Social media marketing has become one of the most prominent ways for companies to interact with customers. But how can you interact with hundreds and thousands of social media fans and followers while maintaining a high level of value with each social touch point? Automation can help scale social marketing efforts, but when should it be used – and when shouldn’t it?
Were happy to have Adam Covati, founder of social marketing leader and Silverpop partner Argyle Social, offer his expert insights regarding best practices for using automation in social media.
For those of us marketers who spend time managing social media, a constant concern is how to scale what we do without completely turning into a robot. In an ideal world, a person could respond to every follow, inquiry, complaint and compliment — but we don't live in that world. So, a critical part of managing social media is determining what we can automate. And, of course, how to do it well.
What Should Be Automated in Social Marketing
Rote tasks that are always performed the same way and usually yield the same results are excellent candidates for an automated approach. In these cases, you're striving to give customers what they want as quickly as possible, and automation can help achieve that without sending the wrong message. For example:
- Registration welcome messages: Webinars, newsletters, white papers, demo requests — if people give their information to your organization, they’re expecting a response sooner than later. If you have their Twitter handle, automation can ensure a timely follow up via that channel and make it easy for registrants to share to their social network. For example, if a Webinar attendee registers using his Twitter login, then thank him right away and have an @mention scheduled for the day of the Webinar as a quick and easy reminder.
- Follows and follow backs: Social is focused on person-to-person connections, and it’s always beneficial to ensure those connections start with a good first impression. An auto-introduction, direct message or follow back is a great way to start a conversation with anyone who shows interest on social channels.
- “Far in the future” follow-ups: Bad timing is a huge problem for landing a sale, so scheduling follow-ups for the next month, quarter or year is pretty common. Social can be used to restart conversations in a more casual way. So, consider prefacing or supplementing your email nurture campaign with a scheduled check-in via direct message on Twitter or message on LinkedIn. This can be done in conjunction with an upcoming event or Webinar as an intro to probe for renewed interest.
- Content curation. The majority of social activity revolves around curating and sharing stories. Tools like Feedly make it simple to gather news from multiple stories, while tools like Argyle Social’s Hopper ensure curated content is published evenly throughout the day.
What Shouldn’t Be Automated in Social Marketing
Dynamic conversations that require human thought, foresight or interpretation and build interpersonal relationships are generally poor candidates for automation. For example:
- Social exchanges. The goal of automation is to give you more opportunities for social conversation. Actual engagement and interest in another person should never be automated.
- Customer complaints. The one thing that makes an angry customer angrier is feeling ignored. Automatically notifying a customer you got their complaint is acceptable, but a real person should follow up within 24 hours.
- Important introductions. Not all connections are created equally. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a position to engage with some pretty important people, and in those times a personal touch can go a long way.
Where the Human Fits into the Machine
These rules aren’t black and white, and it’s up to you to decide where social automation will and won’t be used based on your knowledge of your business. If you’re not sure what to do, then talk internally, engage your managers and fellow marketers, or ask a group you trust on a social site. Get opinions and experiment to figure out what mix works best for your organization.
TL;DR People are important to making social media social, but they aren't necessary for every step. Computers are there to do the menial work, freeing you up to do a better job of engaging in conversations. Ask yourself, “Does this automation help me communicate more effectively?” And go from there.
Argyle Social is a social media management system that allows businesses to manage, measure and improve their social media efforts. Argyle's robust publishing tools allow for scheduled and automated posting, direct interaction within an engagement dashboard, assignment of posts for follow-up, post approval, and granular posting permissions amongst users. To learn more, visit www.argylesocial.com.
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2) Video: “Using Social to Build Trust”
3) Blog: “BFFs: Twitter Lead Gen Cards, Political Fundraising and Behavioral Marketing”