There is an age old debate in the world of social media: is automation a blessing or a virus that kills every good platform’s engagement?

Now, it could be thought that given we have automation features in our software for users to access, we probably have a biased opinion. Well, if we’re honest, we are biased. We have created what we believe to be a really clever, un-spamming use of automation in social media and believe that our solution is useful to marketers everywhere.

In saying that, we think that there a huge number of cases for automation that are jeopardising the ability for brands to properly engage with their social media communities. Find below a list of our GOOD and BAD use cases for automation.

 

GOOD

Automation of Content Publishing

There is plenty of room to get this wrong, but with a social media team who can manage automation and ensure that bad taste posts are removed based on current affairs from automated queues, then this use case for automation is really beneficial for brands.

Many pieces of content that brands create are worth promoting more than once on social media. When you’re spending more than a few hours on a piece of content to be promoted to only 2% of your audience (the amount of people that you are likely to reach on Facebook for one post without ad budget), you really should be looking at recycling this content. Repurposing this content for a couple of different platforms, media formats, and ensuring that you are posting this content over time, ensures that as much of your audience as possible gets the chance to see it.

Knackmap’s automation tool allows you to create queues of content to be published through your social media channels, so that you can be sure your key content is seen by your audience!

Automation of Customer Support

With the rise of messenger bots, I believe that there is a unique opportunity for brands to drive customers to where they need to go super fast. One thing that customers hate the most is the wait time to get their issues resolved. Facebook Messenger APIs are being used by support centres to find out more about customer issues, prime them for a positive conversation and then send over all the information to a customer support person to handle the enquiry. For the customer, they are being sent easily through the process of getting to the right person and don’t have to re-explain themselves to 5 people before getting to who is actually going to help them.

Facebook Messenger APIs have potential for more than just support, with companies using the automation opportunity to help people book flights, order meals and more.

It’s putting the power back in the customer’s hands.

 

BAD

Automating Engagement

Yes, this seems to be a sore point for many users, social media marketers and community managers.

Automating Engagement is most likely already in your community – it probably stands out to you, as a community manager, like a bad smell. Not only does it fudge your numbers by making it seem like you have more engagement than you actually have, but it also makes it harder to sift through and find the genuine interest or concern.

Note: I’m not just talking about bots to get more followers, I’m talking about bots to like people’s posts, comment on their posts and direct message people!

There is a great little rant written by James McManus about whether using bots on Instagram is worthwhile, in which he sums it up nicely by saying “Acting like a bot attracts bots”. In other words, the more you operate like a bot in community growth and engagement, the more likely you yourself are going to get a vague and unengaged group of robots commenting nothing valuable on your posts. Sure, it’s looks nice from a numbers perspective to potential followers, but that’s quickly drowned out by the bot influx.

In an article by Bob Hutchins he describes his negative thoughts on Instagram Automation, which is another good read.

Automating Influencer Outreach

Look, the thing is that even though we are by no means “Influencers” here (when compared to the Gary Vee’s, or anyone speaking at Social Media Examiner Events or other global events), we would still overlook any automated outreach.

Vague outreach with vague intentions and reference to “a recent article I may have written about [insert keyword]” are never going to win the hearts of your desired influencers, thought-leaders or disrupters.

Instead of shooting off 1,000 bullets expecting to hit a target once, aim for a 1 in 5 approach and take the time to really think about how you and your desired influencer are going to mutually benefit from your request.

Automation can’t build relationships, and it certainly can’t sell for you.

In the words of Jay Baer, “Activate your fans, don’t just collect them like baseball cards.” I’d stick with this rationale for influencers too.

 

Do you have anything else that you think could and should be automated, or anything that’s off limits? Let us know in the comments below!

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