For most digital marketers, marketing automation has been a lifesaver. Now marketers don’t have to set their alarms for ridiculous hours just so they can reach customers in other time zones. They can instead plan posts for the next week and not have to think about posts until the following week rolls around.
With all these benefits, however, automation for social media does comes with a few drawbacks. Many marketers are now finding that too much of a good thing might be more damaging than helpful.
So the question remains: should you use marketing automation for social media? Here are the pros and cons of social media automation so you can better decide for yourself.
Pro: Easy and simple
If you already know how to post on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site, then you already know how to use automation software. These systems import your data from your social media accounts and let you work with them all from the same application. You do not have to bounce between accounts.
This simplifies your work and makes everything much more manageable. If you want to share the same blog post across multiple platforms, all you have to do is select the social media accounts you want to post on, type out your post and insert links, schedule it and then sit back at watch. Your posts will hit your social media accounts all at the scheduled times.
Con: Robot syndrome
Sometimes the easiness of social media automation is the problem. Because posts and tweets are now so easy to churn out, they begin to sound robotic. They are stiff and they lack the certain human appeal that makes social media work.
Your followers can usually guess when something was posted via marketing automation software. Maybe you posted a popular video long after its popularity dropped off or maybe the Twitter trends you are including on Monday are not so trendy by Friday. Remember that real-time posts can show far more emotion than an automated post.
Pro: Optimising posting time
Every audience is different. If you target students between the ages of 13-17, you might post early in the morning while they are on their way to school or after 4, when they’ve just gotten home from school. If you target business professionals, you might want to wait until after they get home from work to target them.
Marketing automation software can take some of the guesswork out of this process. You will know exactly when you audience is the most active on social media and when you should be posting to get the most views. This is especially important for social media platforms like Twitter. Most experts agree that a single tweet only has an 18-minute shelf life, meaning after those precious 18 minutes the tweet gets lost in the clutter. Make sure your content has a chance and post when your audience is engaged.
Con: You give yourself away
Or rather, your marketing automation system gives you away. More social media platforms display where their posts came from, such as “posted via Hootsuite” or Buffer. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this (if more consumers understood automation, they would understand), it can make your genuine content look more like an advertisement than an actual post.
If you are solely relying on automation, your followers are going to wonder if any of your posts are genuine. They may choose to unfollow you or hide your posts if you come across as too advertised. Followers want to learn from the companies they follow, not be bombarded with ads.
Pro: Time does not matter
In the current global economy, your customer base is probably not limited to your town or region. In fact, you may have customers all over the world who view your website and decide to buy from you. They deserve to be able to read your content on their time too… which might happen to be 12 hours ahead of your own time.
Turn off those alarm clocks and sleep in. No matter what time of day your users are active, you can still target them with social media automation. Schedule your posts for when users all around the globe are most active and hit the snooze button on your alarm.
Con: Too much posting
Just because you can schedule posts anytime you want does not mean that you should. Just as any user’s over-posting can become tedious to his or her followers, a company that posts too much falls into the same category. Unless you are primarily posting cat videos or photos of dogs being goofy, your followers do not want constant updates from you.
Posting content for the sole reason of posting content is not genuine and will annoy more of your followers. Once followers notice the almost constant stream of posts, they will look more closely at the time stamps and realise that these posts are schedules and not made by a real person.
Consistency can come through in your voice and your content. Because marketing automation gives you the time to better plan your posts, you can take the time to create a certain voice or personality for your company and make it more consistent. Your followers will come to expect your serious, funny or expert personality to shine through.
You should also be posting consistently good content. Your readers will be more loyal to you if they find true value in your posts. Marketing automation gives you the time to search for good articles filled with good information, rather looking for fluff pieces.
With some marketers, social media work stops after the last tweet is scheduled, but what about all those messages or questions that have been posted to your Facebook wall or tweeted at you? Did you respond to any of them?
Marketing automation can make people forget about the other part of social media marketing – the communication itself. If you fail to respond to messages and questions, your audience is going to think you don’t care.
It is clear the marketing automation has some serious benefits, but if used incorrectly, it can hinder a campaign more than help it. Most digital marketers find it best to strike a balance between real-time posts and automation. Try out both and see what works best for your company.