There’s a reality that most business owners don’t realize until they start a social marketing campaign: It takes a lot of time. A lot of time.
If you’re trying to be active on multiple platforms, you’ll find you can spend hours managing all your accounts. Whether you’re posting or responding to comments, answering questions via direct message, or creating major advertising campaigns, a social media presence isn’t as simple as it may seem.
Most people underestimate the time it takes because many of us enjoy using Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and all the rest in our free time. So, perhaps it seems like a relaxing and fun way to reach out on behalf of your business.
But it’s definitely work. Thankfully, social media automation is a way to reduce the time you — or your social media manager — need to spend on your social media strategy. As funny as it sounds, it’s possible to use technology to make it easier and faster to use technology. It’s a matter of working smarter, not harder.
When you implement a program to automate social media posts and other related tasks, you’ll find that your social media strategy is more effective and provides a greater return on your investment.
What is social media automation?
Social media automation is using specific tools to set up systems in advance that automate social media posting as directed without constant effort. It’s a process that uses software, apps, and other tools to save significant time on tasks that don’t require much brain power. Consider it artificial intelligence (AI) at its finest.
The most common task that can be automated is scheduling social media posts to be published at a specific time in the future, but that’s just the beginning. For example, suppose you have written a blog and posted it on your website. You can automate social media posting to your social networks. Or you could curate content from elsewhere on the internet and create new posts using social media automation software.
When you automate social media tasks, you can save time — the brain is not designed to multitask. So, even if it just takes a few minutes to post to your social channels, the act will disrupt you from focusing on other, more meaningful activities. If you employ someone to focus on this task, it’s still worth automating. They can spend their time crafting effective messages instead of doing something that doesn’t require much brain power.
How does social media automation work?
The process of automation can vary for different social media channels, but in general, it works by integrating the best automation tools designed for whatever task you wish to hand over. The first step is understanding what is possible to divert to social automation. Then, you can find the tools to make it happen.
Automation platforms will usually require you to create a profile so you can link your social media accounts directly within the platform. This will give whatever software you use the ability to post on your behalf at the times you set.
Some automation tasks can happen within your social accounts, too. For example, ad automation can occur when you schedule social media campaigns. The social media platform will post the ad when you decide, not simply when you are working at your computer. So, if you want an ad to run at 6 a.m. on a Saturday, you don’t have to be at your desk at that exact time to make it happen.
Managing social media platforms
One of the most common ways social media automation works is by overseeing the general management of your platforms. Social media automation tools can help with content creation, replying to direct messages, post scheduling, creating ad campaigns, collecting data, analyzing metrics, and more.
While you’ll still have to put time into your accounts, to automate the management of the mundane tasks, you’ll be able to spend more of your time connecting with your potential and current customers on a deeper level. You can even spend some of that time curating content — which will save you even more time on your social posting.
To take advantage of this automation opportunity, try linking social platforms so content will post simultaneously — for example, posts on Facebook and Instagram. Being that Meta owns both platforms, sharing similar content and post timings makes sense and is encouraged through the business account feature.
Remember, though, that some messages will resonate better on one platform than another. What you post on Twitter and what you post on Pinterest ought to be very different.
Arguably, the best time-saver is automated social media posting, which is scheduling your posts in bulk at any time before the publication date and time.
Once you’ve created your posts — which you can also do in advance by creating an editorial calendar for your social media campaigns — you can dedicate a block of time to social media auto-posting. It takes less time to focus on this task once rather than piecemeal throughout the week and month.
Automatic social media posting is also important because there are certain times and days during which your post will be more likely to be seen in your followers’ social media news feeds. When you can work in advance like this using a social media tool, you can test different times and days to see if certain posts receive more engagement than others. You also won’t have to work weekends just because you want a post to run on a Saturday or Sunday.
Along with content automation, you can also automate elements of your digital advertising campaign. Digging into the depths of Facebook Business and other backends of your platforms can unveil tools that will automatically create different versions of your ads, call to action buttons, and suggestions for sponsored content and other messaging.
Of course, you can schedule your ads to appear in targeted news feeds at different times throughout the week. The key is to set these parameters up at the beginning of your campaign. You may also be able to save money by limiting the demographics of people who will see your ads or duplicating high-performing ads.
Even with a robust social media team, few business owners can answer all direct messages that come from different social media platforms instantaneously. Yet, today’s customers and prospects often expect to receive an answer right away. The solution is social media automation.
Try setting up an automated bot that immediately replies to all direct messages. Some software tools integrate AI so that the bot can share your hours, location, and other answers to common questions. While the chatbot can’t fulfill every question and request, at least the person on the other side of the message will know your business is aware, giving them a realistic expectation for when someone from your team can respond.
Data analysis and social listening
Other important social media tasks that can be automated include all the work that goes into collecting data, tracking the metrics, and analyzing how you can refine your messaging based on that quantitative information. If you don’t have time to sit at your desk and post on different platforms throughout the day, you likely won’t have time to measure whether your efforts are working.
Yet, any strategy focused on social media for business should include dedicated time to look at the data. You must check in regularly to determine if there’s a way to improve your messaging to resonate better with your target audience. Like all marketing campaigns, social media marketing can be a dynamic process. You can always change and be more effective.
There are also social media marketing automation tools that crawl the web for specific keywords to help you gather content and check in with the conversations of your target audience. This is known as “social listening,” and it’s a powerful way to keep your eye on trends without taking away time from other vital tasks.
Importance of social media automation for your online presence
Once you integrate the different ways to automate your social media presence, it won’t take long to wonder how you ever operated without it. That’s how critical automation is to modern businesses.
Nearly everyone checks in to social media weekly, if not daily or even hourly, so your business can expand dramatically by meeting your prospects where they already are. When this work is done smartly, it can make a big difference to your bottom line for many noteworthy reasons.
Increases efficiency and reduces costs
As already mentioned, social media automation will reduce your costs by relieving you and your marketing team of mundane tasks. You’ll be able to spend your valuable time on the work that can only be done by a thinking human being, leaving stuff like scheduling and data collection to a software system.
Ensures consistent posting
You need to post consistently to make the biggest impact on any social media platform. Algorithms can be tricky, so the best chance to show up in a person’s news feed is to publish a variety of posts regularly. When you automate the posts, you can schedule them at appropriate intervals.
Otherwise, you risk competing with yourself in the news feed by pushing out too many posts too close together.
Enhances audience engagement
These automated social media tools allow you to have a more robust digital presence, which, when done correctly, can help you drive the conversation in meaningful ways. Your followers want to interact with your brand; they can only do that if you provide them with a reason to do so. When you automate the process, they’ll have more chances to engage.
Unless you have a huge team of social media experts, it may be impossible to scale up your social presence without the help of automation tools. Automation can help dramatically as your business grows, all while keeping costs the same.
Provides real-time responsiveness
Omnipresent marketing is a term used to describe a trend in outreach that has company representatives present wherever the customer may be. While that can feel unrealistic, the truth is that many consumers expect you’ll always be available whenever and wherever they reach out. To offer a level of customer service that meets that expectation, look to automation to help with real-time responses.
Facilitates strategic planning
The strongest business strategy is based on objective data analysis, and automation can assist in this, too. Software tools help collect clean data and often use it to create graphs and charts. Some automation tools also integrate AI to analyze different facets of your industry, global trends, and other information that can help you position your business for future success.
Improves social media management
Finally, automation makes social media management easier. You can manage your accounts on a centralized platform, which provides a bird’s eye view of your overall presence. This allows you to see your strengths as well as where your brand has the opportunity to improve.
Although there is enormous potential for growing your business using social media, you don’t have to spend all your time monitoring your different platforms. Social media automation using different social media tools can help you reach new audiences, build awareness, and strengthen relationships with current and potential customers. To start automating your social media accounts, ensure you have a basic understanding of each social media platform you’re on. With the right social media training, you’ll be ready to build your presence with next-level automation tools.