Many business owners spend so much time in their business that they don’t have the time to run a social media account day after day.
But that doesn’t mean you get a pass on keeping up with social.
Why? Three words: social media automation.
Understand What to Automate
TA McCann proposed the 5-3-2 rule for social media content. The strategy simply suggests that for every 10 posts on a particular network, you should break down the content by:
- 5 should come from others, relevant to your audience (external)
- 3 should come from you, but not directly promote products (Internal)
- 2 should be personal, non work-related to humanize the brand (personal)
Flight Media’s strategy is similar, with an additional category: inspirational. Through much testing, we’ve learned the inspirational content (quotes, images) get more shares than any other type of content.
That said, we follow more of a 3-3-3-1 rule.
- 3 internal posts
- 3 external posts
- 3 inspirational posts
- 1 personal post
This gives you the opportunity to focus on truly connecting with the audience.
One danger in automation lies in removing the human-element from your brand. It makes your social stream feel robotic and disengaging.
Automation ≠ robotic.
You should never automate your customer interaction or troubleshooting requests from your followers.
With that in mind, what can you automate? Several things, actually.
- Non-urgent social media posts
- Your RSS Feed
- Marketing funnels that start with social media
Choose the Right Automation Tools
A quick Google search will leave you with a variety of options for social media automation tools.
For individuals, we highly recommend Buffer. (Free-$10)
For agencies & people who manage more than a few profiles, we recommend Sprout Social. ($59 & up)
Personally, that’s not the only tool I use.
For my blog posts, I enlist the help of CoSchedule. These two tools work together to deliver a strong social media automation strategy for my efforts.
Here’s a look at the basic steps I take:
But what works for me may not work for you.
A few other automation tools include:
Ultimately, you need to test what works best for your business. There’s no one-size-fits all approach to succeeding with automation.
Comment Prompt: What social media automation tools do you use?
Discover Your Ideal Posting Schedule
Knowing when to post is one of the most valuable aspects of social media automation.
Consistency plays an important role. But understanding a few different variables can increase the effectiveness of your schedule.
- What time zone does most of your audience live in?
- When do you get the most clicks and shares?
- What times are you available to interact?
Each of these aspects work together to inform your strategy. When you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have enough data to create the perfect schedule for your business.
Understanding Time Zones
Do you run a business that caters to a particular city, state, region or country? If so, you need to take time zones into account.
For example, there’s no reason to post when your audience is sleeping.
But if you serve businesses in America and Australia, you’ll need to take both of time zones into account when creating your schedule. This ensures that both audiences get the opportunity to interact with the brand.
Evaluating for Clicks & Shares
Use a tool like Tweriod to evaluate when your audience is online and Tweeting.
I did it for my account and this is what it showed me:
You can combine this data with your chosen automation tool for a powerful, engaging strategy. By understanding when people are online, you know the perfect time to schedule the automated posts.
In addition to the tools, these helpful stats can help you understand how to test your schedule.
Your Interaction Times
There’s no tool for this one. It’s all about understanding your own schedule and when you can jump online and interact with your audience.
Why does this matter to social media automation?
If you’re scheduling posts when you can’t jump online and interact, then you may miss out on powerful conversations with your audience.
Side-note: fine-tuning these 3 items comes with time. From working with more than 100 brands’ social media in the last year, we’ve learned that every niche isn’t equal. Meaning, the best times of day to post for marketing companies (like ourselves) aren’t the same as chiropractors or fitness trainers. (That’s why you need to find out for yourself!)
Every business owner can benefit from the power of social media automation. But only if you take a strategic approach to it.
Otherwise, it could do more harm than good.
How does your business use automation? Could you benefit from a stronger strategy?