Most small business owners understand that social media is a significant piece of a comprehensive marketing strategy, but many don’t have the resources to dedicate a person or team to managing their social media accounts. That’s where automation comes in! Putting your social media efforts on autopilot helps you free up some of your day without missing out on prime marketing opportunities for your business.
Afraid of bombarding your audience with posts? Worried you’ll lose the social aspect of social media? The key is finding the perfect amount of personality and personalization to avoid that dreaded automated feel. Follow these steps to find a balance between social media automation and your personal touch. These can work in unison to save you time and promote your brand — all without seeming cold and robotic.
Use Social Media Automation Thoughtfully
It’s perfectly okay (and highly recommended) that you use automation with your social media accounts, but don’t take an entirely hands-off approach. Using automation without adding your touch can result in social media posts that are impersonal or spammy, and that’s no good. Among the reasons why followers disengage and unfollow? They don’t connect with your message.
To avoid that, put some thought into setting up your posts. Don’t schedule a campaign and then forget about it. You should always review social messages and tweets before they go live. Be cautious about what you’re posting and when, and leave room for sharing last-minute ideas or interesting content that comes your way.
Tailor Your Posts to Each Channel
Each social media platform has a different purpose and vibe, and you should take this into account when you’re crafting posts and scheduling automation. What social media outlets are most used by your audience? Here’s a look at the Big Three:
With more than 2.01 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the world’s largest social media network. Though the engaged age range is broad, this channel is most useful for reaching more mature audiences. Automate posts featuring images, videos and updates about your small business, and throw in an occasional spontaneous share. Your followers will also enjoy interesting links that are fresh and timely.
The short-and-sweet design of Twitter makes it a powerful tool that users go to for expertise, thought leadership and breaking news. Luckily for you, some of that is perfect for automation! Give followers a memorable gem within the 140-character limit so they’re compelled to retweet, and add a relevant hashtag (like #motivationmonday) to join in the larger conversation. When something newsworthy pops up in your field, use the opportunity to craft a tweet in the moment. Another plus? Twitter is a high-volume content space; the more you post, the better, which is why automation comes in handy here.
LinkedIn boasts the world’s largest online professional network, giving users a social media outlet for career- and business-related connection and sharing. What does this mean from an automation standpoint? You can preplan much of your LinkedIn content, just keep it related to your products, services and industry.
Feeling overwhelmed? Take a breath; now think of yourself as a symphony conductor. A horn plays a note much differently than a string instrument, but they’re all following the same music. Use this when balancing the different social media networks. You can provide the same content, but in appropriate variations to match the network.
Join in Social Conversations
Just because you’ve automated social posts doesn’t mean you should take personal conversation out of the equation. When followers like, comment, share or retweet your content, take part in the discussion! Answer any questions posed and add your thoughts to social exchanges. Be lively and helpful; this is a great opportunity to show your expertise without coming across as a know-it-all. This can lead to stronger relationships with your clients and greater brand loyalty.
Change Up Your Strategy Occasionally
It’s a standard business practice: Define your goals and then adjust your strategy to meet them. Now apply it to your social media marketing. Trying to increase brand awareness? Want to build relationships and customer loyalty? Looking to generate leads? All of these take time and the implementation of different strategies as goals are met and changed.
Don’t start posting randomly. Make a plan and pick the right content. If something doesn’t work, change it up. Try increasing your posts on LinkedIn and gauge how your audience reacts. If you see more likes and shares, you made the right move! If engagement wanes, change it up again. Try fewer posts on LinkedIn and more on Twitter. The social media world is constantly evolving, so your strategy should too. Learn what works and what doesn’t, and modify accordingly.
Bonus: A Few Do’s and Don’ts
- DO use social media management tools to simplify the automation process. Hootsuite and Buffer are two popular options, providing free and subscription services to monitor and maintain multiple social media accounts.
- DON’T schedule automations too far in advance. Give yourself some time to make last-minute changes and adjust for unexpected events.
- DO try tools that generate relevant content. It’s time-consuming (and impossible) to wade through all of the information out there. There are options available that can find relevant information for you and put it in one place so you can repost later when it comes time to schedule.
- DON’T automate direct messages (DMs) on Twitter. Many users — including spammers — do this. Automated messages feel automated. If you want to connect one-on-one with a user, you’re better off crafting a personalized message.
- DO include real-time interaction on each of your accounts as part of your social media strategy. An occasional personal touch can make a big impact.
DON’T forget to review posts before they go live.
You understand that social media is an integral part of a successful, far-reaching marketing strategy, but you don’t have the time to tackle it along with the rest of your business. Let automation help! If you put in a little effort to balance social media automation with personalization, you can see a big payoff. With some basic knowledge, a little forethought and an occasional scheduling session, your social media efforts can become a well-oiled machine that keeps you relevant and in touch with your audience across social media channels.
Prefer an even greater hands-off approach? OutboundEngine can put email and social media marketing on autopilot for you.
Updated 9/22/17; Originally published 11/7/15