Social Media Automation: Boon or Bust?

May 6, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli            return to JayVee Media Link LLC

robot for automationTo automate or not to automate? That is a very popular question these days.  And it’s one that appears to inspire passionate debate!

The way people use social media automation ultimately determines whether the practice is a good or a bad one.  We DO need to remember that for social interaction to be successful we must be present for it!  Automation needs to be recognized for what it is – a set of tools, rather than an end in itself.

Automate to Share

One useful type of automation consists of tools that help us to quickly curate great quality content by other leaders and peers in our fields.  Sharing value is one of the most important ingredients of successful social media marketing.  The activity engenders trust and loyalty among our followers, who appreciate the no strings attached information we share with them.  As an added bonus, the content we regularly share helps us to stay visible among our fans and followers throughout each day.

The downside to content curation is the inordinate amount of time we would need to spend researching and evaluating posts we deem important enough to share if we had to undertake this necessary activity manually.  Such a time investment would render impossible the equally important activity of real time responding and conversing with our fans/followers.  Tools like Bundlepost offer wonderful methods of accomplishing curation while still maintaining ample opportunity for the real time interactions on which successful social media marketing turns.  In this light, social media automation is definitely a good thing.

Schedule for Smarter Real-Time Presence

Another facet of social media automation that hits the proverbial hot button is the actual advance scheduling of the posts we wish to share.  Opponents of the practice often paint proponents as lazy and apathetic about the germination and nurturing of those all important social media relationships.  In actuality, proper use of advance scheduling tools offers benefits that would be very difficult to attain if every post we shared was in real time.  For example, we may wish to target specific time sensitive posts to a certain segment of our prospects/clients who are located in different time zones.  It makes much better sense to schedule copies of our posts to arrive within the necessary time frames, targeted to our fans/followers in each applicable time zone than it does to manually resend our messages at the necessary times for each time zone we need to target.

As noted earlier, advance scheduling of value posts keeps our companies present and visible among our social media platforms for our clients and prospects to see.  Ideally, these should serve as “anchor” posts which we use to stimulate enthusiasm and spark good conversation among our fans/followers.  In other words, advance scheduling does NOT mean we may walk away from our accounts.  Proper use of this feature allows us to spend even more time present and engaging with our audiences, ultimately guiding them down our sales funnels.  Truly, the only fail with this system is for those with an automation “set it and forget it” mentality.

Which social media automation tools have you tried?  Which ones do you prefer for your business?  Please share your social media automation tool logosexperiences in the comments section below!

Advertisements

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

Tweet Spinner: The Great Compromise?

February 24, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                                     return to JayVee Media Link

When it comes to social media interacting, I have never liked automation.  Mindlessly adding large numbers of followers/fans who don’t intend to and never will engage causes a loss of credibility and defeats the purpose of social networking.  My aim is quality over quantity.  I don’t mind growing my clients’ and my own networks more slowly, taking the time to look for those people who are the best potential fit for our profiles and personally reaching out to them.

While I wish to strictly adhere to this system, I am increasingly finding myself stuck in a tough spot.  My strategy has always entailed manually going through hundreds of potential followers/fans, first finding and then vetting them.  As my clients’ and my networks have grown, however, time has become a serious issue.  Crucial as these duties are, posting quality information and engaging sometimes need to take a back seat while I spend hours seeking out new connections to make.  After all, growing networks is also essential.  There just aren’t enough hours in a day to accomplish all of these duties.

Enter Tweet Spinner

Tweet Spinner trademark

I first heard of Tweet Spinner from my friend and mentor, Bundlepost’s Robert Caruso.  Named for its primary duty, posting Twitter messages using alternating phraseology to avoid the appearance of spamming, Robert convinced me to take a look at all of Tweet Spinner’s capabilities, and to consider how some of its services can help to streamline my expansion activities.  I did….and I was greatly impressed.

*** Handling all the most essential duties for my clients and myself leaves me little time to clean out Twitter direct message inboxes.  Tweet Spinner includes a feature that automatically archives the contents of these inboxes on a schedule that the user dictates.  That’s a feature with which I can certainly live!

*** As for auto following, this is where I see the best compromise.  Tweet Spinner contains a number of specifically configurable filters to deal with this activity.  These filters allow very precise user generated stipulations regarding what profiles would be optimal for following.  They analyze probable follow back and engagement numbers, based on past behavior patterns.  Best of all, the application delivers its findings to the user for final say.  So ultimately, the user still gets to make the final call regarding whom to follow.  Tweet Spinner just cuts out the onerously time consuming process of manually rooting around for those potential connections.  Additionally, these very sophisticated filters easily spot and ignore spam accounts.  That is another huge time saver.

*** While Tweet Spinner also features the most flexibly customizable auto direct message attribute I have seen, I have yet to cross the line and start using that one. With a steadily growing network of compatible, engaged connections courtesy of the application, though, I may have to consider it.  Otherwise I run the risk of spending the time its search aspect saves me manually reaching out to every single new follow.  I like to personally greet and thank each of them.  Yet the time I save is vital to publicly engaging with ALL followers.  The idea still doesn’t appeal to me; however, I will admit I have seen some auto messages via Tweet Spinner that were well worded and laid out in such a manner as to not appear automatically generated.  I am still wrestling with this feature.

An Acceptable Compromise?

For all who are happily finding it hard to keep up with rapidly expanding Twitter connections, Tweet Spinner is definitely worth considering.  Even if you don’t wish to take advantage of ALL the features it offers, there are plenty of attributes that are extremely helpful.  And at $22 a month for up to 5 accounts, it certainly is a bargain for all it does!

Would you use Tweet Spinner? If not, how do you manage the growth of your Twitter account as well as those of your clients?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section  below!

Tweet Spinner logo

Effective Social Media Marketing: Quality versus Quantity

                                                                                                       by Jeanine Vecchiarelli

In social media marketing today, I see so much emphasis on quantity.  How many Twitter followers?  Facebook fans?  Social media profiles?  And so on.  And then I find myself returning to the very sage advice of some of the biggest social media gurus, who caution against spreading yourself too thinly, and expound on the pitfalls of amassing huge numbers of essentially empty followers/fans.  I can’t help but see the sense in their very astute wisdom.

Just as a multitasking computer works a little less effectively overall with each new task that is introduced, so it goes with the human brain.  Each profile a person has requires a considerable time commitment to keep it current and active, especially if it is being used as an outlet for social media marketing.  As I’ve pointed out in previous posts, the WORST thing a prospective client can see when visiting a merchant’s social media profiles is a neglected post.  While it makes sense to maintain a variety of said profiles, the operative word is MAINTAIN.  Don’t go overboard, for yourself or with your clients if you are in the social media management business.  The more you try to juggle, the less effective each profile will ultimately be, unless you have a large enough staff under you to diligently tend to all the tasks necessary for proper profile maintenance.  Better to concentrate on a smaller number of profiles, specifically targeted to best suit your or your clients’ needs, and to maintain those profiles successfully.

The same holds true for followers and “likes.” Twitter is a great example.  So many automated programs exist these days:  programs to auto follow; auto followback; auto post; auto verify that you yourself are not a bot; etc.  I’ve seen social media managers strive to follow the maximum number of profiles they can daily for their clients – a feat that can really only be accomplished using automated programs which can’t truly screen potential clients effectively regardless of the search parameters that are typed in.  Not to mention the fact that messages they send must of necessity be generic in nature, so recipients can clearly see they are being funneled into a one-size-fits-all situation.  So what good is following 500 people a day when that big number includes potentially many spam accounts, accounts of people who are poor fits as potential clients, accounts where there will never be the necessary interaction, and hence no relationship building, to convert a follower into a customer?

With the permeation of this “whatever it takes to build bigger, faster” attitude in social media marketing, I guess it’s no coincidence that I came upon this excellent blog from Robert M. Caruso, founder/CEO of Bundlepost, one of the most respected social media authorities in existence, as I was collecting my thoughts to create my own.  Robert most eloquently defends his position against the use of the latest automatic tool to cause us all big headaches, True Twit, both from the make-sense side of understanding how a personal touch is necessary to build online relationships with potential clients, and from the perspective of someone who is continually losing time having to prove to this auto-program that he himself is not a bot:   Bundlepost: Reasons Why I Am About Done With True Twit  And yet, while Robert targets True Twit in his blog, much of his reasoning holds true in my opinion for most if not all of the rest of these automated programs.

Best bet?  Take the time to screen profiles AND followers for the proper potential fit for your or your clients’ services.  Better to build a following more slowly and increase chances of conversion than have to ultimately sift through hundreds of unproductive associations just to show a large number of followers.  Not to mention potentially estranging them in a first impression by requiring them to jump through hoops to prove they really are people.

Well, that’s MY take, based on my own observations.  I realize lots of you may well disagree with me.  I welcome your comments, as well as explanations of your own viewpoints.