The pros and cons of automation for social media

Full disclosure from the start, point one: This blog post is being written a week ahead of its release date. Disclosure point two: I’m actually a huge anti-fan (it’s the best way I can describe it) of automating social media.

When does it make sense to automate?
If you read last week’s post, you discovered (in addition for my love of incongruous German stock photos) that I wholeheartedly encourage setting up RSS feeds and Google Alerts. In other words, automate away for the research portions of your social media life. However, I think using WordPress or HootSuite to broadcast limited bits of information that are completely non-controversial are fine only if you’re there to monitor the social universe for possible conflicts and gaffes immediately before and after your posts go live…In which case, why not just have the post ready and ensure that your optimal time really is optimal?

On to the cons
In the years I’ve been monitoring social media, I’ve seen dozens of  cringe-worthy automated social media posts: “It’s a great day to…” vacation posts that seem insensitive nested in between the live posts of breaking news of a national disaster. Posts meant to engage the follower by asking questions. The follower asks a question back, met by….silence.

Nothing.

Because no one is on the other end. They set that “engaging” post up months ago. Whoops.

And if no one’s at the monitor (or tablet, or iPhone) to respond to that question, they’re not there re-tweeting in a timely manner or otherwise engaging, either.

Okay, can I ever set up an automated post?
Sure. Event listings are perfect for automated posts. You can ease the mind of worried clients or coworkers by showing them that they are not only in the communications plan, but in fact, they’ re already taken care of.

Ultimately, though…say it with me…find out what works for you. You may find your messaging is immune to the types of gaffes I’ve witnessed. Go for it! Hootsuite and its more expensive peers do have a lot to offer beyond automation (saved searches, for example), so when you’re trying out the other features, try automated posting in a safe, controlled experiment. If it works for you, go for it.

I, however, remain the skeptical social media off-the-gridder on this one.

2 thoughts on “The pros and cons of automation for social media

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