There is a battle waging in social media against automation.
On one side, there’s the crowd I have dubbed “engagement purists” who believe every single social media interaction should be done in real time. No rules, no automatic messages, no bots. You either post as a real person in the now, or you don’t post at all.
On the other side, automation thrives with a vengeance by “automation addicts.” These folks use apps and programs for one-and-done social media posts, auto DMs, and an endless stream of sales pitches going out to any new followers.
Use an ounce of automation.
Of course, there is much space between the two polar opposites in this fray. In the space between purists and addicts, there live the “happy hybrids.”
We believe a little automation can go a long way. We know the ill effects of too much automation, yet we also realize our limitations as single, unique individuals who only have the standard 24-hour day (some of which must be used for catching some shut-eye).
When used effectively, an ounce of automation can lead to a pound of engagement.
Let me paint you a picture to describe what I mean…
Imagine your last (or next) networking event or party. When you encounter someone you don’t know, do you find yourself using the same introductory words and phrases?
Hi, I’m Rachel. How are you?
It’s great to meet you. How did you hear about this event?
Nice to meet a fellow business pro! What’s your specialty?
What’s wrong with this approach? Not one darn thing. We all have our go-to introductions when we first meet someone in real life. Why would it be different on social media? In these tools which are hailed as true engagement and relationship tools for marketing and communication, real world methods of communication can be implemented within each platform’s unique parameters. Think of it as the difference between a handshake (Facebook) and a business card (LinkedIn).
That said, there are ways to use and abuse automation in digital communication.
How to use automation effectively:
- Follow up any automation with real engagement. A real person needs to be part of the process, preferably most of it. Even if an automated post or email gets the ball rolling, insert a live pulse into the conversation as soon as you can.
- Respond to every inbound message. Every single one. You can’t automate custom follow-up with your audience, nor should you. Once a follower makes the choice to engage with you, reward that intent with respect by engaging in kind.
- Customize any automated efforts to each platform, each audience. Show that you really do care by tracking your followers’ interests, likes, and dislikes on any platform you use to engage.
How to abuse automation detrimentally:
- Send the exact same message to every single person, every single time. Ignore the uniqueness of each follower through laziness and self-importance by delivering the same verbatim thought to each one.
- Ignore messages and fail to respond to followers or friends. If you wish to alienate friends as well as followers, simply pretend incoming messages and questions are of no value.
- Leave the automation on when the world goes off the rails. In times of crisis and tragedy, keep your automated posts of “buy this” or “click that” going while virtually everyone else is focused on helping their fellow humans.
What do you think? Are you an automation purist, believer, or a hybrid of the two?
— Rachel Moore (@Rachel_Really) April 27, 2016