By Colleen Walton, Marketing Strategist, Brand Acceleration, Inc.
*Note: For the sake of brevity, this article uses the word “post” to refer to anything you share on social media. These rules are not specific to any one platform.
When I spoke at the Ohio Economic Development Association‘s Annual Summit in October, I talked about social media automation – using a service like dlvr.it or Hootsuite to schedule your social media posts. For anyone who wants to implement a true social media calendar, it can be an amazing asset because allows you to post even when you’re not at your computer.
A member of the audience raised his hand and asked, “Doesn’t using an automation service come across as a bit… impersonal?” He feared his followers would be able to tell that he was auto-posting and they’d disengage from his content. It’s a valid concern, but there are a few ways to circumnavigate it:
Actively engage with your audience.
Social media platforms reward people who interact with the physical site. Users who regularly like and comment on posts, share other peoples’ posts, and utilize new features are often rewarded with better placement in search results and more frequent appearances in their followers’ feeds. Since automation means you aren’t using the physical site to post content, you need to make up for it by engaging with your audience in real time.
Post both scheduled and unscheduled content.
When Amazon released its shortlist for HQ2, it’s all anyone was talking about. People were sharing articles, commenting on posts, and giving their two cents on the list. If you put your thoughts in a scheduled post, you missed the boat. When something big happens, get on social media and get in on the conversation. You don’t have to put it in a scheduler and wait.
You can also share content from events and conferences. Post photos of yourself and your industry partners, tag conference speakers, and use event hashtags. You can mix these one-off unscheduled posts with your scheduled content.
Customize content for each platform.
Honestly, Twitter is the one that throws a wrench into things. It has a character limit and uses @handles that LinkedIn and Facebook don’t. If you create a post using Twitter’s format and share it on multiple platforms, people will know it’s automated. Instead, create two automated posts – one for Twitter and one for other platforms. They can have the same content as the non-Twitter posts, but should have the @handles removed. This reduces the appearance of automation and shows that the content was customized for the platform on which it’s being viewed.
Automation is a great way to create and stick to a content calendar for your social media, but it needs to be done properly. By simultaneously scheduling content and actively engaging with your audience, you can minimize the appearance of detachment while helping improve your social media presence.
Oh, and if you do decide to use an automation service, make sure someone can turn it off if you die suddenly. No one wants to see your tweets from the Great Beyond. It’s creepy.