In order to cultivate a large and profitable social media following, your brand will need to make use of automation tools like Hootsuite or Buffer in order to put out the right kind of relevant content at the right time.
But what happens when those helpful apps become reasons for followers to distance themselves from your brand?
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When a brand relies solely on automated content to prop up their social media handles, things can get a little stale. Your followers will begin to see your social media presence as a lifeless marketing machine, rather than as the social extension of your brand.
And in a world where personalization colors marketing at every turn, you can’t risk appearing robotic and monotonous.
Here’s how to strike a balance between automation and the human element for maximum results.
Automate in Moderation
The whole point of automation is to, well, automate. But that doesn’t mean you should be automating at every opportunity.
The 50-30-20 rule is one that’s respected by many brands.
- 50% of your social media posts should be content from others, relevant to your audience
- 30% should be content from you, relevant to your audience—and not a sales pitch
- 20% should be personal, non-work related content that helps humanize you and/or your brand
So, set your app to post in line with the 50-30-20 rule, between 3-5 times a day. Any more than that, and you’re practically asking to be unfollowed or unliked.
In addition, be sure to make full use of the 24 hours in a day. You may initially think that setting an automated post for 3am is wasteful, but while you sleep, the other side of the world is busy browsing social media.
So schedule your automation apps to perform their job at set times throughout the day, but be sure to fill the gaps with human driven interactions, questions, and perhaps even some light banter.
To perfect the automation process, you may also wish to consider limiting how far ahead you schedule posts. Scheduling your automated posts weekly, instead of monthly,will make sure that your content stays as relevant as possible.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to hit the pause button on all your automated posts in order to focus on a major event or trend. You can always un-pause at a later date.
Optimize Your Automation
Each social media automation app allows you to schedule times, dates, and messages for your automated posts.
Don’t waste your automated posts by simply copy and pasting your blog post title followed by a URL. Instead, optimize your post right there in your automation app.
Make use of images, videos, hashtags, mention relevant brands or people, and shorten your URLs to tidy things up. Plus, take heed of my previous advice and space out your automation throughout the day.
All of these things will optimize your posts for maximum reach and maximum engagement.
But more importantly, it will make even your automated posts seem as though they were posted by an actual, flesh-and-blood person. All you need to do is spend a little more time when it comes to scheduling your automated content.
To humanise your automated posts further, consider mixing it up with content that is designed to inspire or spark conversation, rather than entice people to your website.
For example, a relevant quote from a respected industry leader, with no URLs to external content, is always a welcome alternative. It’s just a good old fashioned social media message, automated.
Share Your Accounts With Trusted Staff
A single voice broadcasted across your social media handles can become monotonous. Variety is a good thing.
Don’t be afraid to hand over passwords to trusted staff members, so that they too can get involved with the community.
Not only will this give your brand a more diverse, engaging personal over social media, it will also mean that you will have more help to answer the inevitable queries, clarifications, and questions quicker, thanks to the extra hands on deck.
Some brands prefer for each staff member to sign off with their initials or names at the end of every post. This lends a more personal touch, and helps your audience develop a sense of familiarity with each member of staff individually through your brand’s handle, and also to create a sense of accountability for staff members using the account.
To stay on top of things, make sure that you and your staff have smartphone notifications turned on for the social media apps in question.
Having staff members post ever so often is all well and good, but it’s of little to no use if nobody is notified when a follower reaches out to ask a question on Twitter, for instance. Turn on those notifications to stay in the loop and offer timely help and advice.
Participate In Trending Discussions
Social media is all about what’s trending. If your social media posts are carrying the right keywords and hashtags, they’re more likely to be seen.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, for example, have excellent search functions which enable you to see what’s trending in the form of hashtags.
Some hashtags are temporarily popular, or even seasonal, and thus they come and go. For example, #InternationalCoffeeDay would become a popular trend for that particular day. Be sure to stay updated on such trends, and more importantly, be sure to take part.
Captioned images, humorous wisecracks, and general observations work well with such trends. Also, it’s a good idea to simply reach out and comment on existing posts carrying the trend forward.
Longer lasting trends will usually revolve around subjects that people never really stop talking about. #WebDesign, for example, is a trend which will always thrive. Find such a hashtag that aligns with your industry, and be sure to include it in your social media posts as much as possible.
Taking advantage of existing trends is highly recommended, but how about starting your own trend?
If your brand’s following is large enough, think about starting a hashtag to promote or discuss your product or service. Starting your own trend also works wonders for when your company is organising an event or giveaway.
Engage & Respond
There’s nothing more frustrating than reaching out for customer support, only for a brand to delay their response - or to not respond at all.
Social media is designed to bring you closer to your audience, so don’t assume that you can take the same time to respond to a tweet as you would to an email.
Instead, do your best to be constantly on hand to respond to queries and engage with your audience. They expect you to respond fairly quickly, so don’t disappoint them.
As previously mentioned, getting more staff members involved would make responding to questions a lot faster. On the other hand, ensuring that all your social media handles are linked to your smartphone will make responding to your audience that much easier.
Automation junkies, take note. It’s important to never automate customer interactions on any social media platform.
Auto-responding or auto-engaging can have detrimental effects. No customer wants to have their query or comment brushed aside by an automated response. They want to feel like somebody associated with the brand has acknowledged their input.
Similarly, auto-retweeting or auto-liking posts can be disastrous, particularly if something inappropriate is posted.
Nothing says I’m a human like creativity does.
Partaking in trends, responding to questions and posting links to your blog content is one way of going about entertaining your audience - but it’s a method that gets old, fast.
In order to truly humanize your brand, you need to be creative.
Get working on inventive images and videos showcasing your products or services. Run quizzes. Live-tweet relevant events. Host a giveaway. Do something out of the ordinary, or risk blending in with the crowd.
To personalise your social media presence a little more, consider linking your brand’s social activities with customers elsewhere within your reach.
Tell your email subscribers about giveaways on your social media handles, or put up a sign on your shop floor. You get the picture.
Don’t be too Human
By all means, apply your human touch - but ensure it isn’t overdone.
Giving your brand a personality on social media means following the advice outlined above, but one must always be aware of the red line of professionalism.
In a world of memes and trolling, social media is ripe with offensive language, suggestive images, and other uber-casual behavior. Thus, it’s important to know when to respond, and when to hit the block button.
This control over your brand’s human presence should also govern the material being shared in the first place. Steer clear of divisive subjects, avoid profanities, and keep it totally clean. You’re a growing brand, after all.
Also, remember the 50-30-20 rule, and stick to making only 20% of your social media posts personal or casual.
Even if your casual posts are professional in nature, too much of them will alienate your followers. So, focus more on the stuff that will directly benefit and interest your fan base.
Over To You
If you can blend the tips above into your daily social media routine, you’ll soon notice that your automated posts become more of a hit, simply because they’re supplementing your existing social media activity.
On the other hand, if you allow your automated posts to reach the forefront of your social media presence, you’ll more than likely see your audience ignore you or, worse yet, unfollow you.
It’s all about the human touch.
Stay tuned for more tips and tricks related to navigating the evolving world of social media marketing.