As a small business owner using social media to market your business, does your typical day go something like this? “Time to check my LinkedIn Groups, post on Facebook, tweet and retweet, don’t forget to Instagram that picture, hang out a bit on Google+ and oh yeah, pin some stuff on Pinterest.” Throw in a little Reddit, BizSugar and StumbleUpon; lather, rinse, repeat, and you could quickly find your whole day passing by in a haze of posts/likes/comments/pins.
For the busy small business owner, some degree of social media automation is simply essential to get it all done without losing your mind. But how much social media automation is too much? Here are some guidelines.
Make It Match Your Business Brand
Is your business one in which the personal touch is, well, everything? A company that’s more touchy-feely, such as someone providing life coaching or making handcrafted products, might do better with fewer, but more heartfelt and authentic social media posts.
Consider the Medium
Some degree of automation is pretty much a given on Twitter due to the sheer volume of tweets. (Even on Twitter, however, you shouldn’t automate direct messages.) LinkedIn, on the other hand, isn’t as well suited to automation.
Use Automation to Plan Ahead
If most of your content gets read at 6 a.m. on the East Coast but you live in California, automation means you don’t have to wake up at 3 a.m. to post. Automation can also help you out when you’re on vacation or out of the office.
Don’t Get Locked into the Schedule
Make sure you are able to delete or reschedule posts if major news events render them insensitive. You should also feel free to add last-minute posts to take advantage of timely topics.
Don’t Automate Customer Interactions
You might be tempted to automate standard responses, but this can be a dangerous game. It’s one thing to create standard responses that humans cut and paste, but automating them is risky business.
Don’t Leave the Conversation
Just because you’ve automated some of what you’re posting doesn’t mean you can ignore what people say about it. You still need to monitor the conversation. That’s where the last tip comes in:
Put It All Together
Social media automation’s most useful feature for small business owners is the ability to monitor, schedule and react to everything in one place. Hootsuite and SproutSocial both offer dashboards that streamline the process of handling social media so you don’t have to log in and out of different accounts, apps and screens. That alone will save you precious hours.
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