Social Media Automation: Top Tools and Tricks to Ramp Up Your Social Strategy
We’ve been hearing for a while now how automation is going to revolutionize the way we do business, and it’s true. Automation allows businesses to streamline routine tasks, freeing people up to focus on more “higher order” concerns that come with running a business.
However, we also need to keep in mind that while technology is awesome, it can’t do everything that a real, live person can (at least not yet).
You still need a flesh-and-blood human to:
- Create engaging social content to be shared via social automation tools.
- Keep an organized content schedule with an eye towards the best time to post and the preferred formats/conventions of each social platform.
- Communicate with your audience.
- Monitor and revise your social strategy over time.
Those “right-brain” activities, like creating and strategizing, are, ultimately, the tasks from which you’ll see the greatest amount of progress. It’s similar to the 80/20 rule, wherein 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. Instead of occupying yourself with the “trivial many,” you free yourself up to focus on the “vital few.”
That’s the real power of automation, and that’s what makes social media marketing an ideal place to start incorporating automation into your business strategy.
We all know that social media can be a total time-sink. However, many aspects of the social media process can be automated, reducing the amount of time you need to spend on the platform and allowing you to keep your focus on the big picture strategy.
3 Things to Keep in Mind for Social Media Automation
Automation is a bit of a contentious subject—and I’m not just talking about the debate over whether or not the next generation of technology will make jobs obsolete.
In certain circles, people will argue that you shouldn’t automate your social media marketing. Period.
They argue that what you gain in time, you lose in quality, but I can’t say that I agree. I’d say that instead of shunning the technology all together, we all just need to be smart about the way we implement an automation strategy.
Don’t just buy every flashy new do-dad you see pop up on a YouTube ad. Don’t expect technology to do all the work while you put your feet up. Technology is a tool, not a cure-all. Identify the processes that are wasting your time, the things that you could reasonably automate without sacrificing quality, and find the right tool from there.
So, with that being said, here are three things you need to keep in mind when you start incorporating automation into your social media strategy and selecting the tools that work for you and your business:
1. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Social media, especially, is about authenticity—creating an outlet through which you can connect with current and potential customers, clients, and fans. When you start doing things like automating replies to your direct messages, for example, that creates a perceived barrier between you and your customers that will make your brand feel colder and less accessible.
2. Find ways to “batch bake” your content as much as possible.
One of the best parts about social media automation is the ability to create a plan posts in advance. Instead of setting alarms to remind you to post throughout the day, you can simply set aside a couple hours every few weeks, set it, and (mostly) forget it. Yes, you’ll still need to log on to respond to comments and engage with other users, but you’ll drastically cut down on the amount of time you’d usually waste by stopping what you’re doing to worry about social media. If nothing else, this is one area where nearly every business can benefit from social media automation.
3. Strategy is everything.
All the tools in the world can’t help you if you don’t have a plan. Before you start posting, take a step back and consider the bigger picture. What are you trying to achieve? How are you going to do that? Take some time to research the platforms you want to post to—including demographics, how people like to engage, what type of content performs well, etc. Then, start planning out your posts. Don’t just post the same thing to every platform. Mix it up! That’s another great thing about automating your social postings; it allows you to strategize far in advance and execute a more complex content schedule with a deeper understanding of how everything works as pieces of a whole.
Best Tools for Social Media Marketing
An artist is only as good as his tools, right?
Unfortunately, there’s really no such thing as an all-in-one solution. It’s more about finding a good mix of tools that cover all the most common processes that eat up valuable time in executing your social media strategy. Some sites are awesome for social content scheduling and posting. Others are better for helping you manage your exchanges with customers and fans over social.
The following is a short list of tools that cover basically all your bases when it comes to social media automation—all the way from content generation to reporting:
Natter: Schedule your social posts and let Natter do the rest as it monitors, publishes, and reports on all your social content from one easy-to-use platform.
Missinglettr: Automatically generate extended social media campaigns from your blog posts using AI and machine learning to detect key quotes and images.
Nuvi: Get stunning and easy-to-understand social media reports that you can use for yourself or share with colleagues and clients.
Respond: Turn direct messages, mentions, and searches into “tickets” that live in a centralized inbox that allows you to consolidate and keep tabs on all your customer service messages.
Keyhole: Monitor hashtag performance, and get suggestions on hashtag alternatives to drive better discovery and engagement.
Remember, none of these are a replacement for critical thought and strategy. They’re simply tools to help you execute your plans. Until we build a bot that’s capable of creative thought (which hopefully won’t be anytime soon), your social media strategy still relies on consistent analysis and adaptation to get the best possible results.