Time is a precious commodity. You've been convinced of the importance of social media and the impact it has on your overall marketing but finding the time to ‘fit it all in’ between the 1,486 other items on your to-do list is challenging. Believe me, I get it! I’m in the same boat.
We know that for Social Media Marketing to be genuinely effective and deliver good ROI, participation needs to be consistent. There’s no room for sporadic interaction and engagement as your followers will simply lose interest and move on.
So what are we to do? Employing a dedicated social media manager would be ideal. But what if your budget simply does not allow for this? (Many SMB's can't justify this when initially starting out.) That leaves the option of using a social media marketing tool to automate social media on your accounts. Sure, it’s a compelling option and most definitely has its advantages – but be warned – there are a number of disadvantages too.
Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of scheduling social media.
4 Undeniable Benefits of Scheduling Automated Social Media Updates
1. Time Management - By blocking out time in your calendar to schedule your posts frees you up to work on other important daily tasks while your social media posts go out on time.
2. Extended Reach - You can pre-schedule tweets for times outside of office hours which is particularly effective for businesses who’s target market goes beyond local borders.
3. Multiple Platform Management – Being able to manage multiple platforms - such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn - all in a central place, makes it easier to maintain all accounts effectively. This also helps to diversify your content for the various platforms.
4. Consistent Presence – By pre-scheduling your posts, you are able to stick to regular and consistent timeslots to take posts live. This delivers the impression of a steady social media presence.
3 Glaring Disadvantages of Automated Social Media Posts
1. Obviously Automated – I can quite easily pick up on social media accounts that are scheduled posts or even automated retweets and shares. Regularly rotated posts stand out as automated when you see the same showing in your timelines over several hours or several days. It gives the impression that there isn’t a ‘real’ person on the other side of that account, merely a robot pushing out updates as scheduled. It essentially removes the ‘social element’ from social media.
2. Slow Response Time – If you are automating your social media updates, chances are you are doing so to be able to be ‘off’ the platforms for an extended period of time. In the fast-paced social media environment that is quite a dangerous approach, most especially when it comes to customer service and support aspect of social media. Followers expect almost instant responses from brands on social media when posing questions or complaints. Those that don’t actively monitor their accounts may very well miss out on an opportunity to either gain or satisfy a customer or dissipate a potential social media crisis.
3. Appearing Disconnected – Imagine a significant tragic event happens and your posts continue going out as scheduled, with no mention or acknowledgement of an event that has the attention of your followers. Some will feel that you are apathetic to the situation and that can create a backlash of loss in followers and quite possibly a big attack on you too. This happened to Guy Kawasaki after the Boston Marathon bombing where his scheduled, inappropriate tweets continued to publish despite the attention of the world being on a particularly catastrophic event. It made him appear totally out of touch with the world, which cost him thousands of followers.
So How Can You Effectively Manage Your Social Media Accounts?
- If you are going to schedule posts, be aware of the ‘automated’ feel of the posts. Try tweaking wording slightly if you are going to share the same post multiple times so that something appears different.
- Plan out your calendar ahead of time and ensure that you are carefully timing posts to reach different time zones (where applicable) when appropriate.
- Allow for flexibility and keep on top of trending issues and news in your industry. Set up alerts for certain keywords and terms in Google Alert and use content aggregation tools to bring relevant articles to you. With this set up you are still able to ‘schedule’ the bulk of your posts but still share current content with your followers.
- The secret lies in finding a good balance between automation and manual participation. There is nothing wrong with using social media automation for elements of your social media strategy as long as you actively monitor the conversations, respond and react when needed and not let opportunities to be proactive about connecting socially pass you by. HubSpot's Social Inbox is a great tool for monitoring conversations around your brand and industry without physically needing to be present on the networks.
How do you manage your social media marketing? Do you use automation or manual participation exclusively? What challenges do you find with each approach? Share your thoughts and experience in the comments below.