Social media can be one of the most time consuming marketing tasks on your plate and chances are if you’re working in a small business, you don’t have time to dedicate to social media every day. That doesn’t make it any less important to your business, it just means that you have to make the most of your resources, which is where automation comes in.
Automation helps to treat social media as a process and allows you to block out a chunk of time in your schedule each week to focus on your posts. This takes it from being something that you do occasionally when you have a spare five minutes to something that you can integrate into your weekly workflow. Automation helps cut down on the time and effort that is needed to run social media accounts. It also helps you feel more organised so you know what is going out and when rather than scrambling to try and think of something to post.
Automation also allows you to post regardless of how busy things get or whether or not you’re in the office. This is especially helpful when you want to post things on evenings and weekends when your followers are still on social media.
In addition to saving time and effort, you’ll get additional clarity on how your posts are doing by having all the stats around post performance all in a centralised dashboard.
Picking the Right Tools
Last week we looked at how to pick the right social media network for your business and now we’re looking at how to pick the right tools to run your accounts. While there are no right or wrong tools to help you run your automation, some will be better than others. For example, you can schedule posts directly within Facebook which might be something you use from time to time.
Overall though if you’re managing accounts on multiple networks, you’ll want something that gives you better oversight of all those accounts. Two of those tools are Buffer and Hootsuite. Both offer free accounts, which are perfect for learning how they work without having to pay first. Either one of these is great as a first step for automating your social media posts. Pick one tool and stick with it for a few weeks to see if it works for you. If you try to start using multiple tools for the same purpose, you are eliminating the time savings that you get from automation.
If This Then That (IFTTT) is another great tool to help you automate your social media, though it's not exclusively for social media. It can be a bit intimidating to know where to start, but once you’ve signed up IFTTT offers several suggestions of “recipes” that can be used to automate social media across all major networks. Start with a few that are relevant to you to get familiar with how they work, and then add more from there. The sky isn’t even the limit with IFTTT as you can get a notification when the International Space Station is passing over your house if you're interested!
Tips for Setup and Use
If you have social media accounts across multiple networks, setting them all up from the start is your best bet. This allows you to start working on learning how to manage your accounts centrally from the start. To start with, choose one piece of content to post each day across all your networks. Once you get the hang of it, you can start mixing it up across networks.
One thing to note though, is resist the urge to write the same copy for each tweet or post. Different networks have different target audiences, tones and limits. Writing for Twitter with their 140 character limit is different than writing for Facebook. Your tweets need to be short and informative, while with Facebook you have more freedom with writing a post. This is especially important if people are following you across multiple channels. Most people can get on board with you sharing the same link (especially if your’e a small business) but it makes the automation more apparent if you are using the exact same text for each post.
Start small, keep it simple and build from there
Automate Your Images
Another way to help your social media automation is to edit your images in advance with a tool like Canva. You can set up templates for each social media network which then allows you to drag and drop your images in for editing. As imagery is so important for getting your post noticed on social media, setting up templates helps make this process even easier. Our suggestion is to set aside some time and create a bank of images you’ll be able to use with your future social media posts, saving you time and stress when you already have them ready to use.
While you will still want to share your own content, it’s important to be sharing other people’s content as well. I know, it seems counterintuitive to share other people’s content, but you want people to share yours, right? However, it takes time to find this content to share, which can eat into the time you have for doing social media. Signing up for industry newsletters helps to automate this process.
Getting news stories in your inbox every day allows you to save them in a folder where they can be saved until the next time you schedule your social media. It also means you won’t forget to post awesome content from other people and you won’t feel like you immediately have to stop what you’re doing when you find the article and post it. Make sure to give credit where credit is due by tagging the author of the piece in your post. This helps you to keep the human touch on social media accounts and often times the author will give you a like or a retweet as thanks.
The Human Touch
It is important to note that not everything can be automated and your accounts will still need interaction from you as a person. Don’t forget that you’re not just putting out content for the sake of putting out content. You want people to react and engage, but that means you need to respond and engage in return. So continue checking your accounts for responses and responding accordingly!
- Don’t just post recent content. Make sure you post original and evergreen content as your new followers likely won’t have seen it.
- The more you put into automating your social media, the more it will work for you, so give it a chance and keep going
- Just because you can post multiple times a day doesn’t mean you should. Take care not to bombard your followers with loads of posts each day.
- Start small, keep it simple and build from there