All businesses need to have some form of presence on social media. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram now play a central role in the day-to-day operations of a company of any size.
The larger a company is, the more important a comprehensive social media management initiative is – it is a full-time position, and there is much more to it than simply scrolling through endless feeds and liking people back.
Keeping up with Facebook posts, followers, tweets and customer interactions takes time and can begin to take its toll if you are doing everything on your own. Even if you have a full-time employee handling this task alone, there will come a time when they can’t do everything in a timely and efficient manner.
For smaller businesses and start-ups, social media can be a double-edged sword – it’s necessary, however, not managing it properly can cause more harm than good, and proper management takes lots of time and effort.
Managing Your Social Media
So, how can you possibly fit in social media when you’ve got to actually manage your business in addition to everything else? You could sacrifice some of your sleep, however, that’s not recommended! You should always be getting a good six-to-eight hour.
If everything is becoming a bit too much, you have two main choices: hire or outsource some help; or automate your social media efforts. Well, some of them.
Unless you have the budget to bring on board some hired help, using an automation tool is your best bet. It’s a good compromise which will partly run and manage your social media pages whilst you concentrate on what’s important – running your business.
With that said, social media automation is far from perfect and there are many pros and cons to it which need to be weighed.
The Pros of Social Media Automation
With lots of automation tools available on the market, there are many ways the process of social media management can be simplified. All these tools are slightly different and the right one depends on your needs. In general, however, they all share the same benefits –
It Saves Time
This is the most obvious proof of social media automation – it frees up your time to focus on other obligations. This is the main reason why you would use and rely on an automation tool, and having more time to run your business – make calls, reply to emails, focus on brand development – will benefit your business in the long-term.
It Grows Your Audience
Social media automation tools can be highly modified and controlled. For instance, you can schedule your automation tool to post messages at certain times of day, instead of having your posts published at the same time each day when your schedule allows for it.
Although this may seem quite trivial, posting messages and updates at various times per day increases your exposure to different people. If you allotted one hour between 12 pm and 1 pm for social media management each day, for example, your posts would be reaching a very similar audience and people who use social media later at night may never get a chance to see them.
It Provides Instant Support
Recent developments with chatbots and artificial intelligence have made automation tools very powerful when it comes to providing customer service.
Consumers are always demanding quicker and better customer support through social media platforms, and the likes of Facebook are fast becoming the go-to places for consumer help. Chatbots can provide instant and automatic support for basic-level queries or hand it off to a human should it be too complex.
The simplest reply from a chatbot when a customer messages your page for help is enough to dramatically improve customer satisfaction.
The Cons of Social Media Automation
Although automation can be very useful, there are lots of drawbacks too. It is important to remember that this technology is relatively new, and it still has a very long way to go before it is anywhere near perfect.
It Does Not Eliminate the Need for Humans
Social media automation tools still require input from humans, no matter how good the software is. Yes, it will save you time, however, if you are having to put lots of time in maintaining your automation tools, then this is inefficient, and you may as well just manage social media yourself.
It Can Get Repetitive
If not properly managed, social media automation can harm your image. If people follow your page through multiple social media channels and start seeing the same post on all of them, this may come across as spammy and prompt an unfollow.
Although this can be eliminated by the proper management of your automation tools, the whole point of these is to free up your time.
In addition to this, automation is not personal and, since your posts are pre-made, you do not have the opportunity to personalize responses and posts for specific channels or consumers.
It is No Replacement for a Social Media Manager
If you can afford a dedicated full or part-time social media manager, it is a worthy investment. This person should go through a social media training programme so that they are up-to-date with the latest social media developments and can hit the ground running.
A dedicated social media manager does not need to be some next-level Facebook guru; being a personable human being whose job it is to manage your pages, produce content and engage with consumers is enough.
Automation can, in certain circumstances, be a good thing. If you are just looking for something to provide basic-level customer support, then a chatbot could be a good shout, however, if you are looking for a comprehensive automation tool which can help your company benefit highly from social media, you may have your hopes set a little too high.
Although automation tools can help alleviate some pressure, they are no replacement – yet – for humans and a properly trained social media manager is always going to be the best.
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