Do you have any social media marketing related question?
Here is a very interesting question I received when I emailed my newsletter about the concerns/questions they have about social media marketing. Make sure you subscribe HERE if you want to ask me a question, and I’ll make sure that I answer it in a blog post here at HQSocialMedia!
How does a senior citizen, overwhelmed with the social networks, bring some form of automation to the frenzied inter-relationship of the email, twitter, facebook, blog, etc?
I was very excited to answer this question because I know that this is a major concern for every person who’s doing social media marketing. Automation has been the subject of many debates, some people approve it, while others don’t. Before I can give you some tricks on how to do it, I feel the necessity to explain the 2 sides of the coin first.
These guys have a strong objection for every form of automation you can think of. They believe that if you automate your social media marketing, then you’re going to miss the whole point of it. Automation for them is the evil that will destroy the social world. The reason that made these people very angry about this concept is the practice of some spammers who are really ruining the social experience.
These guys approve social media marketing automation because they feel overwhelmed by the tasks social media imposes. They feel that most of their time goes into tasks that bring in very little return and they rather invest it producing valuable content, products or services. While there are some people who do it for the sake of spamming, others feel really drained by all the activities of social media.
The Middleman (Me And Hopefully You)
I believe that extremism is never a good thing. If we want to make the most out of social media, then the 2 approaches must be considered. I personally don’t have a problem with some automation as long as it doesn’t bother many people (there will be always people who’ll give you negative feedback about it no matter what you do). On the other hand, I hate spam (who doesn’t!). For small businesses, we can’t possibly be online 24/7 to post and respond to people. That is simply not possible unless of course you can afford a dedicated team for that. In order for me to explain my point, here are few benefits of making use of some sort of automation (I’ll explain that later in the post):
1- It Perfectly Applies To The Pareto Principal
If you’re not familiar with the Pareto Principal, it simply states that 80% of our outcomes come from 20% of our actions. I find that the 80% of actions that produce only 20% of our outcomes need to be automated (or at least semi-automated) so you can focus on the actions that bring in the most ROI.
2- It Increases Your Productivity
Some small businesses who have yet a small online following might not know that, but when you do have a big following, you’re in trouble!
Forget about half an hour a day maintaining your social profiles, because that won’t be possible. This will lead to a decrease in your productivity and you’ll find yourself doing very little work that really matters. There are priorities that need to be taken into consideration in business. Why do you think Seth Godin disables comments on his blog? It’s because the priority is in producing valuable content. He knows that if he opens comments, he’ll spend all day reading and replying to comments instead of providing great ideas for businesses. Some people might find that behavior anti-social or they might simply say that he’s missing the point of the web 2.0, but it doesn’t matter as long as his audience is ok with that!
3- It Moves Your Business Forward
I’m not sure about you, but I definitely prefer writing a blog post that answers a critical question, then consume that same time browsing around on Twitter and tweeting stuff!
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that discovering interesting content or tweeting won’t move your business forward, but it doesn’t have the impact of a blog post on your business. As I told you before, you should prioritize and then execute your tasks accordingly from the most beneficial to your business to the least. Doing that will help your business move forward instead of getting stuck in one place doing things that bring in very little to no ROI even in the long term!
Tips And Tricks To Automate Your Social Media Marketing
To make things simpler, we need to group all the different tasks required by social media marketing into their appropriate categories. The most resource-consuming steps in social media marketing are: content discovery, content creation, posting and managing.
How Do I Automate My Content Discovery?
As they say, content is what keeps the social engine running. The more interesting content you’re going to find, the better understanding you’ll get about your industry and the more people will perceive you as a market leader when you share it with them!
I personally use 2 very effective approaches when it comes to finding interesting content.
1- I use a combination of Google Alerts and Google Reader to automate the process of finding interesting content using keyword queries as well as RSS sources of blogs I already know. This process can be very effective, but sometimes overwhelming, especially if you use broad keywords. If you only rely on RSS feeds, then you’re going to miss a lot on discovering new sources of great content. It sure automates the process of finding content for you, but it doesn’t have filters that can tell you whether the post is worth checking, so you need to go through them and find that yourself.
2- This approach is really easy to implement and is definitely more effective. I group the most influential people in my industry in a Twitter list that I call “Interesting Content”. This way I never run out of interesting content. When I find a very interesting piece of content that one of these influencers posted, I make sure to add the Twitter profile of the person who has written it into to list. This way I make sure that I don’t only focus on influencers, but also new people who might have very interesting ideas to share. I also scan through my main Twitter stream to find new people who are tweeting related content to my industry and add them to the list. This keeps my Twitter list dynamic and always filled with new interesting content. Sure it needs little maintenance, but we’re talking about just few minutes a day.
Content discovery is a very resource consuming task, especially if you don’t have a clear process of doing it. The above techniques will save you the headache and provide you with fresh and interesting content that may benefit you as well as your audience.
How Do I Automate Content Creation
Unfortunately for you, content creation can’t be automated. This is the only step that you really need to be spending your time doing and perfecting. Sharing other people’s interesting stuff won’t get you anywhere. There must be a mixture of both if you want people to perceive you as an authority in your industry!
When I talk about content creation, I mean across all the channels that you’re using to market your business whether it is Facebook, twitter, blog, email newsletter…etc. I’m sure that you hear the term “Content Marketing” hundreds of times every day (at least I do), and there is a very good reason for that. Content is proven to bring in more business not only for B2C companies but also for B2B. It’s the lifeblood of every healthy business, and I believe that you should allocate serious resources to producing it.
On the other hand, there is an emerging marketing strategy that is also proven to bring in results. Curating content, if done correctly, can keep your social engine running, especially if you don’t have the resources to execute a content marketing strategy. It’s not a replacement for original content, but if you can reflect on the content you’re curating and give your own interesting perspectives, it can be very effective.
Curation isn’t only done on your blog; it can be done on your email newsletter as well. You can choose your own pace when sending curated news to your newsletter. Some people do it daily (Like Jay Baer’s newsletter “one social thing”), others do it weekly where they group 5 or 10 interesting articles of the week and send them to their newsletters. The point is, with a combination of content creation and curation you’ll never run out of interesting content even if you’re in the craziest industry on earth.
How Do I Automate My Posting?
Like content discovery, posting can take lots of your time and energy. I’m not a big fan of cross-platform plugins and apps (the ones that post to your social profiles automatically), because there is very little control on what should be posted and also because each social platform is different in nature and in audience. I don’t particularly like apps that let you update your Facebook page whenever you have a new post on your blog. I like to take advantage of what every platform has to offer without of course wasting lots of time doing it. Here is how I do it on each platform.
Although there are many platforms that let you update all of your profiles in one click, I don’t really like using them because they lack the customization needed for each platform. For the blog, I use WordPress to manage my content. There isn’t much automation when it comes to blogging, so you should do it manually if you want to get the most benefit from every blog post you put out there!
I use many platform for my Twitter account. The first one is Hootsuite. This platform helps me schedule my tweets to go at specific times (they have their autoschedule feature as well). This platform saves me tons of time not only when posting content, but also when discovering new content and managing my Twitter account.
I also use a great piece of software called TweetAdder (affiliate link) and it’s probably the biggest time saver for me. I can use it to update my Twitter profile using RSS feeds of blogs that I know post interesting content every time. I use it to promote my free ebooks and reports (build my email newsletter), following new targeted profiles, unfollowing, and all of this is completely hands-free. This piece of software has contributed a lot to my business and I absolutely recommend it to everyone who wants to explore the power of Twitter without spending hours doing it manually.
Although I’m not a big fan of cross-platform plugins, I find the WordPress plugin called “Tweet Old post” to be priceless. Since I started using it along with TweetAdder, my Twitter traffic has literally exploded (I get lots of traffic from Twitter). What it basically does is posting your old content automatically to your Twitter account. This will bring life to your old content that didn’t probably get the attention and appreciation it deserves. You can include specific categories and also a specific period of what timeframe you need the plugin to consider (for example only posts of the last month, this year…etc).
To optimize the performance of my Tweets I sometimes use a combination of Buffer and Tweriod (Tweriod now lets you transfer the best times to tweet to your Buffer account). Once you connect Tweriod to your Buffer account and export the best performing times, all you’ll be doing then is adding your posts to Buffer and it’ll do the rest! This is considered a big time saver because you don’t have to check out which tweet results in the most clicks/retweets and each time adjust your new tweets according to those performing times. This combination does all of that for you automatically.
I use their own scheduler to post my Facebook statuses at specific times. I prefer it because it’s simpler and more effective when it comes to customization.
For email marketing is use and recommend Aweber. I didn’t try other services because I didn’t have to since Aweber offers all the functionality that my business needs. There is a great option called “Blog Broadcast” on Aweber that lets you automatically send a broadcast to your newsletter each time you post a new article on your blog. All you have to do is to put your RSS feed and you’re good to go. The best thing about this feature is that it allows you to customize how your messages look and feel. Once you set it up, you don’t have to worry about sending an email broadcast each time you have a new post on your blog. You can also set specific times and dates for the broadcast to go to ensure maximum exposure (you can use their data to see where most of your audience is from). If you’re in my newsletter, then you know what I’m talking about
How Do I Automate My Social Media Management?
Unfortunately, management is another task that you can’t fully automate. There are some tricks that help you spend less time and do more, but if you automate your replies, then you’re going to be missing the whole point of social media.
There is no robot (YET) that can effectively interact with human beings. Your job is to focus on the tasks that bring in the most results and do less of the other ones that bring in very little to no ROI. I use Hootsuite to manage my social profiles. It organizes everything perfectly in one place and this will save you lots of time. For blog comments, I don’t use any third party software, because I don’t like the fact that I don’t then own my blog comments (Who knows! I might change my mind).
Managing your blog, newsletter and social profiles takes some time, especially if you have a considerable following. However, I find it really beneficial for any business. At first, it’ll take you half an hour to respond to one comment (it used to take me that much when I started), but with time, you’re going to become proficient with it and more effective (you’ll know what comments need replying and what don’t). If you find that managing your social media profiles is consuming lots of your time that you probably should be investing in product or service development, then you should definitely hire a social media manager to handle all of that for you
Piece Of Advice
Be careful, there is a very thin line between automation and spam. The key here is to find a balance between automation and manual activity. If a task annoys too many people, then you should consider removing it, because your prospect is always right!
These were my tips and tricks for automating some social media marketing tasks. If you have more tricks in your sleeves, I’ll appreciate you sharing them with us in the comment section below.