Social media is about engagement, not automation

Social media is a unique and relatively new phenomenon, so it’s changing every single day. But more and more I’m seeing ads for services that claim to automate as much of your social media duties as possible. If you’re automating, you’re missing the point of social media and it won’t help you meet your goals.

Social media is about authentic communication and engagement. You can personally connect with just about anyone, anywhere in the world. Your business can engage and communicate with customers and your interaction with people can turn them into loyal fans. You cannot do that simply by loading a bunch of Facebook posts and tweets into an automation or scheduling program and pushing them out into the universe.

social media automation

You can’t automate a response to, “Hey, it was great to meet with you yesterday, how can we work together soon?” You can’t schedule an answer to, “My product arrived broken and with missing pieces, how can you fix this?” You CAN count on a whole lot of bad will when your completely unrelated scheduled tweets and updates pop up in people’s social media streams during major events (like we saw during the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary shootings and the Boston Marathon bombings). That feels inappropriate, you’re not the information people are looking for on social media at that time and it proves you’re not paying attention.

So pay attention. We all have important content we want to get out and (hopefully) no one is online and available via social media 24 hours a day. The best way to post your content to social media is to schedule it on your own calendar and do it manually. If you’re automatically pushing out content, do so very sparingly and remember you’ve done it. If major events are happening, don’t let that scheduled content go out — if it goes out, you’re going to get slack for it and you’ll look tone-deaf. People will forgive it once or twice, but they become annoyed at repeat offenders.

If you’re a business, set expectations for your “hours of engagement” in your bio (i.e. “Tweeting 9 am - 5 pm Central, M-F”) so people know they’re unlikely to get a response off hours. Then engage, don’t automate. Social media is just that … social. If you can’t engage, perhaps social media isn’t the space for you.