Just because there are social media automation tools, doesn’t mean you should use them. Is there a good use for them? Yes. But use of an automation tool does not give you a perpetual excused absence from your social media accounts.
Why put a barrier between yourself and your network???
Think about it this way: If you’re looking for a way to not have to deal with social media, what does that say to the people in your network? Are they worth your time and attention or not? I’m not scolding, but rather I’m trying to underscore the reason for participating in the first place: to get people to know, like and trust you. You can’t develop a relationship if you’re not present.
Or think of it another way: if you’re not interested in what is being said by the people you are following, are you following the right people?
I’m pulling out my soapbox now…B2B marketing is not a numbers game; it’s a relationship game. Your products are, for the most part, complex and pricey (not an impulse buy) – and from what solution providers have told me, most of the time they win the deal because the prospect believes in them.
If you populate your networks with the right people, it’s a little like mingling at a reception. There’s small talk. There’s shop talk. There’s state of the industry talk. There’s relationship building.
Step 6 – Automate your broadcast, spend real time interacting with your network.
Use automation tools judiciously.
Don’t launch your social media accounts with the idea of using automation tools from the start. Spend some time with your accounts first. Observe what others are doing and talking about, the frequency in which they post.
Boiled down to three words: Know Your Network
Really know your network before you employ an automation tool. Used too early, or used exclusively, automation tools eliminate the benefit of social media.
Automation tools come in handy when scheduling your tweets as well as for managing multiple accounts.
I like to schedule my tweets so that I know they will go out each day, this allows me to spend my time online each day focusing on my network. First thing in the morning, sometimes between phone calls, and in the evening, I can take a look at my streams and:
- Thank people who have commented or retweeted my updates
- See what people are talking about
- Retweet interesting information posted by my network
- Look for new people to follow
- See what my competitors are doing (or not doing)
I do this through Hootsuite (hootsuite.com). Hootsuite provides a dashboard of multiple columns. You could have a column for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You could have a column for a keyword such as #ERP, #CRM, #Nonprofit. If you have created lists in Twitter for media contacts, customer contacts, industry contacts – you could set up a column for each contact type – which I find very helpful.
Hootsuite provides a scheduling feature. You can manually enter in a tweet and schedule that tweet for a particular day and time. Hootsuite has limited settings: you can schedule for 5:05, 5:10, 5:15, 5:20, etc., but you can’t schedule for 5:01 or 5:22.
Hootsuite also has an automated scheduling feature that will select a time and date for you based the history of your tweets, selecting days and times that have performed well for you in the past. Obviously if you have time sensitive information to share, you would not use this feature.
Hootsuite has both free and paid levels of service. Most people will find the free version provides more than enough functionality.
Bufferapp.com scheduler and analytics
Another tool that I have used (and many of my colleagues use and love) is Buffer (bufferapp.com). There is a free version of buffer and a paid version. In setting up your buffer account, you pick the times that your updates will post:
You may also connect to several social media accounts:
The best feature of bufferapp is tweet by tweet analytics. Not only will you know how many clicks and retweets you received – it will calculate the potential additional reach you have when presented to the followers of the person retweeting:
So you see, I am not totally against automation tools. I’m just totally against using automation tools to ignore your social networks. If you’re following the right people, you’ll enjoy the time you spend on social media.