3 reasons automating social media is risky

Scheduling social media posts can save time, but you need to be smart about it. Know these risks before you add any more posts to your automated queue.

According to Gleanster, 84 percent of top companies either automate their social media efforts or are considering doing so in the near future.

With numbers like that, it’s hard to imagine why you wouldn’t want to schedule your tweets, Facebook updates, etc. But doing so can be risky.

Let’s examine what you stand to lose by automating your social media updates. I’m not saying you shouldn’t automate, but before you go all out, it’s crucial you understand what you’re getting yourself into.

What could go wrong?

While there are some strong reasons to start scheduling posts, there are some potential bumps in the road. Here are the main ones:

1. You may miss out on more pertinent, timely information.

The beauty of sites like Twitter is that you can share news faster than ever. But that can be a negative thing, as well. Fresh news becomes old news, and gets buried in fast-moving timelines.

You have to be on the ball, and ready to share new information at a moment’s notice. The problem is if you schedule tweets at the beginning of the week, you’ll miss out on everything that happens throughout the week.

Was there an industry announcement on Thursday? Well, you won’t talk about it until Monday, and your customers may move on by then. Worse yet, they may think you’re not on the cutting edge. Is that how you want people to perceive you? To be on top of the latest news, you have to be involved.

2. Should a tragedy occur, you risk coming off as insensitive.

The media feeds on tragedy. Think about it: How much of reported news is positive? Most of it is negative. If something bad happens, your customers will know about it.

What happens when one of these tragedies directly conflicts with a social media post that you scheduled? What if you forget all about the scheduled post and it runs?

Imagine, God forbid, there’s another school shooting. Imagine that directly following initial reports of the shooting, you run an update that seems insensitive. You know, something harmless that appears in the wrong place at the wrong time.

You can’t take back the post once it’s out there. Even if you delete it, you better believe people have taken screenshots and shared it.

3. Automated feeds don’t always seem real.

I follow a few people on Twitter who obviously schedule posts. How do I know?

  • They tweet too often.
  • They tweet at odd hours.
  • Nothing seems personal.

It often looks like a bot is running automated tweets. As a result, your social media accounts cease to seem real. People can’t connect because they won’t feel anything for a robot.

Are the risks worth it?

The good news is you can mitigate all of the above risks with careful planning. Here’s what you have to do:

  • Plan carefully: You can’t afford to “mail it in” when you schedule posts. You need to think things through before you schedule anything.
  • Monitor: Check in with your scheduled shares. You can always intervene to make sure you don’t send the wrong message at the wrong time. In other words, opt for incomplete automation as opposed to complete automation.
  • Stay involved: Just because you schedule posts doesn’t mean you can’t stay involved. Use automated posts as your foundation, then monitor news, comment and share things in a timely manner.

Do you automate your social media updates? What’s your process?

Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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