most brands want to harness!

It only takes seconds to turn something bad into something good… or vice versa. If there’s something relevant in your industry… or a controversy that breaks out that touches your business and brands… you want to be tweeting about that.This could have a serious impact on your company’s reputation and social standing, and sometimes there’s no coming back on top. You must take this fact into consideration that your posts are sensitive and relevant to current affairs.

Is it human? Or not?
As if this isn’t already an issue, you don’t’ want your posts or tweets being mistaken for spam! Think this through. If you have taken the time to set up a blog,  develop content for that blog, established a Twitter account, then why take the shortcut on the last step and peeve off the people have taken the time to follow you and make them feel that they aren’t worthy of timely conversation.

Spread the social around!
The bottom line is that you need to look at your social media strategy and determine the approach that’s right for your business, not someone else’s. If you are a small business, with not too many employees and a lot of workload, automating your social media can be very attractive… However, I would caution against it. Social Media should be part of your business’ culture… it’s part of your business’ voice. So spread the social around! It doesn’t have to be one person who is solely responsible. If you’re a business owner, it’s a great way to develop rapport with your employees as well as with your customer’s communities.

After all, that’s what social media is all about!

I’d love to hear what you think.

Do you automate or schedule any of your social media activities? Why or why not? Do you think this approach helps or hurts a business?