Why You Should Automate (Some Of) Your Social Media Content

There is a debate among public relations and social media professionals about the automation of social media updates. Some say automation is a no-go. Others automate everything. As with many things online, the conversation tends to steer black or white. At BRG, we don’t believe everything should be automated, but we do think automation has a place in social media content strategy. In other words, we believe brands should live in the gray.

Why you should automate selectively and live in the gray:

Reason 1: Time is scarce

Public relations and marketing pros are very busy people. It’s easy to get caught up in an important project and forget to tweet, blog or post on Facebook. Scheduling time to engage with people on social platforms is a start. Be honest, how often do you hit the “remind me later” button?

What we end up with is sporadic social participation. Some brands tweet ten times in one day and then enter radio silence for two weeks. By pre-planning some content, you ensure that even on your busiest days, you never go silent. Always keep a watch on replies to those messages, no matter how busy you are.

Reason 2: Automation keeps you on message

Social media is a great platform for brands to share company news and insider information. Brands can speak to common questions and proactively help customers. Pre-planning this brand centric, typically one-way content ensures that these important subject areas are discussed.

If you are only engaging, you may be forgetting important information about the company that fans would like to hear.

Reason 3: Some things *like blog posts* should be shared everywhere

It is a definite no-no to link accounts together. We don’t recommend mirrored content from one network to another. However, if you draft a blog post, it makes sense to share that on your other social networks. Automating blogs to your social networks ensures that they go up in a timely fashion and saves around 15 minutes of sharing time per blog. That adds up, right?

Bottom line: Automating some content keeps the brand on message and frees up time to focus on day-to-day human engagement.

Why you should not automate everything:

Reason 1: Relationship building requires conversation

You’ve heard it, but it bears repeating: social media is about building relationships. To build relationships, brands need to place people behind the wheel of social media accounts and trust them to speak to customers on behalf of the company. Building relationships requires a two-way dialogue. Conversation. Gone are the days of blasting messaging at your audience without regard for their response.

Reason 2: One way broadcasting without engagement makes you look like a robot

If your Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of automated content, and you aren’t engaging in conversation, you aren’t trustworthy to the average social media user. You are a robot. (Don’t be a robot. Please.)

Exception to the rule- brands in regulated industries:

If your brand is in a highly regulated industry, it is very possible that there are rules in place that prohibit you from engaging with your audience. If this is a case, be transparent that your Facebook page, Twitter feed or blog is one-way and intended to deliver information to fans. Transparency wins every time.

Reason 3: Automation can look like spam, especially in relation to direct messages

Automating direct messages is always a bad idea. Do you have a creative introduction message designed to spark conversation? It’s a bad idea to automate it. Do you want people to click on a link to visit your website, read your latest eBook or check out your blog? Sending an automated direct message with that information a bad idea. In fact, many people immediately unfollow people who send automated direct messages.

Direct message automation is easy to detect, isn’t human, isn’t transparent, and at the end of the day it isn’t trustworthy.

Bottom line: Don’t automate everything. Strategically plan and pre-schedule some of your social media content. Doing so will leave you time to focus on the day-to-day engagement of fans. The day- to-day engagement will enable the brand to participate in meaningful conversations that help build relationships and customer service.