Why I’ll Never Automate Social Media

May 17th, 2011 by

“Trying to automate social media is like trying to automate a networking event. You “could” send a mannequin, but why?”

Scott Stratten of UnMarketing shared this on twitter earlier this month and it really struck a chord with me.  I’ve never automated social media, at least not when it came to connecting with people or following new users.  Sure, I do a quarterly follow cleanup using UnTweeps and I’ll use Hootsuite or the like to schedule tweets pertinent to a certain time or event, but I’ve never auto followed anyone nor have I auto tweeted any of my content.  I can say first hand that there is absolutely no value to it.

But If You Don’t Automate Social Media, How Do You Know?

I said I don’t automate social media, that doesn’t mean I haven’t and even though I have, I did so completely against my own advise.  For over a year now I have helped manage multiple social media campaigns that are almost completely automated.

Each month forty tweets on varying topics related to their industry or business are loaded into the automation tool, and Monday through Friday they tweet twice a day at random.  This delivers the perception of involvement and engagement, and once the foundation is in place the accounts begin auto following users that are nearby that happen to mention certain terms related to their industry.  The system then waits three days and if they follow back they will keep the reciprocated relationship, if they don’t follow back they are unfollowed after the three days.  To prevent a 1:1 ratio the system is not devised to auto follow follows that come from outside the system.  This gives the perception of a natural following.

In the time I have  been forced to partake in this I have not seen a single mention, or retweet, and the efforts have resulted in very little website traffic.  Yet because the system garnishes hundreds, if not thousands of followers the misinformed are lead to believe the value is in the follower number alone.

Numbers Do Not Indicate Influence

As I mentioned in my examples above, the accounts I have overseen have built up a significant following, oftentimes hundreds or thousands of followers are generated.  However, even with a large following that is relatively targeted and content that has otherwise done well on the internet, they are unable to generate any sort of engagement.

Social Media is SOCIAL

This brings us back to Scott’s quote, you could send a dummy to a networking event, but why?  It wouldn’t learn about the people you are trying to reach out to.  It would not speak to the people in a way that would interest them in you or your brand.  It would just give the perception that you were there, but unlike all the other attendees it would not engage in any sort of interaction.

Social Media has the word “social” in it for a reason, it is a social activity..  People utilize social networks to build a community of peers and brands that they trust.  I joined Twitter in 2008 and I still hand pick every person I follow.  I still read every follower email to see if the person following me is someone that would add value to my conversations that I should follow back.  I look for people who will add value to my online experience and the online community I have built over the last three years.

If you’re acting like a social media dummy you’re not bringing anything of value to the party, you’re simply making an appearance while the rest of the party-goers expand their networks.

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One Response to “Why I’ll Never Automate Social Media”

  1. […] You've established your social media presence, you've figured out how to measure your social media wins, and now you're so busy being social you're running out of time to do all the things that matter most to your business, like making money. What's a person to do? You know there are plenty of posts that you could easily schedule out if you just had a little help. Thankfully we've come a long way over the last few years and there are a number of tools that can help. Here are five tools to help you free up some of your time while still getting your company's message across. Just make sure you don't become a social media robot. […]

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