5 Steps to Intelligent Social Media Automation

Opinion: Even the best automation tool will require a sound social strategy

A "smart" automation tool can republish messages at optimal times without coming off as repetitive or annoying to your audience iLexx/iStock

Your content is the party that everyone should be talking about. But are you making sure that guests receive intriguing invitations that’ll make them instantly RSVP?

In reality, a vast majority of brands host parties without utilizing their guest lists.

After surveying more than 1,600 marketers, my company discovered that 77 percent of them share each piece of content just one to three times on their social channels. We also found that nearly 60 percent of marketers spend more than four hours creating just one piece of content, while another 35 percent spend seven hours or more.

They’re investing a ton of effort into their content, but they barely put any effort into distribution. It’s as if they’re trying to sabotage their party before it ever gets started.

Each day, people post at least 55 million status updates to Facebook and send out 500 million tweets. Now more than ever, it’s time to be savvy in how you break through the noise and encourage your social media audience to engage with your content.

Consistency builds influence. Through consistent sharing, it’s possible to earn real return on investment from social media. In our experience, on Twitter alone, we saw a 3,150 percent increase in traffic once we started sharing each piece of content upward of nine times per week.

This might sound grueling to marketers. After all, who has the time or resources to coordinate so many posts on one channel, let alone all of them?

Most brands don’t have the tools to efficiently share content. They either manually craft, input and schedule each message for every channel on the fly, or they use a litany of tools to do the exact same thing—with just as much effort.

With the right automation tool, though, this challenge becomes infinitely easier. While not all social automation is created equal, by intelligently finding the gaps in your daily social schedule, a “smart” automation tool can republish messages at optimal times without coming off as repetitive or annoying to your audience. It can also serve as a one-stop shop for all social channels, streamlining the entire process and providing internal analytics that allow you to focus on what really matters: engaging consumers and driving ROI.

But even the best automation tool will require a sound social strategy. Here are five steps to help get your automation party started:

  1. Go beyond the headline: Some brands think sharing content headlines is enough to generate engagement, but it can come off like spam and get you nowhere. Reinvigorate this process by pulling different informational nuggets from each piece, such as a relatable quote or mind-blowing statistic. Then craft posts around these snippets. Pose questions and take polls that will spike interest and encourage engagement.
  2. Find your voice: Just like your writing should cater to the audience, your posts should be specific to the channel. Remember: What resonates on one won’t always resonate on others. Let’s look at Facebook. Even with an unlimited character count, posts of fewer than 100 characters perform quite well, especially when provoking an emotional response. Posts to Twitter, however, perform stronger with actionable, tip-driven content. In addition, when attaching photos or visuals, be sure to optimize their size. A logo or picture may look fine on one channel but then get cropped or appear stretched and grainy on another.
  3. Time it out: Like the common saying goes, timing is everything. For the best engagement, plan to share content at the right time on each channel. By using intelligent automation, you won’t get stuck in the disorienting weeds of social sharing. Instead, you can create messages once and then add them to a queue to be sent out at the best traffic times across various channels. If your automation tool isn’t preprogrammed with this information, here’s what our research has told us: The best times for Facebook are Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 1 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Twitter: Monday through Friday from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Pinterest: Saturday nights. LinkedIn: midweek from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  4. Pump the brakes: You don’t want your social media channels to come off like a nagging friend. Keep to one post per day on Facebook and LinkedIn, two on Instagram and approximately 15 on Twitter. Also, we recommend creating a large library of evergreen content that revolves around your core offering—such as Q&As, how-tos and “ultimate guides”—and using this material to supplement your timely promotional content. With a catalog of always-relevant material in your back pocket, you can easily pace yourself, and you’ll also never run out of interesting content to share.
  5. Analyze and iterate: Don’t forget to measure your success. It’s crucial to know what is and isn’t working on each channel and then make adjustments to continue driving ROI. Sure, this step requires effort if your automation tool doesn’t compile analytics, but it’ll be well worth it. Track likes, shares, clicks and replies for each post. Don’t forget to look for trends, and double-down on the times, messages and platforms that are performing the best.

Help prevent your brand from hosting a party for one. Automation, coupled with a sound social strategy, will get the music popping and your audience’s toes tapping to the tune of all you have to offer. It’s your party, after all, and you can cry if you want to. But with mindful steps toward engagement, you won’t shed a tear.

Garrett Moon is co-founder and CEO of web marketing calendar CoSchedule.