Automation: A Dirty Word?

May 14, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                               return to JayVee Media Link LLC

social media automation tools pictureToo many people feel that automation is a dirty word in the social media field.  Yet if we are honest with ourselves, we also know it is a necessary evil.  My feeling is that automation provides much needed assistance for our responsibilities, as long as it is used wisely. You will hear that refrain throughout this post!

There are so many good automation tools out there today.  Some cost money to use; others are free.   Both can be equally valuable.  In most cases, the only trick to picking the right one for you is to consider the one that accomplishes exactly what you wish it to do, in a layout you find most appealing.  Once again, though, how you use automation makes the difference between it being good or bad for business.

Auto posting

There is a very contentious ongoing debate about whether or not auto posting is a good idea.  I see valid points on both sides – as long as the feature isn’t abused.  Our followers and potential clients aren’t fools; they can easily detect the absence of a human voice behind a generic auto posted message.  And it is a big turn off.  Why should anyone stick around when we can’t be “bothered” with them enough to post for ourselves?  However, if used judiciously, there are times when auto posting can work.  If, for example, we wish to thank our new Twitter followers via direct message, and we become so swamped that doing so prevents us from doing our more pressing tasks, I believe it’s okay to send an automated message.  But that message should be crafted in as personable and congenial a manner as possible.  For myself, as of now I choose not to use this automated tool.  Because I subscribe to the “quality over quantity of followers” school of thought, my methods do not tend to generate hundreds of them a day.  Hence, I can take a moment to personally thank each new one.  And believe me, MANY of them let me know that personal touch is much appreciated.

Twitter tools for auto follow/unfollow

There are many tools for the purpose of automatically following or unfollowing people on Twitter.  In theory, they are a Godsend because of the time they save us.  Manually searching for and combing through hundreds of profiles to find a good potential fit for ourselves or our clients can take days on its own.  All of our other duties would of necessity fall by the wayside.  But using these tools to Twitter automation toolsindiscriminately add hundreds of followers based on the mere mention of your search keyword in their “about me” blurb or worse, somewhere among their tweets, is not a good way to find quality.  The tool that I use searches based on my specified keywords, and returns the results to me.  I then go through each profile found and vet for compatibility myself.  Yes, it does take time.  But I want to make sure the resulting connections are potentially fruitful.  And the process is a lot quicker than it would be if I had to first manually search for the profiles before vetting them.  Tweet Spinner, the program I use, cuts my time spent on this duty by better than half.

Social media dashboards

Hootsuite owl

The only downside that I see to using social media dashboards like Hootsuite, Seesmic or Tweetdeck is that postings via them are not always given a ranking equal to those put directly on the profile pages.  While I can’t say for sure, I have heard that algorithms are changing to reevaluate these postings for a more favorable ranking.  That is good news,Tweetdeck bird logo since these dashboards are lifesavers.  Someone unfamiliar with their use would be astounded by the time savings we enjoy just by not having to individually log in and out of each profile account that we own or manage.  And the vast majority of our duties for these profiles can be accomplished via these social media dashboards.

Content curation

Another important duty that social media managers undertake is sharing valuable information.  In addition to the posts that we create, a well rounded selection of passages composed by other industry experts is a must for circulating.  Scouring the internet to find, evaluate and curate posts for distribution can be a full time job in itself.  To cut down on that time commitment, I use a content curation program that brings relevant posts directly to me.  I still need to evaluate them and set them up for posting, a task that routinely takes me a good number of hours.  But at least I am not losing days chasing those passages down all across the internet. For that reason I am very grateful to Robert Caruso and his automated Bundlepost program.
Bundlepost logo

As I have stated throughout this post, it’s not so much automation in the social media field that is bad; it is how we use the wealth of automated tools available to us that determines the positives or negatives of the issue.

How do you feel about automation in our field?  What tools do YOU use in your business?  Please share your thoughts by posting them in the comments section below.

See also:  Social Media Automation: Right or Wrong?  Yes!  by Social Media Today’s Allen Mireles

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