Automate your social media accounts wisely with these tools

You can manage your online networks without succumbing to the bot overlords—and alienating fans and followers in the process. Try these on for size.

A staggering 74 percent of Internet-using adults are active on at least one social media network. With more than 3 billion users online, that’s almost 2 billion social network users.

The daily volume of traffic on social media sites makes it daunting to manage multiple social profiles manually.

Social media automation addresses this challenge beautifully. Though skeptics fear automation can cause your social profiles to appear less human, the impression you make depends on how you use automation.

Ideally, you should automate most of your content sharing and participate in online conversations directly.

The advantages of engaging in real time with an online audience include a better brand image, which essentially drives up revenue. Here are some tips for getting automation right:

Review everything you share.

Automating content aggregation saves you a ton of time you’d otherwise spend on Google. However, auto-scheduling content without reviewing it could turn out to be a terrible blunder.

Sure, it’s convenient to push out one post after another without really checking the content, but you risk sharing inferior or uninteresting/irrelevant content.

Balance automated posts with real-time updates.

The point of being on social media is to genuinely connect with people. If you’re going to rely on a computer algorithm to do the talking for you, be prepared to see depressingly low engagement on your social media profiles.

Mixing automated posts with real-time updates will help you stay true to your social media marketing goals and will open up opportunities to reach out to your target audience.

Be sensitive to real-world events.

One reason some social media managers balk at using automation is that it can lead to “foot-in-mouth” situations, as it did in the case of the National Rifle Association.

In 2012, the NRA sent out a tweet that read “Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” That was a relatively innocent tweet they’d scheduled, because there was no way for them to know the mass shootings in Aurora would happen the same morning.

To avoid such situations, always revisit your scheduled updates in times of public tragedy just to double-check that your posts aren’t inappropriate.

Don’t automate replies and DMs.

Using a bot to reply on your behalf is perhaps the quickest way for your brand to get lambasted on social media. Several companies have learned this the hard way, including American Airlines and Bank of America.

Automated responses, particularly on Twitter, are quite common, though not always accurate. Every conversation has a context, and clearly bots don’t always get it right.

The only way you can save yourself the embarrassment of sending out irrelevant responses is by doing it manually.

Don’t post too often.

It’s wonderful how automation can keep your social media accounts up and running even when you’re away, but scheduling a slew of posts simply because you can isn’t really strategic thinking. In a survey of 900 social media users, 19 percent of the respondents said they would unfollow a brand on Facebook if it posted too often—and that reason for unfollowing was second only to posting repetitive/boring content.

If you’re just getting started with automation, here are some tools that work wonders:

1. DrumUp

A content discovery app, DrumUp gathers articles from online sources and mounts them onto a centralized dashboard. You can tailor your content recommendations by customizing the keywords.

The tool lets you schedule multiple posts for your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. It also lets you connect your blog feed to your social media accounts to make sure any new post you publish is automatically shared with your audience. (Disclosure: I write for the DrumUp Blog.)

2. Followerwonk

Followerwonk is a Twitter analytics tool. It analyzes your Twitter account to give you a host of useful insights that tell you how your Twitter marketing efforts are paying off.

You can get detailed accounts of how many followers you have, who they are, where in the world they live, how active they are on Twitter, how influential they are, how many new followers you have and a whole lot of other insights. You can even see how your Tweets have performed by analyzing retweets, comments and other factors.

3. IFTTT

If This Then That (IFTTT) is a simple but effective tool you can use to automate practically any social media task you can imagine. It creates an automated process and presents events and tasks in the form of simple cause-and-effect formulae, which you can customize according to your requirements.

You can then create your own automated processes, called “recipes,” or borrow other people’s recipes that have been made public. You can choose every last detail of the tasks, including their time and frequency.

4. TweetDeck

If you use Twitter as the primary platform for your social media marketing efforts, TweetDeck will prove invaluable. With TweetDeck, you can view all the aspects of your Twitter account that are important to you on a single screen.

You can customize what you view on the screen to monitor all the developments on your Twitter account. Recent trends, notifications, activities, and even your Twitter home screen can be added to the dashboard. The tool helps reduce the time and effort it takes to connect with your followers and influencers.

All the tools discussed in this post have varied functions. Try them out to see which ones fit your requirements, and instead of depending on a single tool to amplify your social media marketing efforts, consider using a combination that affords you a range of functionalities.

If you’ve tried any of these tools, please say which ones you like and why in the comments section.

Vasudha Veeranna works with DrumUp and likes to experiment with new tools that help social media marketers. A version of this article originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical.

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