If you know anything about running a business in the modern world, you’ll know that a strong online presence is a necessity for success and growth. You’ll also know that social media plays a very large part in this and that this becomes, as easy as it might look on first glance, quite time-consuming.
Most businesses have multiple social media accounts that are spread across multiple platforms that require a mix of visual and written content and updates on differing time schedules. This means that not only do business owners or social media managers have to create the content; they have to create it in a way that is appropriate to the platform and the audience as well as spend the time to post it when required.
A hassle, right? Well, a lot of people agree. Enter the world of social media automation, where the hassle of being free to post at the right time is no longer an issue and those who need to run multiple social media accounts don’t need to be posting while they’re out for dinner with their family anymore.
What does social media automation do, really?
Well, the essence of it is that it automates the entire process of posting to your social media accounts. It sounds quite simplistic, but it is a very powerful tool for business owners who simply don’t have time – or just don’t want to – post to social media when they should be. Often this is around evening when a lot of people don’t want to work, or at times they should be sleeping.
These programs, such as Hootsuite and Buffer, allow you to create a queue of content and set it on a schedule to be posted. They also give you the ability to manage multiple social media accounts from one dashboard rather than logging in and logging out all the time. This means you can stay on top of multiple accounts easily, saving a whole heap of time and work in the long run.
What’s it going to cost me?
The short answer is it depends. There are free programs out there that will do the job, but the better and more efficient programs that any serious social media manager would consider doing cost money. They range in price and most have different subscription plans depending on your needs.
Is that all they do?
While these programs have the main function of posting to your social media for you, many of them also come with addition features such as in-built analytics and advertising management programs. This makes it easy for beginners to find out when they should be or when it is most effective for them to post to their various social media accounts.
There are also programs that are dedicated to managing one social media platforms, such as Instagram or Pinterest. These programs often have much more in-depth analytic services as well as addition capabilities that a program designed to manage multiple accounts would lack.
How do I choose a social media automation program?
Well, that’s not exactly an easy question to answer.
The best way to go about finding the right program for you is analyzing the needs of your business.
A few questions to take into account are:
– What social media accounts do you need the program to support?
– Will you need other people to contribute or are you the sole creator?
– Do you need analytic services?
– If so, how in-depth do you need them to be?
– What is your monthly or yearly budget for social media automation?
– Would you like support for other features (i.e. emails or advertising) as well?
Once you’ve got a rough answer to these questions, your best bet is to research! Take a look around at some of the most popular programs to begin with and determine which ones are looking like they’ll work for you.
Try out a few free trials – most paid programs (if not all of them) offer free trials to new customers so that you can try out the interface and functionality of the program.
Also, read reviews and other’s opinions – just because a program is popular doesn’t mean it will always work for your business. A clothing store is going to have different needs to a blog, so you’ll want to see how other businesses similar to yours are using social media automation to their advantage.
What should I be careful of?
There are a few common mistakes made by business owners when they first get into social media automation, and they can be really devastating for your business.
1. Make your content platform-specific!
Just because you can post to seven accounts from one dashboard now, doesn’t mean you should be posting the same thing across all seven of them! Always be mindful of creating and publishing content that is applicable to the platform you’re posting it on!
Failure to do this can deter audiences and scare away the audience you might have already gained. You might also cause people who follow you on multiple accounts to get bored of seeing the same thing time after time.
2. You still need to engage!
Particularly if you’re a smaller business or just starting out, interacting with your audience or potential customers is really important to help build a loyal audience.
Most programs won’t give you the ability to manage things like direct messages, comments or like other’s photos, and doing these things is still super important when you’re trying to build an audience.
I recommend logging into your accounts regularly to interact with your audience as well as be active by liking, sharing, re-posting etc. While automation is great for helping you stay on top of your posts, you don’t want to have a dead account that no one can contact you through.
Social media automation can be a really powerful tool to help build your business. However, there are many things that you’ll need to take into account when you’re choosing a program and while you’re using one.
I’d love to hear your favorite programs or stories about social media automation!