Social media automation tools and services are some of the biggest benefits of any online marketing strategy, but be sure you don’t take all of the personal engagement and traffic generation potential out of your posts by relying too heavily on this. Here are 5 things to watch out for regarding social media marketing automation.
Brent: Hi I’m Brent Haeseker, website consultant with NetSource Technologies and today I am talking with Jamie Embree, who is our Creative Director here at NetSource, and we’re going to talk about the five pitfalls of social media marketing and how to avoid them or what to watch out for when doing it. But before we get started, I’m going to let Jamie just tell a little bit about who she is and what she does here at NetSource.
Jamie: Hi, I am Jamie and I am the Creative Director at NetSource, I’ve been here, gosh, somewhere between fifteen and eighteen years. I work with both the web design and the social media and search engine teams for the overall approach toward online marketing.
Brent: Great, so first of all since we are talking about social media automation, tell us really quickly what that is for those that might not know what that is.
Jamie: Sure, social media automation is any collection of tools or services that allow you to automate. That might be scheduling, that might be auto-replies, anything that allows you to get it set up and then step away. There are tools like Hootsuite or Sprout and those are scheduling tools. They allow you to put your content in, put it on a calendar, and then it just posts those things for you to your various social accounts. Then you also have some service providers that also do some automated content, and we can talk about that a little later.
Brent: Well obviously since we are talking about the pitfalls, what would be an example of a pitfall to look out for? You mentioned that we have five, why don’t you go ahead and jump into the first one.
Jamie: Don’t set it and forget it. It’s really easy when you put things into a scheduler to just say okay I’m done, I saved my time, and then not look at how you did. The important part of social media is to get results. So set your goal and say okay I want to drive more traffic to my website, I want to gain page likes, I want to sell things, I want to increase my sales, Whatever your goal is, make sure you reach those goals. So always go back, maybe weekly, maybe monthly depending on what your frequency is. Go back to your analytics and see how you did, and then make adjustments. What day of the week worked best for you? What type of content worked best for you? Maybe you tried a video and that didn’t work out so well, but the photo slideshows worked really well. Some tips – videos work really well. But always look. Your audience might be different, your content might be different. Check and see what worked and make adjustments.
Brent: So even though we are talking about automation and that whole idea of automation is to make things easier and more hands-off, what you’re saying is being completely hands-off really doesn’t work well for automation. So there’s still a bit of a mix.
Jamie: Yea, there’s a balance. The important part of the scheduler is that you only spent maybe an hour to five hours depending on how frequently or how many posts you are making, and then you just did it maybe the first day of the month or the last day of the month, and then you didn’t have to worry about it. Instead of every day setting aside an hour to post to Facebook, to post to Twitter, to post to Instagram, to go through on Pinterest. You don’t have to do it every day, but you do have to spend some time looking at your results.
Brent: So it saves you time, but it doesn’t eliminate the effort that you have to put into it.
Jamie: Yea, so you can do the scheduling on your schedule. Maybe you have time at eight at night when you come home from work or maybe you have a free lunch and you can just set aside your time to set your schedule, but you still have to also spend time to look at your results.
Brent: What would be a second thing to watch out for on automation services with social media?
Jamie: The really important thing to watch out for is it’s so easy to, when you’re writing your schedule, to just rely on other people’s content. You think “Okay, I’m selling widget A, so I’m going to post about news that has to do with widget A.” For a more specific example, maybe you sell RVs, and you want to post about area events that some of your Rvers might like, and you want to post about news on the industry, you want to post about some great sightseeing tours. That’s all great, and that’s all legitimate content, but never make that all of your content, and most importantly, never have your social feed be a traffic generating site and a traffic generating tool for other websites. If all of your content includes links to other people’s websites, you just did a free solid for somebody else. Make sure least at least 75% if not more of your content and posts links back to your own website. It’s for you, and your goal is to generate more leads, more interaction, traffic to your website, and sales, you can’t do that if you’re sending people off of your social media to somebody else.
Brent: A number of years back, the prevailing wisdom was to be a curation for good information that you can share about your company or about your industry. So things have backed off from that?
Jamie: That’s not untrue. That’s still legit
Brent: But not just focusing just on that because then you’re just pushing out traffic to those other sites and you’re not capturing it.
Jamie: Right, and eventually some of that content curation is for people to feel like you’re an expert, and they want to trust you, and you engage their interest even when they’re not in buying mode. However, if all of your stuff just links off to, say you sell homes, and all of your stuff links out to different real estate websites, and maybe Better Homes and Gardens and Realtor.com with all that advice, the people that see those articles in your news feed, they’re going to remember Realtor.com, they’re not going to remember you. So keep it small when you’re recommending other people’s content. If you’ve really got great content to share, put it on your own blog, put it on your own landing page on your website, then it’s a twofer.
Brent: You mentioned that 75% of the content should be your own, and we’re also talking about you could still curate content, but the where is kind of the balance if you’re doing that much of your own content, how much of that balance is just information that you’re sharing versus.
Jamie: Content versus hard sell? Honestly, it depends a little bit on your industry. So if you’re an e-commerce site, and you sell t-shirts, you sell clothes, you sell home decor, a very high percentage of your posts are going to be product posts. If you do something that is more service based where you really are generating trust, and they’re doing business with a person and not actually buying a thing, then you want your ratio to be more fifty -fifty between content that you’re sharing and advice and help and information and product or salesy type posts.
Brent: Okay good. We’ve covered two, so what would be the third thing to watch out for?
Jamie: Well, the third thing is to not rely on robots. People can tell when there’s nobody home on a social media account. So you want to make sure that all of your responses, though you can set up automated responses, aren’t just automated responses. You want to not rely on the robots that do the auto-responses when somebody follows you on Twitter or the auto-responses when somebody sends you a message on Facebook.
Brent: We’re not talking about R2D2 robots, we are talking about chat bots and auto-responders and things like that.
Jamie: Which are all great. They help you raise your score on social accounts because that means that you reply quickly. So even on Facebook, you might have seen, there’s a little indication that – “replies promptly to messages” or “replies within two hours” – that’s good, and that means that Facebook will show your stuff more often, and a lot of people get that by having an auto-response. So whenever anybody sends a message, it’d say “thanks for your interest, someone will get back to you soon.” But then you really have to do get back to them soon. When you’re a big company like Nike or Coca-Cola, people don’t wait that long. They expect a quick response. When you’re a small to medium size business, people will be a little bit more reasonable, they’ll wait a day or two, but you really do have to respond within a day or two or you’re just going to lose them.
Brent: Right or somebody who responds quicker with a quick chat bot will get the business. So they are good to use, but you just don’t want to rely on them, because also you might not know, they might go rogue and take over the world or something.
Jamie: The other thing is you want to always check in and make sure that what you’re answering and what those chatbots are doing was the right thing.
Brent: It aligns with your vision for your company.
Jamie: Make sure that if you set up a chatbot, which is, so you have live chat on your website or on any social account, you set up some rules of i somebody asks about these topics, you can answer these or send them these links or pieces of information. make sure that it actually made sense. Go back and see some of those interactions and adjust accordingly.
Brent: So you don’t drive down to the chatbot store and pick out your chatbot?
Jamie: No, just like there’s tools for social scheduling, there’s tools for auto-responses on social accounts and auto-responses on your website.
Brent: It’s stuff built into a lot of that software too. Okay, so what would be the fourth thing to look out for?
Jamie: The fourth thing is don’t take a one size fits all approach for your different social platforms. So just like on that first one, we were talking about take a look and see whether the photos work best or the videos, or maybe posting at one o’clock works best on Facebook, but seven at night works best for Instagram. Make sure that when you look at your content, you’re not just posting, say you have a wonderful article on a beautiful campground near you, and you want to share that on Tuesday, You wrote a blog on your website and it’s a great article so you want to share it. Well you have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You’re not going to write the same exact thing and post the same exact thing to all three of those platforms. You want to take a look at the way things can get shared on those different platforms. Facebook has really beautiful link posts. It actually has the photo at the top, and it has the title and a little bit of an intro on the bottom, Twitter doesn’t do that. Twitter is a little bit different. On Twitter, you have character limits, and you want to use hashtags. Instagram, again is a little bit different. The photo that you share is best as a square instead of a nice landscape. Make tiny adjustments, and then think about is my audience online at night on this account or are they online at day. So even though you’re sharing the same exact content, you’re doing it a little bit differently on each of those platforms.
Brent: Right, those platforms are, as you mentioned, different, and we’ve actually done some different videos on those different platforms. What the demographics are, is it right for your business, but also what that particular demographic is looking for as well as how that particular platform works because, like you said, it’s going to be different on those different platforms on how you approach it. Again, automation is not as easy as it sounds because you still have to have that human brain.
Jamie: Yea, you can schedule it ahead of time, but make the right tweaks so you don’t have weird cutoff text on Twitter because you just used the same post that looks great on Facebook, but all your other platforms look weird.
Brent: Right, you still have to, as a human, think about it, plan it out in advance.
Jamie: Make yourself look good.
Brent: Exactly, so automation saves you time, but it doesn’t replace your time. So what would be the fifth thing to look out for?
Jamie: Always remember to engage your customers. There are things on social media, it’s called social for a reason, where you really just have to be there to talk to your customers. Doing things like replying to reviews, and thanking people for good reviews, and replying promptly to bad reviews, and showing your audience that you’re trying your best to make it right. Replying to comments, posting things that are of the moment. So for instance, your company is doing some charity, maybe doing habitat for humanity or maybe you’re doing a food drive for Thanksgiving, don’t post about that in January, do it at the moment. If you do something that is like a big-ticket item sale, maybe it’s a new home, maybe it’s a new trailer, maybe it’s a car, post “new delivery” or “new sale” as it happens. So you take a picture of the person or the family taking possession of the new house, and you get to tag them, and you get to share it with their friends.
Brent: It works really well with car dealerships. They’re happy, they’ve got their new car, they’re real excited, they take a picture right then and there.
Jamie: Then you get to tag them, that means all their friends see it. You can’t buy that kind of advertising and you don’t have to. It’s free, but you have to do it of the moment.
Brent: And that’s the perfect time because when they’re buying that new car, they’re smiling, they’re excited about it. Where maybe a week or two later or three, they might have some car issues or some problems or some buyers’ remorse, and then they’re less likely to be able to be as, plus they’re now home.
Jamie: Keep that excitement up, keep that interaction
Brent: Getting them to interact with you after they’ve left your store, your dealership, whatever the case may b becomes a lot harder at that point.
Jamie: And it’s also a good way to get somebody to come back to your Facebook or Google profile. We haven’t talked that much about email but being able to tie that together so that when someone has just had that great experience with you, sending that email. They see that post in your social media, they can go ahead and like you and prompt them to give you a good review while they’re still happy. So it all feeds on itself, and you can’t do that through automation.
Brent: Exactly, so is there anything else that you want to share on automation that you think we haven’t touched on yet?
Jamie: Well I think we talked about the software, but there are also some companies that provide social automation. It’s fairly recent, I’d say in the last two or three years, where it’s become something that people offer for specialized industries. So for instance, you’ll have a company that works with real estate agents or they work with car dealers, and their form of automation touches on the sharing other people’s content. So what they do is they look around, and they build a library of generically relevant stuff for your industry. So for a real estate agent, things about financing, and things about the geographic area.
Brent: So kind of getting back to the curating content?
Jamie: Right, so they’re doing curated content which had a lot of value, however, if that’s all the content you’re doing and all the activity you’re doing on social media, you’re not achieving your goals. You’re just filling a news feed. Always think about why you’re on social media, and if you don’t know why you’re on social media, think about it. What would you like to achieve on social media? Do you want to make more sales? Are you doing it for the SEO and the traffic boost? Are you doing it because you want to generate leads? Is it for customer service? Always go back to why are you on social media, and make sure everything you’re doing serves that purpose. If you’re just feeding it with junk that everybody else has, you’re not doing anything that’s of value to your business.
Brent: Right, right, okay. Anything else?
Jamie: No I think that’s it. I could keep going, but you got to stop me.
Brent: Yea, we got to stop you at some point here. Well thank you for sharing that with us. One of the great things that I think comes out of this is realizing that there really is no simple button,
Jamie: No, the easy button, Office Depot has it, but even then, it doesn’t really help.
Brent: We had one on our desk and we were pushing it and nothing was really getting easier. So, automation, it saves you time. It doesn’t replace your time, you still have to be involved with it, and I know a lot of business owners struggle with that because they’re like “hey I set up all these automation tools in order to make it easy so I don’t have to spend all this time on it.
Jamie: and then a year later you have like five more likes on your page.
Brent: Yea, and it’s like this was worthless. So we recognize that a lot of businesses still do struggle even with automation tools in place. they still struggle with the time it takes them to manage all that. So if you need any assistance with that, feel free to give us a call, let us know. We would be happy to talk with you about it, whether myself or Jamie or any of our other staff here. You can reach us at 1(800)709-3240 you can also see us online at netsourceinc.com and we thank you for watching us today. Jamie thank you again for being here with us, and we will see you again soon. Thanks a lot!