Let’s go back a couple of years.
See, a couple of years ago, the whole idea of social media automation was pretty new – and it didn’t necessarily make sense for a ton of people to be jumping on board that bandwagon.
Back then, you could manage your company’s social presence basically the same way you managed your personal one – update with whatever you want, whenever you want, all in real-time. It didn’t require a ton of time, thought, or effort. Ahhhhhh, the good ol’ days!
But DANG, things have changed – and everyone’s strategy is changing, too.
Part of it is because social media marketing just keeps getting more and more competitive – Twitter has around 271 million monthly active users now, but a few years ago, it didn’t have even half that many. That means it’s way, WAY harder to stand out from the crowd without a clear, data-driven strategy.
Facebook used to give brands massive organic reach, but over just the past year, its changing algorithms have been like a tightening noose. You can’t get by posting as much as you used to, because each post is only hitting a fraction the audience it used to!
What it comes down to is this: You can’t keep doing things the old-fashioned way.
“LAURA WE GET IT COME ON.” I know, I know – you don’t really need me to convince you of the virtues of social media automation. It’s cool. I gotcha.
BUT, that doesn’t mean that you can just hook yourself up with a brand new tool and start pluggin’ and playin’ like it ain’t no thang! That’s how people screw up, and that’s what gives the whole automation thing a SUPER bad name.
There are plenty of ways to TOTALLY SCREW UP your social media automation. Here are six MAJOR no-nos that you need to avoid at all costs.
1. DON’T forget about the importance of live engagement
Automating your social media is NOT a replacement for live engagement!
This is a MEGA important thing, but people forget it all the time, so I’mma just repeat it but in all caps:
AUTOMATING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR LIVE ENGAGEMENT!
Okay. Phew. Sorry to yell back there, but my gosh, I just can’t stress this one enough.
There are basically two ways to look at the live engagement issue. Here’s the wrong one:
- Plug social media status updates into your automation tool.
- Say, “Cool, now I don’t have to open Twitter for like, forever, because my posts are going out automatically.”
Here’s the RIGHT way to look at it:
- Plug social media status updates into your automation tool.
- Go about your day-to-day business, but check in on social on a regular basis. You may not have to write and post your updates in real time, but you can still favorite, share, and respond to other updates. Interact with your followers in real time, too. That rocks.
See the difference? Automation is meant to make live engagement EASIER – not to replace it. If you forget that, you’re forgetting the most important thing about social media marketing: it’s about your followers, NOT you.
2. DON’T assume that everything still works
So you posted a status update with a link to your blog in it a few months ago. That link probably still works, right?
Look, things change over time. The Internet works in weird ways. URLs and Twitter handles change. Bugs get in the system. People send their websites to a farm upstate where they’ll have lots of room to run and play. You can’t count on anything staying the same FOREVER.
Audit your updates from time to time and make sure everything still works.
I actually broke this rule myself, recently! I allowed an update to post on Facebook without checking the link, and whaddya know, it was broken. It took like, TWO SECONDS before people noticed, too – whoops!
So yeah, mistakes happen – but you can do your best to prevent them. Check up on your old links and whatnot occasionally to make sure they’re still relevant, or else you could look a liiiiittle bit silly.
3. DON’T share the same thing too frequently
You know for a fact that you can use the same status update more than once – because most of the time, hardly anybody sees them.
That does NOT mean, however, that you should use the same update ALL THE FRICKEN’ TIME. If you repeat yourself too often, it doesn’t look good.
So you might think, for example, that you should post the same update linking to your newest blog entry twice a day, every day, so that as many people see it as possible. Or you might write up a set of a dozen or so updates that you just repeat forever and ever.
If you think nobody’s gonna notice stuff like that, you’re wrong. You wanna promote a single post really heavily? Write up a handful of updates and throw them into your automation tool – don’t use the same one over and over. You wanna build up a library of updates? Well, build that sucker up! Don’t let updates repeat themselves so frequently that you sound like a robot. (How frequent is TOO frequent? Your mileage may vary, but I recommend at least 8-12 weeks between repeats.)
4. DON’T neglect your analytics
There’s a ton of data out there about when your followers are online, what types of posts they like the best, when you get the most shares, and so on – all you’ve gotta do is look at it.
The thing about that data, though, is that it doesn’t stay the same forever! Your performance data changes all the time – so keep checking it to make sure that you’re still on track.
You may have engineered the perfect posting schedule a few months ago, but what are the odds, you think, that it’s still relevant? You’ve gained followers. Lost followers. Heck, even little things like what time the sun goes down can have an effect on when your fans are online!
Take a look at those analytics periodically to make sure that the strategy you devised way back when is still working for you NOW – and tinker with your schedule if you need to.
5. DON’T stop paying attention to the world around you
I know I’ve been over this one before, but it really bears repeating.
Neglecting your social media just because it’s automated is like putting your car on cruise control and shutting your eyes for a nap. That’s not how it’s meant to be used, yo!
There WILL be times when you should turn off your marketing. Be ready to do it.
Does it happen often? No. It absolutely does NOT. Does that mean you don’t have to be prepared? No again!
I won’t even go on at length about this one. Everyone knows at least one corporate Twitter account that said something stupid at the wrong time. DON’T BE THAT GUY.
6. DON’T publish all the freakin’ time
We’ve all seen the statistics – the more you post to social media, the more engagement you get.
But – and this is a big BUT – there IS such a thing as posting TOO much. There comes a time when you straight-up hit critical mass, and it doesn’t make a difference whether you post 15 times a day or 50 times a day.
Well, not a GOOD difference, anyway.
Because when you post too often, even if every single post is brand-spankin’-new, you’re going to drive people INSANE. Posting too often is a sure way to lose followers fast.
How often is too often? That all depends. I know people who only post a few times per day, and that works for them. I know other people who crank out more than a dozen every 12 hours. It all comes down to trial and error, and seeing what works best for you. (This is another reason to monitor those analytics – you might be burning through updates when hardly anyone is online to see them.)
The other problem with posting too much? Posting too often doesn’t leave much room for live updates. If you have a stretch of the afternoon where you’re posting once or twice an hour, but you end up wanting to post some live, spur-of-the-moment updates, too, you could easily overwhelm your followers.
The best thing you can do is give your updates a little room to breathe. Don’t assume that you’ll be posting live all the time, because in most cases, you won’t – but make sure that your scheduled updates aren’t squished together so tightly that you don’t at least have the option.
So, what’d I miss?
To me, these are the six big DON’Ts of social media automation – but surely there are others, too. What are some of the biggest sins you see being committed in the social media marketing world? What does it drive you COMPLETELY NUTS to see marketers doing? Share your stories in the comments below, so we all know what NOT to do!