If you spend more time digging into hashtags or answering DMs than coming up with new content ideas or planning your long-term social media strategy, you can probably use a shortcut. It's time to think about automating social media.
No, we're not talking about trying to improve your vanity metrics by pestering people with weird bot comments. These are tools that take on administrative tasks like posting, monitoring and reporting so you can keep your social presence branded, current and authentic while spending less time in everyday life.
The thing about top-notch social media automation is that – if done right – it can be virtually invisible to the outside eye. That makes it difficult to find out what the pros are up to behind the scenes.
Read on to learn more about the practices and tools social media professionals are using to save time and get results.
Bonus: Get a free social media strategy template to plan your own strategy quickly and easily. Also use it to track the results and present the plan to your boss, teammates and clients.
What is social media automation?
Social media automation uses software tools to do some of the time-consuming tasks associated with maintaining a professional presence on social media. Examples of automating social media include scheduling posts early, curating content for republication, testing routine customer inquiries, and generating analytical reports.
When done right, automating tedious or time-consuming tasks will free up your time so you can focus on the critical, impactful creative and strategic work that moves the needle towards your real goals. Less time scrolling, more time selling.
However, Not all social media tasks can or should be automated. Often times, the more popular types of automation are the ones that look lazy, spammy, or fake.
For example, paid Instagram bots that like, follow, and comment are painfully obvious to savvy Instagram users. And using them is a very bad look for reputable brands.
Let's take a look at the types of automation that work and the types that should stay in the dirty corners of digital marketing.
The DOs and DON’Ts of automating social media marketing
Integrating social media automation into your workflow can take some initial work, especially if you're used to doing it all yourself. The same applies if you are part of a larger, more complex department and need to request a buy-in from your team.
Here are some tips to help steer your efforts in the right direction.
Don't send the same message on every network
Cross-posting the same text across all of your social accounts can save a few minutes, but the credibility cost is high. If a tool (including the social platform itself) gives you the option to automatically post to other platforms, you will almost certainly want to decline.
Audiences on different platforms have different expectations, demographics and vocabulary and don't realize that this can look sloppy or touchless. Instead, take the extra time to tailor your message to the audience of each platform. At least you want to:
- Review and adjust user handles
- Check and adjust the image specifications (file type, size, cropping, etc.).
- Checking and adjusting hashtags (number and use)
- Check your vocabulary and adjust it (i.e. Retweet vs. Regram vs. Share).
Post on your audience's schedule
As a marketer, everything we do is tailored to our audience. That includes posting when it's online, and unfortunately not when we have a spare second between meetings.
There are two steps you need to take to optimize and automate your booking plan:
- Use a planning tool to create your posts in advance.
- Evaluate your analyzes and plan your posts so that your target audience is on the platform.
Your social media posting schedule will be influenced by the platforms you focus on and the habits of your particular audience. You can use the best standard time to post on social media platforms and rate it specifically for your target audience using analytics tools.
DO NOT "set and forget"
Even with legitimate social media automation, keep in mind that your tools do not use good judgment. In fact, they have no judgment at all. If you set an evergreen post to tweet forever every Friday at 11 a.m., it does so with no shame or remorse. (And no content is that evergreen.)
Whether you're a solo preneur or part of a large corporate team, use a tool with built-in, customizable approval processes to ensure your posts are copied, branded, and free of embarrassing mistakes.
(Source: @ McDonalds – Kudos to the social team for keeping this fun bug up for the past three years, for everyone's pleasure.)
The other risk of hands-freeing your social scheduling tool is that world-changing crises are constantly happening on social media, and a poorly timed post can leave your brand looking touchless or numb.
Pro tip: Schedule your posts in batch, but know what's happening internally and globally. Just because your car has cruise control doesn't mean you can take your eyes off the road, Elon.
DO NOT automate your behavior or comments
On a social level – like in life – one size definitely doesn't fit everyone. At Hootsuite, we run automation experiments to test various bot services. Long story short, your promises are not being kept, and they can damage your relationships with your audience permanently. (Believe me, if automated comments worked I would be the first to turn on a bot for my family group chat.)
Using bots to track / unfollow people like posts, or worst of all, leaving pre-written comments can put your reputation at risk. First impressions are crucial, and you don't want your interactions with prospects to look fake, crazy, or lazy and have a bad taste in your mouth.
And to be very clear, it probably isn't a good idea to create a series of bots to overdo your brand.
The time you spend keeping your relationships authentic and human pays off in your ROI on analytics and social media.
Pro tip: When it comes to conversations, the more legitimate form of automation is a tool that lets you process your DMs, comments, and tags in one place, consistently and at scale. For example, Hootsuite Inbox's semi-automated Saved Replies feature lets you cycle through appropriate, authentic text based on the conversation and your customers' needs.
Offer customer support around the clock
When it comes to customer care, 64% of people would rather notify a brand on social media than make a phone call. And 76% of the messages businesses receive on social networks are related to customer service.
You have three options for answering customer service inquiries:
- Pay to have customer service representatives on deck 24/7
- Use automated bots to manage expectations and direct requests
- Make your customers read (A.K.A. ignore them)
These days, social customer service expectations are a little different than public conversations. It's generally fine – and even expected – to have a chatbot or an automatic response to handle straightforward queries and properly route customer service requests.
Pro tip: Check out the Facebook Messenger bots or read our recommended automated customer support tools.
Listen to the conversation
No doubt there are people in your life (hopefully not your manager, but probably your parents) who believe that your job as a social media manager is to watch TikTok all day. We can't help you with your mom (mine tells her friends that my job is to "write those spam emails"), but I want to assure you that I really respect that you are trying to use TikTok efficiently see.
Social listening tools flag conversations, topics, and mentions so you can stay up to date on the social happenings without being seduced by the algorithm. Social listening is the most efficient way to:
Overall, with the right tools, social listening is one of the best ways to drive engagement. Check out our favorite tools in the list at the end.
DO NOT babysit your messages
Ads cost money, and poorly optimized ads cost more money. The added pressure of a shrinking budget can make it difficult to break away from your ad dashboards. Instead of spending your day staring at your cost-per-click and digging into your ad metrics, automate the most important steps in your social media ads.
Organic and paid social networks usually require different strategies. However, ads are so data driven that automation is the best strategy here.
One of the easiest shortcuts is a tool (like Hootsuite Boost) that you can use to automatically promote your top performing organic content. When you have a self-run post on your hands, be sure to toss a few dollars on it to make sure it has the best snowball chances. For example, you might want to show a post that gets twice your average number of shares to a wider audience. Hootsuite Boost automates this trigger so it happens whether you are at your desk and staring at it or not.
Bonus tip: Split testing (or A / B testing) your social ads is pretty much mandatory if you want to hit your KPIs. However, it is cruel and unusual to bother with hand testing ads. Using a split testing tool like AdEspresso might sound like an extra math step, but once you've got it set up, your results will be improved with little effort.
7 social media automation tools to get it right
Now that we've looked at best practices for automating your social media presence to save time, let's look at the top tools you can use to achieve this.
This is our preferred social media planning tool for obvious reasons. It has an automatic scheduling feature that picks the best time for your audience and allows you to publish more and high quality content in less time.
This video shows you the basics:
Zerofox is an app that alerts you to threatening or offensive content in your feeds and comments. With business confidence at record lows, you want to protect your audience and reputation from fraud, scam accounts, phishing, and spam.
Here is a quick demo so you can see it in action.
Manage conversations and mentions across all your platforms from one dashboard. Use the Saved Responses feature to quickly and consistently handle common interactions.
You can also integrate your favorite CRM platform (like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics 365) to direct inbound leads for your sales team.
By creating a custom chatbot, you can improve the KPIs for customer support, such as: B. Response times and customer satisfaction.
Your sales team can also use Chatfuel's bots to segment your customer personalities or run drip campaigns, as well as accept payments within the Facebook Messenger app.
AdEspresso's social advertising tool
Save money and time with this ad optimization tool. It tests the effectiveness of your ads before you leave your money behind and also makes sure you're targeting the right audiences with the right metrics for maximum ROI.
Automated, customized social media reports measure your content's performance as often as you want, giving you real-time updates and general overviews for quarterly or annual reviews.
Pro tip: Having solid data on hand can unleash your creativity. When you have evidence of what works for your brand, the fear of failure becomes a little less scary.
Social listening and monitoring can be time consuming without the right tools. Analyze what your target audience and industry are talking about to identify trends and risks and make better marketing decisions.
Save time on social media with Hootsuite. Plan and schedule content, respond to comments and @mentions, serve ads, and measure performance from a single dashboard. Try it for free today.
Easily manage all of your social media in one place and Save time with Hootsuite.