Social media is big and getting bigger. In 2022, there were 302 million social media users in the United States and 4.59 billion worldwide, a number projected to grow to 327 million in the United States and 5.85 billion globally by 2027. And these users aren't just sitting on inactive accounts. Rather, they spend a lot of time on social media, averaging over 2.5 hours per day in 2022.
It's no wonder then that businesses are rushing to social media, with 92% of companies who have over 100 employees using social media for marketing in 2021. Marketers will not only spend more time here, but also more money—a projected $268 billion on social media ads in 2023 and $385 billion by 2027.
That’s a lot of stats. And while managing social media marketing can be challenging and time consuming, automation can help. According to social media tool developer NapoleonCat, businesses can save up to 175 hours per month by automating social media comment moderation and 6 hours per week by automating social posts and ads. That's a great way to keep your team lean.
This article explores the types of social media marketing automation in detail so you can make the best use of your time. It also explains the benefits and common pitfalls of automation so you can make informed decisions.
What Is Social Media Marketing Automation?
Social media marketing automation lets companies use software to streamline marketing workflows and perform repetitive tasks on social media accounts.
By automating routine activities such as post scheduling, content curation, customer support, and data analysis, marketing team members can spend more time on high-impact social media strategies and relationship building.
What Types of Automation Exist for Your Social Media Campaigns?
The following are the top social media management tasks you can automate today with off-the-shelf software.
Content and Template Creation
Social media users are far more likely to share and like posts that contain images and video than text only. Also, the more likes and shares you get, the more likely your posts get ranked higher by the platform's ranking algorithm.
To improve user engagement and your content’s visibility on social media, you must be able to create multimedia content quickly and consistently.
Various tools are available to help you automate different types of content creation.
- Images: Many design apps can help you generate graphics quickly from templates, even if you don't have a design background. Canva, a popular content creation tool, offers an extensive library of design templates customized for various social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Crello, another popular design tool, provides more than 30,000 templates and 1 million royalty-free images.
- Templates: Sometimes, off-the-shelf graphic templates aren't appropriate. You may want bespoke templates that reflect your business' brand image with your company's logo, custom font, color scheme, and design elements. Desygner, a design app, lets you create custom color palettes, upload your brand's design assets, and use free-drawing tools to create templates.
- Videos: Cloud-based social media video software lets people with little technical knowledge make high-quality videos. Using a tool such as Moovly, you can create social media videos for different events and scenarios from templates. Animoto can also automatically generate video slideshows from your existing video clips, photos, and audio snippets.
- Infographics: Social media users love infographics. You can use a specialized app, such as Infogram, to build infographics with interactive callouts using pre-built templates, shapes, charts, and design elements. You can even configure your infographics to import data automatically from SQL databases or CVS files.
- Animations: Animated explainer videos are great for driving user engagement on social media, but making them can take time and expertise. With the animation tool PowToon, you can choose from animation templates designed for various purposes, such as event promotions or product updates, customize them for your company, and insert your proprietary content to produce animations quickly.
- Presentations: Powerpoint may be an overkill if you want to make a simple presentation for social media. Cloud presentation software, such as Visme and Haiku Deck, provides templates customizable with your company's logo, fonts, graphics, and color schemes. You can also share files and collaborate on the apps.
- Podcasts: Podcasts are rapidly gaining popularity. Podcast software like Anchor and Buzzsprout allow you to record, edit, and host podcasts on an audio player customized to match your brand identity. Anchor integrates with all the major podcast networks to let you distribute your content to Spotify, Apple Podcast, or Google Podcast with one click. You can also embed your podcasts in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Quiz, Form, and Survey Development
To improve customer engagement with your social campaign, consider adding interactive elements such as quizzes, forms, and surveys, to your social media posts. Asking for your users' opinions can entice them to share your social posts with friends and followers, amplifying your campaign's reach.
The good news is you don't need to know how to program to make these interactive widgets. You can use a form builder, such as Typeform or Survey Anyplace, to create quizzes and surveys by pointing and clicking, without writing a single line of code.
You can ask questions in many formats, including multiple-choice, image-based, and conditional questions with logic branching, and embed your quizzes in your social media posts. Build your forms using templates to save time, and customize the templates by adding your company's logo, colors, and graphics.
The form makers will host your surveys and store and track each user's answers. They also provide analytics and reporting, such as the number of participants and statistical analysis of their answers. Pretty great, right?
Combining Your Social Media Channels
The average user interacts with more than six social media platforms, so to stay close to your customers, you have to maintain a social media presence on multiple channels. However, keeping track of accounts and feeds on different platforms can be confusing and time consuming, resulting in lower productivity for your marketing team.
Using social media automation tools, such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Sendible, Agorapulse, NapoleonCat, and Sprout Social, you can set up a unified social inbox to consolidate all your social media accounts in one place.
From that single social inbox, you can check the news feeds, private messages, post replies, and customer comments from all your social media channels, including Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. There's no need to switch browser tabs to monitor multiple accounts, optimizing your efficiency.
These tools can also save you time when posting social media content to different platforms. Just log into your automation software, such as Sendible or Hootsuite, select the social networks you want, and submit your content to all chosen networks with one click.
Buffer integrates with the workflow automation tool IFTTT to let you tie your various social media accounts into a seamless system. For example, you can use the Buffer-IFTTT integration to publish tweets to your LinkedIn account.
Hashtag and Content Research
The use of hashtags can turbocharge your content marketing, enabling the right audience to find your social media posts to expand the reach of your marketing efforts. While hashtags work on any social network, they are most popular on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram. For small businesses without large marketing budgets, using hashtags effectively is one of the best ways to reach new customers without paying for ads.
To incorporate hashtags into your marketing strategy, find hashtags popular with your target audience and relevant to your business. Be sure to not reuse the same hashtags in all your posts, as Instagram penalizes users who do so by demoting their posts in its ranking algorithm, resulting in reduced reach.
While you can find appropriate hashtags using your imagination or browsing social media to see what's trending, that can be a hit-or-miss process. Fortunately, many social media automation tools can help you out by generating popular hashtags relevant to your brand and content.
The hashtag sourcing and content research tool BuzzSumo makes it easy to find high-performance hashtags on demand. Enter a keyword, and BuzzSumo generates a list of trending social media posts and hashtags related to your topic. You can use the trending posts as inspiration for your social media content and include the trending hashtags to increase reach and engagement.
In addition, BuzzSumo gives you a list of the top influencers related to your keyword and their vital statistics, such as number of Twitter followers, retweet ratio, and domain authority. You can expand your hashtag sourcing by drilling down to the influencers' profiles to find their favorite hashtags.
With RiteTag, another hashtag sourcing tool, you don't need to provide a keyword to generate hashtags. It automatically suggests the most popular hashtags relevant to your text posts and images based on real-time trending data. Thanks to RiteTag's integration with social media management tools, you can get its hashtag suggestions right within Buffer, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social.
Social Media Scheduling
When you send your content can also impact your campaign's reach and engagement. Think about it—if your target audience isn't online and active when you publish, there's a good chance they won't see your post.
Based on an analysis of more than 30,000 social media posts, Hootsuite found that the optimal days and times to submit your content are different for different networks.
For example, the best times to post on Facebook are Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8:00 a.m. and noon, while on Twitter, posting on Mondays and Thursdays at 8:00 a.m. can maximize your audience and engagement.
Keep in mind these times are general guidelines. The specific optimal posting times will vary by brand and content type. As your business gains more experience posting on social media, you can experiment with posting schedules to find the days and times that result in the highest reach and engagement.
Another complication is time zones. Your social media posts can have target audiences in different time zones, depending on clients and campaigns. To adapt to these various time zones, you may need to adjust your schedule.
Finally, you may want to post your content on specific dates to promote special events or themes, such as product launches or Black History Month.
Thankfully to accommodate the various times you'll be posting, the best social media automation tools—including Sprout Social, Sendible, and AgoraPulse—offer a scheduling tool to time your submissions in advance, saving time and effort. You don't have to log onto your accounts to submit content manually.
To streamline your workflow, you can bulk-schedule posts by importing multiple posts and their posting times in a single CVS file, eliminating the need to schedule submissions one by one. AgoraPulse offers the additional options of bulk-importing posts from an RSS feed and bulk-uploading images.
As mentioned above, Instagram penalizes users who repeatedly reuse the same hashtags by demoting their posts in its ranking algorithm. AgoraPulse helps you avoid that with its hashtag scheduling functionality. You can save your hashtags in groups and add these groups to your posts when scheduling. You can also mix and match hashtags from multiple groups to prevent having the same hashtags for different content.
Data Reporting and Analysis
You can't improve what you don't measure. To improve your social media publishing efforts, you must track and analyze the performance of your posts on all social networks to look for improvement opportunities.
Most social media tools automatically collect data about your posts to generate reports and analytics.
The most important social media metrics include:
- Impression is the number of times your post shows up on someone's feeds.
- Reach is the number of users who see your content.
- Engagement is the number of likes, shares, saves, comments, replies, and retweets of your content.
- Engagement rate measures how compelling your content is. Divide your total engagement by impressions or reach to calculate it.
- Organic mention is defined as an unprompted mention that's not part of a reply. This metric gauges your brand awareness.
- Share of voice measures your brand visibility compared to your competitors. To calculate it, divide your brand awareness (social mentions, post impressions, shares, likes, or paid advertising clicks) by that of all the companies in your market.
- Follower growth measures how many people are following you and the performance of your social media efforts.
- Audience demographics tell you if you're reaching the right people with your marketing campaigns. Your brand may have specific target demographics, such as age, gender, and location.
- Response rate and time measure how effectively you use social media as a customer service channel. Many users contact brands on social media to ask questions or get support.
These metrics often come with interactive charts to let you drill down to get details or zoom out to find long-term trends. You can combine metrics and charts for various social media channels to create custom analytics reports. Schedule your reports to be daily or weekly and share them with colleagues.
Some automation software also performs advanced data crunching to provide additional insights. For example, Buffer can tell you:
- The best posting days and times: When to post to get the best engagement or reach
- The best content type: Whether text, image, video, or link posts perform best
- The best posting frequency: How often to post to optimize performance and avoid brand fatigue
Basic Customer Service
Some users like to use social media for customer service, leaving comments or sending private messages to your Facebook and Twitter accounts to ask about your products. They expect speedy responses, and failure to do so can damage your brand.
To provide customer support on social media, you can maintain a service team to monitor multiple social networks 24/7, but that can be expensive. Alternatively, you can use AI and chatbots to generate automatic responses to basic customer questions, saving costs and improving customer experience.
Customer service chatbots, such as Botsify, Chatfuel, and Flow XO, enable you to create virtual service agents to listen to and answer questions about your products and company on social media. There's no coding involved, and you can set up a production system in minutes. The questions these chatbots can handle include:
- Product specs
- Store locations
- Business hours
- Return policy
Benefits of Social Media Marketing Automation
Automating your social media marketing can level up your campaign performance by offering the benefits below.
Managing a successful social media campaign can require a large team collaborating closely on many disparate tasks, resulting in complex and inefficient workflows with lots of back-and-forth and context switching.
Social media automation software can streamline your workflow and improve your team collaboration via:
- Integrated content research and curation: You can research content ideas and curate trending posts for sharing without leaving your social media automation platform, simplifying your workflow.
- Bulk processing: This functionality lets you import and submit multiple posts in one go, saving significant time.
- Approval: Some businesses require approval by various departments, such as management and legal, before posting content on social media. Some automation tools have built-in roles and workflow support to facilitate this process. After a marketer creates a post, the automation platform can route it to management and legal for approval and send them notifications.
By automating the routine tasks of social media marketing, you can free up time to focus on the high-value-added creative aspect of marketing campaigns, improving the quality of your ideas and content. You'll also have more time to respond to questions and comments, leading to increased user interaction and engagement. Because even though there are bots for basic inquiries, having an actual person respond to comments and engage with customers is ideal.
In addition, content research and hashtag-sourcing tools can help you find popular posts to share and trending topics to write about, further improving engagement.
With automated content creation tools, anyone without technical knowledge can produce high-engagement content, such as videos, animations, quizzes, and surveys.
Finally, data analytics can maximize engagement by telling marketers the best times and content types (video, infographics, surveys, etc.) to post.
Consistency is the key to success on social networks. You can grow your audience on social media by consistently posting, sharing, answering questions, and responding to comments.
Automation helps you maintain consistency by making it easy to brainstorm ideas, create content, and post to multiple social networks. You can also set up a content calendar to sustain a consistent posting schedule.
One of the main inefficiencies in social media marketing is the need to constantly switch between social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, to post content and interact with users. Managing all these different accounts can be time consuming and error-prone.
Automation software removes this complexity by providing a unified social inbox to manage all your social media channels, greatly simplifying your management. You can see comments and messages from all your social accounts in one place and post to multiple networks with one click.
You can also consolidate your posting schedules on multiple networks into one centralized calendar. Your colleagues and managers can check this calendar for the latest schedule, eliminating errors and miscommunications.
Some Elements of Social Media Marketing Automation to Avoid
While social marketing automation can bring many benefits, there are also pitfalls you should aim to avoid.
Everyone hates spam, and spamming on social media is one of the quickest ways to damage your brand.
AI chatbots are a great way to perform simple customer service and answer questions automatically. However, some marketers also use chatbots to promote their posts on social networks or like and comment on their own content, trying to increase reach or create a facade of popularity.
Not only will this alienate your audience, but it will also get your company into trouble. Social media networks don't take spamming lightly and may ban your accounts for policy violations.
Posting the Same Social Content on Every Platform
While submitting the same post to all social media networks may seem like the most cost-effective way to go, doing so can cause more harm than good.
Different social networks have varying purposes and user demographics. Users on LinkedIn are professionals looking for serious or thought-provoking content relevant to their careers, while users go on Instagram for aspirational lifestyle images and videos. Similarly, many people use TikTok for entertainment.
Make sure your content and the platforms you post on are a good fit. Doing so could mean extra work in creating customized content for each network, but the payback is better brand perception and engagement, which is worth it.
Forgetting About Your Posts After Scheduling
Don't just post on social networks without hanging around to interact with your users. You want to engage with them to build relationships.
Spend time responding to user comments and answering their questions to foster a sense of community. The insights you gain from these interactions can also help you improve your social media strategy and create better content.
Another aspect of this is to not forget about what’s coming up in the pipeline. As global events unfold, you’ll want to flag anything scheduled that could come off as tone-deaf and either push it to a later date or re-vamp the post entirely.
Level Up Your Social Media Marketing
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