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Why We Do Both Live and Automated Social Media – Here’s Why #64

Usually using two different tools to do one job is not a good idea. But in this episode of Here’s Why, we’re going to show you why we use two different ways of doing social media to get more bang for our buck.

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Eric: Mark, let’s start out with your philosophy on social media automation. As the marketing director of Perficient Digital, how do you approach automation?
Mark: Well Eric, that’s a great place to start, because I’ve seen that there are a lot of passionate opinions out there on either side of the automation debate in social media marketing. Now, some are fine with automating all their social media. They usually cite time and resources as the reasons. Others argue vehemently that automation has no place whatsoever in social media marketing, that social media is all about authenticity and engagement, and automation kills that.
Eric: So where do you fall in that debate?
Mark: Well, I see the points of both sides. But I found that the smartest and most effective social media marketing makes use of both live posting with engagement and smart automation.
Eric: So why is that?
Mark: Well, I think each has its place. Let’s start with live posting and engagement.
I hope anyone seriously involved in social media marketing understands the value of genuine engagement with their following. Now, people tend to think of brands as faceless entities, robots with no personality. So getting a response from a brand social account is disruptive, it’s surprising, and it makes or reinforces a connection between the social media user and that brand.
Now, I fly JetBlue regularly to our headquarters here outside of Boston. And when I do, I love to tweet at them, because I know I’ll always get a response. Unlike some other airlines, I find myself engaging with them about more than a complaint or a service request. Like here’s a recent tweet I sent out after returning home from a conference on another airline.
jetblue tweet1
Notice the cheerful, very warm, and human response from JetBlue:
jetblue tweet2
JetBlue works hard to build their brand around a kind of a laid back, enjoyable human experience. Whether it’s the free TV, the above-average-width coach seats, or their funky blue chips, they’re trying to make air travel more human in an era where most of us see flights as necessary evils. And their social media supports that.
Now, JetBlue has to have 24-hour real-time monitoring of their social media channels, because customers expect to get customer service there. But I love how they also use it to humanize their brand. It isn’t necessary for every business to be as real-time as they are, of course. But we all should be monitoring and responding to our following, whenever we can.
Eric: But what about the automation side? Doesn’t that turn us into an inhuman robot? I mean, doesn’t it negate the benefits of live social media?
Mark: Well, not necessarily. I mean, first off, automation can help with the kind of engagement I spoke about before if we don’t have the time or resources to be on 24 hours. Now, if you’re customers expect customer service via social media, then that’s different. Like JetBlue, you’re going to have to hire people to be monitoring real-time, right? But most businesses don’t need that. You and I can’t be on social media 24/7, but we both take moments, right, throughout the day when we check the notifications on our main social channels. That’s not really automation, but it’s not real-time either.
But in our case, there doesn’t seem to be a need for an instant response. I mean, as long as there is a response. We can cause the same delight to a follower, even if we respond hours later, just because we responded. Now we also use some tools that monitor social media from mentions of our brand’s names, both company and our personals, right? So that kind of automation helps us to be more responsive, especially in cases where someone may not have directly pinged us.
Eric: So what about automated posting, though?
Mark: That’s usually where the debate kicks in. Now, some businesses still fear that any automated posting looks spammy and will tick off their followers. But, in my experience, that just isn’t the case. The reality is that most active social users these days follow a lot of accounts, and posts go by pretty quickly in their streams. They aren’t looking at those streams all day. So a good deal of the content posted, they never see.
Now, if you re-post your best evergreen content on a regular basis, you’re increasing the chances that more of your followers will see it. And many of them will be seeing it for the first time, no matter how many times you post it.
Here’s a graph of social media traffic to one of our evergreen blog articles that we re-share on a regular schedule.
retweet graph
Now, it doesn’t hit every time we share it. But each of those peaks, with an arrow pointing to it, is another time the post got almost as much traffic as it did when we first shared it. Now, if we’ve only shared it once, we would have missed out on all that traffic.
Eric: So how do you manage that automated re-posting?
Mark: Well, first, we maintain a listing of all our best performing evergreen content. I review that list at least once a month, dropping off content that no is longer relevant or valuable and adding in newer content. Then a member of our marketing team regularly feeds those posts into Buffer. We have Buffer network set for different frequencies of posting that work well on each network. Of course, in between those automated posts, we’re always doing live posting and engagement as well.
Eric: So does automated posting like that work for any social network?
Mark: Well, it works differently for different networks. We found that we can share more often to Twitter, because tweets disappear very rapidly from people’s streams, right? But on the other hand, I’m cutting our automated sharing to Facebook to a minimum, because I see that automated posts get fewer impressions and very little engagement there. So we’re going to have to invest more in manual posting on Facebook. It’s just a matter of looking at each of your networks and evaluating what’s really happening there.
Eric: Thanks, Mark, for those tips. You can get a more in-depth look at how Mark uses social media automation for Perficient Digital at his Marketing Land column.
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Thoughts on “Why We Do Both Live and Automated Social Media – Here’s Why #64”

  1. This video hits in on the head. It almost impossible to have an active presence on social media without some type of automation. BUT you need to interact and engage in real-time. That’s where the social of social media comes in.

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Mark Traphagen

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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