When Social Media was Just a Newborn
When social media, and to a larger degree the Internet in general, first arrived on the scene, it felt like a second Renaissance. The concept of being able to connect and share with people halfway around the world felt like a science fiction movie. Except somehow, it was real.
Initially, the purpose was to communicate with people, who you otherwise probably wouldn't be able to meet, regarding shared interests. A person in Canada could bond over a shared love of 80’s metal music with someone who was 5,000 miles way in Japan.
Eventually, businesses realized the potential of this new medium and began using it to reach customers in ways that were once thought impossible. However, over time, the shine wore off and younger generations became increasingly less impressed with the “newness” of social media. Suddenly, the thought of having to type out a social post each day and then respond to comments seemed archaic and redundant.
Enter automation. Suddenly, a new Renaissance is now upon us again.
What is Social Media Automation?
Social media automation refers to the use of software or tools to schedule and automatically post content to social media platforms, such as Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and using algorithms to optimize the timing and content of posts for maximum engagement as well as managing and engaging with followers. This can include, but is not limited to, tasks such as scheduling posts in advance, using hashtags and keywords to increase visibility, and automatically responding to comments and messages.
Bottom line: it replaces manual and repetitive tasks and saves time.
What are the Benefits of Social Media Automation?
Businesses do not desire to make managing social media a full time job in and of itself, but rather to devote the majority of their time and resources towards customer satisfaction and retention. The goal is to build relationships with customers through engaging content, which in turn allows them to see the value of your product. That’s where automation comes in.
By automating certain tasks, businesses can stay consistent with a posting schedule, which is crucial for managing and scaling their social media presence. Additionally, it can help to increase brand awareness and revenue (get on the RevOps train!) by reaching a larger audience and tracking the effectiveness of social media campaigns. These time-saving measures allow marketers to allocate more resources to strategy, content, and creative problem-solving.
Different Methods/Approaches to Social Media Automation
Social media automation is not just a single strategy, but rather several different methods that can be used and tailored to the specific needs and goals of a business or marketing campaign. Some popular approaches/examples of how to automate social media marketing include:
In a game of word association, this would probably be the social automation method people think of first. Pre-scheduled posts allow users to plan and publish content at optimal times, even if they're not actively online. The less time that needs to be spent on making sure someone is pressing “post” everyday at a precise time, the more time there is for direct customer interaction.
The ability to pre-schedule posts with tags and videos is brand new in HubSpot and is a total game changer!
Social Media Listening
What is it?
In order for a business to succeed, they must have a certain level of brand awareness. With brand awareness comes the fact that somebody, somewhere, on some online platform is saying something about your business and/or product. To borrow a phrase from Supered CEO Matt Bolian, that means “you’ve gotta get really stinkin’ good” at social media listening.
The process of social media listening includes understanding both positive and negative customer feedback, monitoring mentions of your brand, and studying conversations which include certain keywords, the names of competitors, and any metric that you have identified that could potentially impact your business. If that sounds like a lot of work…it’s because it is a lot of work.
How Can Automation Help?
Social media automation software will monitor social media, across various platforms, for mentions of specific keywords or phrases and then automatically respond to those mentions. These tools typically use APIs to collect data from social media platforms and then use natural language processing and machine learning techniques to analyze the data and extract insights.
The data can be used to track brand sentiment, identify influencers, and monitor competitors. In addition, automation features for reputation management assist in pinpointing and addressing negative comments or reviews on social media platforms.
Automated A/B testing on social media platforms typically involves creating two or more variations of a post or ad, and then randomly showing the different versions to different groups of users. Metrics such as engagement rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate are then tracked and analyzed to determine which version performed better.
This process can be automated using software tools that can create and manage the different versions of a post or ad, and track and analyze the results. This allows for efficient and frequent testing to optimize the performance of a campaign.
Your business may offer the best product or service in the world, but that's not always good enough. Sometimes, you need someone famous to tell other people just how great it is. Influencer marketing enables businesses to collaborate with individuals possessing a large online following in the hopes of increasing their brand exposure.
Automated influencer marketing (try running that phrase by your grandparents) refers to the employment of software tools that streamline the process of identifying, contacting, and working with influencers. These automated tools can search for social media accounts with high engagement levels and provide analytics to measure the success of campaigns.
What are the Potential Downsides of Social Media Automation?
There are a million and one upsides to a business automating its social media cadences and practices. However, there are some downsides worth considering and weighing:
A Lack of Personalization
Automation rarely equals customization, and as a result automated messages and posts can come across as impersonal and may not resonate with individual users.
Spam…not the Food
Automated messages tend to be sent out at a high frequency, which can lead to users marking them as spam or unfollowing the account.
Lack of Flexibility
Automated systems may not be able to adapt to changes in new social media features and algorithms.
Two words a business never wants to hear. Although not a widespread problem, automated systems can send out messages to users who have opted out of receiving communications from a company.
Is Automation the New King?
Maybe. Probably definitely yes if more businesses learn to use it correctly.
Social media automation is one of those “the future is finally here” phrases. While it’s tempting to automate everything (or as much as possible) to avoid feeling like a company stuck in the stone age, it’s important to remember that automation should not replace human interaction and engagement on social media, but rather, it should be used to complement your overall social media strategy and make it more efficient.