Monday, March 12, 2012

Three Reasons Why You *Really* Shouldn't Automate Social Media

One of the unwritten rules of excellent Social Media is  - don't automate your Social Media. When a so-called Social Media Expert tries to convince you that a piece of software can make your Social Media a snap, it's a good bet that they have no idea what they are doing.

It's very apparent, however, that it is possible to automate Social Media - Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and even Empire Avenue, provide ways of doing just that. So....where's the disconnect? If you can make Social Media simpler through automation, why not just do it? Here's three critical reasons why you should make each and every connection personal:

Lack of Customization Looks Insincere

When you format a Tweet, you have 140 characters total. There needs to be no preamble, no sign-off. Everyone knows this, and no one considers it inappropriate. On your mailing list, however, this would be seen as terse - at best - and really just plain rude by most people. You're missing a chance to be approachable and human with a simple greeting and sign-off or, if you have the kind of list that uses customized images and formats, a slick-looking message. What works best for Facebook might be a short intro to the link, the link and a personal comment about the link. On LinkedIn, you'll probably want to add a line or two of insight or application.

When you boilerplate your communications, it signals insincerity. Take the time to make each communication count for maximum impact on that platform.

It Puts A Barrier Between You and Your Message

Let's say you have a blog, a Mailing List and Facebook. When you automate your Social Media, on the one hand it shows consistency, but on the other, it begins to take on a corporate slickness that makes it less human. There's one message there, and no real person behind that message. How long does it really take to email your List and let them know something terrific is happening? That personal touch gives your message a voice - and a face.

Taking a moment to write authentic communications gives your audience a voice to hear, and a person to respond to.

Closes You Off To Response

Once you've begun to automate Social Media, you'll save a lot of time. That's the rationalization, but is it true? Aside from the obvious point that taking 5-10 minutes a day to connect with people isn't really asking all that much; when you save those seconds, what are you planning on doing with them? Because you've automated your communications with your audience, the barrier you've placed between them and you goes both ways -  are you going to take the time needed to respond to people?

+1ing a comment on Google+ takes mere seconds. Responding to a tweet or a comment, perhaps a minute. If the issue is complex, you might need to take it off-platform, through mail or phone. Once the audience you're addressing with your standardized messages become faceless number counts in your stats, are you going to make that time? These people are your audience, your market - your customers. Automating communications with them may give you a few more minutes in the day, but it's unlikely to give you a few more sales at the end of that day.

Keep your Social Media real - talk with, not at people. Time invested in communicating always brings about a better ROI.

Project Wonderful