Should I automate my social strategy? When to react and when to schedule


When social media automation comes up in conversation, what are we really talking about? Well, it can be anything from scheduling blog tweets at weekends, responding to people who complain with the same ‘automated’ response, or even scheduling your brand to tweet when a certain keyword is mentioned. There is no clear answer as to whether to automate or not, but understanding the reasoning behind it should give us some inclination.

Why?

You could say it’s annoying, but data shows that customers engage with most social posts/tweets at weekends. So, unless we want to sit at home coming up with content on a weekend, posts should be automated during the week, ready for the weekend push. That’s it, right? Not at all, there needs to be someone there ready to engage in a conversation, or pick up the pieces if something goes wrong, too. Engaging in conversation is perhaps the most successful way to grow your following and increase brand awareness — unfortunately pushing out content alone won’t get you very far, you need to follow it up.

When you think about it, it makes sense that people engage the most at weekends. During the week we have time to post at work, but the people we’re trying to reach are at work themselves. At weekends, when social media teams are relaxing, the audiences are ready to listen (shakes fist at the injustice)!

Yet, social media platforms have come so far. From being a place to engage with friends, they’re now a place where brands can engage with us and we can engage with them; and we expect them to engage with us, at all times! Yes, this is customer service we’re talking about. When we want to complain, we want our query answered immediately. This is something that can never really be, and never should be, automated. But, has having constant access to information at our fingertips given rise to 24/7 social media? Maybe.

This is why automation, at the right time, on the right platform is brilliant: it makes life so much easier.

When?

You still need to know what the most popular times are for your content, however. Of course, this varies from brand to brand, but working around the following times are a good place to start:

Facebook: Tuesday 9pm – 10pm
Twitter: 8pm-10pm (not day specific)
LinkedIn: 9am – 10am (not day specific)

Running the post from these times, for instance, and over the weekend, should cast a wide enough net to reach the majority of your target audience. You can hit the cream of your audience during the timely periods when they are most likely to be engaged (to reiterate, work these out), the bulk over the weekend, and pick up any stragglers during the rest of the runtime. Of course, automation doesn’t mean your work is done, it just cuts down your workload. Keep checking on the post and react when appropriate. However, you can use tools to help you on your way. Hootsuite’s autoschedule, for example, is extremely helpful as it posts at the optimum time for your social network — they do half the work for you.

As mentioned by Buffer Social,“Social media isn’t a chicken rotisserie oven. Don’t set it and forget it.” This as gospel, but be careful: it’s easy to start automating absolutely everything. Of course, enjoy how easy it is, but automating every post is the fast track to becoming lazy. Finding some content, automating it, and forgetting about it is a poor method to adopt.

Remember, we’re in an age where personalisation is everything. Consumers expect so much more from us, and every engagement can’t be dealt with the same answer. So, please keep away from a blanket auto-reply — frankly, it’s embarrassing, and a potential audience ‘turn-off’. It’s the same with Auto Direct Messages: it could be another brand getting in touch with you, it could be a complaint, or praise (how great would that be!). Only having one automated Direct Message will be able to cover all these bases.

Another solid piece of take-away advice is to not schedule too far in advance. Clients can sometimes ask for social content calendars months in advance, and yes it can be done, but what you’ll be posting is very likely to be irrelevant by the time you post it. So be current with your automation — week-by-week is ideal, and 2 weeks can still work, but be aware of what’s happening and on trend at the same time, too. Sometimes, we need to be able to react on-top of our automated content: amazing insight into a current hot topic can catapult your brand awareness.

Remember, too, that clickbaity titles grab our attention. It’s so important to read what you’re automating (or even pushing out organically), as some articles grab you in and push out a completely different opinion, which can cause negativity within your audience.

We’re not saying don’t automate, we’re saying be careful how you do it. When done correctly it can be brilliantly helpful, but you could quite easily open up a can of worms as well. On social, everyone has an opinion they want to express — that’s what it’s there for really. So automate with caution, use it to the full, but keep your ears to the ground.

This is just one tiny part of social strategy, so if you’re a bit overwhelmed by it all, then just give us a shout. We’re here to help.

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