Automation is a bit of a hot topic for people in the social media world. It is controversial for many because too many people are doing it all wrong. Social Media automation is simply the scheduling of tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates and G+ shares. If done right with a strategy behind it, you can grow your targeted followers list, increase engagement, and increase reach and exposure.
Automation is great because it guarantees your activity across a variety of social networks. It's beneficial because it keeps your name out there popping up on News Feeds even if isn't you posting at that specific moment. It is also beneficial to help grow your international audience because while you might be sleeping, the other part of the world is in the midst of their work day. I am a big fan of automation, but there are rules.
4 Rules Of Social Media Automation
1. Don't Be A Ghost
Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT schedule and run. This is what gives automation a bad name. Automation is the time saving aspect, but your actual follow up and engagement is crucial to building your name and credibility on social networks.
2. Use Your Saved Time For Engagement
With all the time you saved by scheduling your posts, use the other time for real engagement and relationship building. This means responding to other people's posts and most importantly responding to others when they are talking to you. I have tweeted relevant content in response to many "gurus" with 100s of thousands of followers who preach the benefits of social media, but in many cases get nothing in return. This is bad form. Don't do it!
3. Don't Overschedule
Scheduling is great but don't overdo it. I'd say 1 tweet per hour, or every other hour, is good. You will be able to tell how your followers react and whether you are gaining or losing followers. If you are rapidly losing followers, you are either not tweeting at the right audience, or tweeting way too much. If you are gaining a lot, you are probably doing something right.
4. Tweet Real-Time Stuff As Well
Automation should be a compliment to what you are already doing. If you find a good article that is very timely by all means share it. If you are loving your bowl of soup, share that. You should be human and real, not a machine.
My Favorite Tools
I have tested many different tools and these three are the ones I like.
Buffer is great for optimizing the time you tweet and setting up a schedule that works for you. I also like Buffer because it has pretty awesome and easy to view analytics so I know which tweets are working best, the engagement and reach for each tweet and how many clicks per tweet. If you have a social sharing button plugin, include Buffer as one of the options for sharing as well. Here are 10 things you can do with Buffer. http://blog.bufferapp.com/the-10-most-useful-buffer-features-for-a-more-powerful-social-media-presence
Hootsuite is great for the mass upload and mass scheduling. I use the auto schedule function on a regular basis and I like that you can monitor different accounts from this tool. Hootsuite is how I view Twitter from my computer and I use it all day long.
Looking for great content, BundlePost is where it's at. BundlePost allows you to take RSS feeds and keyword searches and put them into tweet form. You can select which articles you want to share, add hashtags and change titles at will. From there, you can download your selected articles and upload it directly to Hootsuite for mass scheduling. It's great to keep the content coming and saves a ton of time. I wrote about BundlePost here.
Which tools do you use? Do you have any automation rules you live by?