How does the above statement sound? Does it sound like the best business strategy ever, or does it sound like a recipe for disaster? Does it surprise you that there are people who actually automate their Tweets on Twitter, and updates on Facebook? Then they just sit back and watch a stream of tweets and messages get posted automatically.
If that sounds like the best approach to social media, here are some questions you need to answer:
- Sure you will post without manual intervention. But what about responses to your post? Will you just ignore them? Isn't direct interaction one of the major purposes of developing a social presence?
- Since you cannot predict the future, your social messages will not bear the hallmark of a good social message: relevance. Are you ok with the fact that your messages will actually sound like they were scheduled, instead of painstakingly crafted for the benefit of the reader?
- What if the message is not just irrelevant, it is actually wrong or offensive? Have trouble believing that. Consider the case of the RadioHead concert scheduled for Jun 16, 2012, at Toronto, Canada. Owing to a stage collapse, one person died and the show got cancelled. The promoter, "Live Nation," immediately tweeted, requesting people not to show up for the concert, as it was cancelled. But what Live Nation forgot was that they had already scheduled a tweet for half an hour later. So the automated tweet went out. It said something to the effect of, "Share your photos of the concert...." Isn’t that the best example of social media automation gone bad?
Recommendations About Social Media Automation
Let's go back to evaluating the need or justification for social media automation in the first place. Here is what I think:
- Go ahead and let some automated messages be part of the basket of messages you post.
- Make sure that readers get the impression that responding and interacting are the primary objectives of your social activity.
- The interaction should not be restricted to your manual messages. Readers are likely to interact even with your automated messages. Do not ignore them.
- Social interaction is not only about posting messages, and responding to reactions to your messages. You have to proactively read what others post and respond to that too.
- If you are like several other ecommerce businesses, you are probably lamenting the lack of availability of RoI metrics for social media. At least when there are some analytics available, and you get to know how different audiences are reacting to different messages, you need to learn from that, and react appropriately. Scheduled messages do not allow you to do that.
- While some of us are still dwelling over the Facebook vs. Twitter debate, others have decided to maximize their social presence by participating in all major social media platforms. If they try to automate their social updates, quite likely their Facebook updates will sound like Twitter. And no one on Facebook likes that. At the very least customize your automated messages to follow the expected protocol on the social media site that it will be published on.
- The final word of advice is to ensure that you are not publishing for the sake of publishing. No one wants to read your message at any cost. You are not that important. People want to read messages that are either valuable or engaging, preferably both. Regardless of whether you are automating your message publication, or creating manual messages, make sure you follow this golden rule.