There has been a lot of discussion lately about automated posts to social media channels and how those activities somehow miss the “being human” point of social media.
I have been evangelizing the use of social media for the humanization of brands and organizations for quite some time, but even I think there are times when automating posts is permissible—even recommended.
I need to clarify what I mean before going any further: I am only talking about automating or scheduling posts that warrant it, not putting your entire social media activity on autopilot.
Social media activities are time consuming, and content creation and management is a lot of work. It is not surprising that people and organizations resort to automation to make the work easier and more manageable.
A well executed strategy requires content planning and scheduling, and often there are posts that are not about being conversational but serve a purpose such as announcements.
By scheduling the appropriate posts, those tasked with community management and engagement can be free to be conversational and “in the moment” in social media.
Risk or Reward?
There are risks with automation and there have been a number of recent examples that would suggest that it may be a mistake altogether.
However, I’d argue that the demands of feeding the content machine and successfully executing an enterprise’s social media strategy at scale demand certain actions like automation, delegation, and possibly even outsourcing.
Even if automation is being considered, it still does not mean going so far as to put social media on the aforementioned autopilot. Also, automation does not mean that you abandon oversight. That is where some of these recent missteps occur.
Oversight requires that those responsible for social media management are aware of what the automated or scheduled posts are about or contain so that if something should occur in the media that could be embarrassing or offensive when juxtaposed with the scheduled posts, management can react and address the issue before things get out of hand, and avoid a potential reputational crisis.
There are risks with social media and automation has the potential to enhance some of those risks, but there are also risks that your efforts will fail or perform poorly if you do not keep up the consistent application of effort that social media requires.
Furthermore, with the incorporation of the proper governance and crisis management procedures discussed in my earlier post, you will be well prepared to mitigate some of those risks.
Now, I know there are some that may not agree with what I am suggesting, but as social media becomes more mainstream and part of an organization’s everyday activities, I think you will see companies increasingly adopt ways to make social media more manageable.
In some circumstances, they may have no choice…