These days, every business must maintain a consistent social media presence. However, it requires a lot of time and dedication to manage social media accounts manually. But thanks to social automation tools, businesses can keep their profiles updated with fresh content without spending hours on social channels.
In fact, research shows that marketers who automate social posts and ads can save more than six hours per week.
While social media automation can save brands time in their busy schedules, overdoing it can make them seem impersonal. By adopting a "set it and forget it" approach, companies risk alienating their customers. If a company tweets 10 times per day but never answers customer questions, this will certainly alienate the target market. Customers see social media as a place to interact with brands, and while social media can help, there needs to be personal elements as well.
Here's how companies can use social media automation without losing their personal touch and putting off customers.
Just because businesses use social media automation doesn't mean they should neglect to respond to comments and messages from their customers. Companies should reply as soon as possible when there is any interaction. If they wait too long, customers are likely to forget about them.
Failing to respond to customers on social media can also cause businesses to miss out on revenue. A study by Twitter shows that customers who get a response from a brand on the social network are willing to spend up to 20% more and are 30% more likely to recommend that brand.
It's important to remember that there's no replacement for authentic human interaction – the technology is getting there, but we have a ways to go. As a rule of thumb, businesses should be quick to respond to their customers and should never automate any communication between the two. This includes automatic replies and direct messages.
If a message comes through after hours, then this is an example of when it is acceptable to send an automated message. Explaining that all questions will be answered between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. (EST) is acceptable, and lets the customer know when to expect a response.
Other companies use automated messages to answer frequently asked questions. Certain chatbots allow brands to choose specific questions such as store hours, directions, etc. so if a customer just wants that information, it makes it easy to find. However, always allow options to speak with someone or get a more detailed question answered. While automation helps, some customers might have specific questions they want to be addressed.
Customize post captions
When automating social media content, businesses shouldn't ignore their captions. Writing engaging captions helps brands engage with customers in numerous ways.
Businesses can provide their opinion or ask for feedback from their audience in their captions, adding value to their content. They can also drive their audience to do something by including a call to action in their captions. Additionally, custom captions give brands a voice and help them stand out from their competitors by adding a personal touch to their content. Make copy timely to showcase a personal touch. While this is not always feasible, customers appreciate content linked to current events. That being said, we always advise staying away from hot button issues.
Brands can also customize replies to those who message them. Instead of sending the same "Thank you for messaging us" response to everyone, try to add brand personality to responses. Some companies try to use humor when replying, which is not always applicable, especially for B2B brands, but it helps show customers that not all responses are canned and formulaic.
Brands shouldn't underestimate the power of a thoughtful social media caption.
Participate in conversations
It can be easy to forget to engage in personal conversations when automating social media posts; however, it’s essential to monitor the discussion and participate in it.
In addition to answering questions, businesses should add their thoughts to conversations and demonstrate their expertise. This can help them build a stronger relationship with customers and increase brand loyalty. For example, instead of just clicking a button and retweeting a tweet, add a customized response or opinion. Try to go beyond the "great article" or a generic response and add in a sentence or two on why followers should read the article. What value will they get from it?
While retweets, likes, favorites, etc., are all important, adding a bit of customization will go a long way. Businesses should also be sure to engage in social conversation in a timely manner to stay relevant. No need to comment on a post from months ago; instead, focus on posts from today.
Tailor posts to each channel
Businesses automating social media content should focus on the platforms where their audience is most active. It's important to remember that each social platform has different rules, tones and styles, so businesses must take the time to write posts specifically for each channel.
For example, the most popular social platforms for real estate agents are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Using a social media automation tool, they can craft custom posts ahead of time to connect with clients on each network.
Twitter, for instance, has a character limit businesses must follow, which means posts should be short and sweet. It's also a great place to share breaking news and thought leadership content. Facebook, on the other hand, allows more room for detailed posts, and users prefer posts featuring images and videos. And when scheduling posts to LinkedIn, businesses should keep in mind that posts with infographics, articles and videos are popular on this channel.
When brands really seem spammy is if they use hashtags on platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn. This clearly shows that the company simply copied and pasted a post without bothering to customize it to the channel. While businesses can automate and share the same content on all social networks, they must vary it a little for each platform. Otherwise, they risk their audience scrolling past their content.
Add timely posts
Businesses often make the mistake of automating all of their social media posts. When they do this, it can appear obvious, and their audiences will likely be able to tell that all of their content is automated. Instead, businesses should augment scheduled content with timely posts.
Brands should be flexible when automating social content so they can add in last-minute updates or posts if anything new arises. Posting live allows brands to add their voice to relevant trends or breaking news.
It's crucial not to overdo it with automated posts, or schedule content too far in advance. Businesses should schedule their posts about a week out to stay relevant and allow themselves to post non-automated, timely content.
Businesses can use social media automation without sounding too impersonal and alienating customers. The key to successfully automating social content is all about striking the right balance. Automation makes it easy to have an active role on numerous social media channels, but customers still want a personalized approach. By catering posts to specific channels, being responsive, customizing captions, and adding in timely posts, businesses can connect with their customers better and build stronger relationships with them.