Despite the bad name it got in its early days, I think social media automation has come a long way and I don’t think there is anything wrong with some of the functions that fall under the umbrella of “automated”.
I use both Buffer and CoSchedule as tools for managing the content I send out on social channels, and to craft the message I am going to use to share the content I create. This kind of automation is OK.
Where it goes wrong, however, is when it’s used as an engagement tool. Automated replies on Twitter are nothing new, and have long been a pain point because they take away from the legitimacy of the connection you’ve just created.
You can’t automate gratitude. I consider giving thanks where you can to be one of the core tenets of Twitter citizenship. Pinging me a direct message within 10 minutes of following you to thank me for with a link to your white paper doesn’t say “thanks for following”.
Suggesting that we connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, <insert other network here> as part of that message? You’re losing me even further.
Take the time to write a tweet to say thanks. I try to make the time for it as much as I can – new connections, favourites, retweets. Every one of these interactions people have with me or my content helps me build my profile as a trustworthy source of information. Even if it’s collectively thanking people, take the time.
Many analytics platforms now offer the automation of this process with the addition of a link back to the platform – essentially making them a marketing message.
SumAll and Crowdfire are two of the bigger offenders. I use Crowdfire for some functions, specifically their inactive accounts analysis, but the lesson here is that you should use the functionality to understand your audience, not interact with it.
One of the first functions you are presented with on signing up with SumAll is the option to tweet your stats each week (incidentally, no one cares), and thanking your top followers weekly – both of which are selected by default.
CrowdFire’s is also an onboarding function and then keeps automation as a menu option, allowing you to add multiple DM styles, but randomly selecting one that gets sent and appending it with branding.
Just as our privacy can be the price we pay to use platforms like Facebook and Twitter for free, so too free tools to manage them have a price, often in the form of promoting on their behalf. You can automate social media to make it easy in many ways, but engaging with people who engage with you shouldn’t be one of them.
PHOTO – Ian Britton via Flickr