Professional Services Marketing Blog

Pros and Cons of Social Media Automation for Professional Services

By Alexandra Marigodova

 

One thing is definite: social media is here to stay for professional services firms. Moreover, social media is now a solid part of 2013 marketing plans and budgets. You can look to our Marketing Planning Guide for tips on your overall strategy.

It is close to impossible to be on all platforms at all times. The good news is that now you don’t need to be! Social media automation allows you to schedule posts and updates to all your platforms, instead of manually posting each individually.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, some have been grossly abusing automation, creating spam, annoying the rest of us and disregarding the true meaning of social media altogether. This post will help you shine some light on the pros and cons of automation and avoid common mistakes.

Pros of Social Media Automation

1. New, easy-to-use tools

So many user-friendly tools and apps are readily available for scheduling your content. The two most commonly used are HootSuite and Buffer. Both provide great data and are used by the most prominent brands.

HootSuite’s free version allows 5 social profiles and unlimited scheduling. It’s a great tool to save time and collect useful data.

Buffer takes a slightly different approach. First you set up your “buffering patterns” or default schedule for the posts. Second, continuously add content to the queue. It will post into the next available slot.

Both apps have very inexpensive “pro” versions that are definitely worth considering for any company with multiple users.  

 2. Consistency

Dedicating time to social media has been an issue for many professional services firms. Even with a developed strategy, consistency is hard to achieve. That’s why so many social media accounts are deserted.

It’s understandable why few firms are truly successful at implementing their strategies. If you are anything like Hinge, you are very busy. It is difficult to keep your audience consistently engaged. That’s why pre-scheduling the updates truly saves the day!

3. Nailing social timing

Timing is everything is social media. With social automation comes an ability to be very mindful of the frequency of your posts and the right timing.

Many general guidelines exist on timing and frequency. I like to use this KISSmetrics Infographic as a cheat sheet.

However!

My strong word of caution is that these are general guidelines for all audiences. There is no exact recommendation because each firm is different. In order to figure out the best pattern for you, think of who your audience members are.

They are people that have commitments, lunch breaks, commute, family time, weekend activities and down time. What time would they be browsing social media? What is the best time to interest them in what you have to say?

4. Collaboration with your team

Some of the available tools let multiple users collaborate through the same system. That makes perfect sense; many firms have several social media contributors per team. You have to know what your team members are sharing and what they have scheduled to eliminate crossover and ensure a stronger, more consistent voice online.  

Cons of Social Media Automation

1. Automation fuels self-indulgence

There is an absolute epidemic of narcissism on social media, and an ability to schedule your posts only adds to it. While many brands like to talk about themselves, they often forget that social media is not the same as running an advertisement.

Yes - you are here for brand exposure and visibility. However, that does not mean your focus should be on endless self-promotion.

Moreover, participating in social media comes with the responsibility to be part of a collaborative community. Posting your own content for your audience is not enough. You also need to share other valuable insights, be it a great blog post from another source, or a particularly useful infographic.

How to fix it:

Share other valuable insights, not just your own. Your audience will appreciate it. In fact, you might even extend your social media reach and gain new followers this way.

I suggest this ratio for the sake of balance as a general guideline. For each piece of content of your own, post 3 valuable insights from other people.

2. Same content, different platform

Ever see this on Facebook or LinkedIn?

RT @TwitterHandle #InsertHashtagFail

This happens because Hootsuite, TweetDeck, SocialOomps and other applications will let you simultaneously post to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Additionally, these accounts are already linked.

Remember, the platforms serve a different strategic purpose, should have varying content, and need to be approached with different frequency. Mindless duplication od content across all channels is a major red flag.

How to fix it:

Determine the right strategy for each social media platform. You don’t have time to be lazy. Think about your audience, strategy, and goals for each platform. How often people want to see updates from you on Twitter? What kind of information will you share on Facebook? What’s appropriate for LinkedIn?

3. Boring robot language

We have all seen them – dry, repetitive tweets and statuses that feel robotic. That’s because automating or scheduling posts so often leads to consistently yawn-worthy language.

How to fix it:

Don’t let the language get stale. Your followers are real people. You are a real person! Add personality, spice, and wit to your updates. Be exciting and interesting to read.

4. Being late to the party

Another obvious downside of scheduling your social updates is missing the social media party. Social media is a great source of news, latest trends, ideas, and inspiration, not to mention networking!

Oh so many firms set their tweets/updates/posts to run and forget about checking social media until the next batch needs to be scheduled. What a waste of potential!

How to fix it:

Find time to browse your industry’s social media space daily. Create a list of top industry influencers on Twitter, participate in relevant LinkedIn Groups, and monitor your competition on Facebook. Be in the loop to stay current and relevant! Remember, we are living the digital revolution – and it moves mighty fast. 

Here’s my bottom line. Social media automation is good for you. It can be a great tool for your firm, provided that you use it with strategy in mind and in an elegant way.

Always ask yourself questions:

  • Why am I doing this whole social media thing?
  • What is the goal?
  • Who am I posting this for?


Your answer must absolutely stem from your overall marketing plan. Here’s another tip. Don’t forget to use our comprehensive Marketing Planning Guide for help with your overall planning strategy.

January 22, 2013

Jeff

I’ve done a lot of reading about social media and this post really stands out as one of the better ones. You should write something about digital outsourcing.

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Jan 16 2013