Social media automation: Key mistakes to avoid (and how to do it)

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If you have ever managed a business social media account, you will quickly realize how time-consuming it can be. It takes effort to engage with your followers. At some point, you will likely think ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could automate this’. 

The problem is that users on social media have never said ‘wouldn’t it be great if I was interacting with a bot’. In fact, bots are one of the biggest annoyances of social media. Although there are ways of scheduling content, automatically interacting with others on social media can quickly make your account feel very inauthentic and cause followers to unfollow your page. 

Mistake 1: Sending automated 'thank you for the follow, here is my website' messages

A common annoyance on social media (and maybe especially Twitter) is automated ‘thank you for the follow’ direct messages, often with some promotional content. For every click-through you get on these, you will likely have another user that unfollows or blocks your account as a result.

The annoyance of receiving non-personalized marketing messages is so bad on Twitter that you’ll see users specifically say “No DMs” or “Marketing DMs will be blocked” in their status.

Mistake 2: Automating likes and shares

Another automation approach to avoid is automatically liking and sharing content, without any user interaction. For example, on Twitter, some will automatically share or like posts that use a particular hashtag. The key danger with this is that if it is fully automated, you lose control over what you are posting. Indeed, someone may use that hashtag in a way completely opposite to what you support (potentially criticizing the very area that you are attempting to promote), potentially resulting in you sharing offensive material with your followers. 

Mistake 3: Automatic re-posts of your own content

A final automation approach to avoid is automatically reposting your own content. While you may gain some momentary traction by re-posting the same content (potentially increasing the reach to users that did not see the original content), this boost is likely to be short-lived. Seeing exactly the same content over and over is a quick way of getting users to unfollow your account. 

Automation that does work: Scheduling

The one way of automating your social media accounts that does work is scheduling. Developing a social media calendar, and then using scheduling software allows you to develop your content in batches, and then set the posts to go live at pre-defined times. You can either use built-in scheduling tools within the social media platforms (typically only available using the business version of social media accounts), or a third-party service.

Some of the most prominent third-party services to consider include:

Whether you are using a third-party service or the platforms-provided social media tools, you will be able to set the time that the posts will go live, as well as to see a preview of how the posts will look.  

The benefit of the third-party program is that they allow you to schedule posts to be shared on multiple social media platforms. This can simplify the approach – allowing you to re-use, or adapt, the same content across multiple channels that you are managing.

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