digital marketing, digital strategy, social media marketing

Social media automation – could it actually be bad for your brand?

Now that social media is such a huge part of many organisation’s digital marketing strategies, it’s only natural that developers would create a million and one tools to help marketers manage their social media activity. There are lots of apps and tools to choose from, with HootSuite, Buffer, Bitly and Everypost being amongst the most popular in lists of the very best social media management apps.

Buffer, in particular, allows you to schedule all of your social media messages. From just one place, and in a couple of clicks, you can post and share your content across a range of social media platforms. This is a hugely popular tool which speaks particularly to businesses, which need to maintain a consistent social presence while keeping costs and man hours to a minimum.

Scheduling posts is a great way to keep your brand’s social networking profiles active and consistent, and it can save a huge amount of time. But is there potentially a downside to automating your digital marketing efforts in this way?

Does social media automation take the ‘social’ out of social media?

One important thing to consider before throwing your lot in with automated social media management tools is whether they take the human, or the social, element out of the medium. The joy of social media, and the way that it works best, is when it is a two-way conversation. Brands tend to perform better when they connect, engage, respond and communicate with their customers, rather than marketing ‘at’ them.

As most digital marketers know, tone is also very important when it comes to engaging social media users. Automation does away with off-the-cuff comments, topical jokes and witty posts based on breaking news, all the kinds of things that give brands an engaging tone and an attractive ‘human’ persona. If users engage with your automated posts, there could also be delays in responding on your side, which can put a dampener on the conversation.

So, what’s the verdict?

As for whether you should be using social media management tools or not, it really is all about balance. You need to manage automation cleverly, so that users don’t even realise that you’ve scheduled the posting of your content, while reducing the time-intensive element of social media management.

As SocialBro’s chief executive Javier Buron, commenting in a recent article in the Guardian, says:

“There’s nothing wrong with automation in itself, it’s about how you use it. Thoughtless, generic posts can indeed be damaging but it depends on your audience and how the automated actions are perceived by them. Automation, when managed correctly, can help deliver personalised engagement that will enhance rather than damage a brand’s reputation.”

By all means, use automation tools to save yourself time. However, you should never underestimate the importance of ‘the human element’, both in the content you post online and the customers who view it. As with any digital marketing campaign, developing a properly thought-out strategy is key.

What do you think about automated tools like HootSuite – do they help make your life easier or do they simply flood the internet with generic content? 

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