1. SEJ
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The Pros and Cons of Twitter Automation

Twitter Automation: Proceed with Caution

Automation has a strong role to play in lessening the burden on social media managers and entrepreneurs while enhancing their presence on Twitter and other social platforms. There are a number of tools that help us be omnipresent on Twitter. 

Automation is cool and convenient. It helps you meet your stipulated quota of posts each day without taking up too much time or you having to worry about that question which never goes away — What do I post about today?

Twitter Automation: Proceed With Caution | SEJHowever, as with any kind of automation, a human touch is still required

I’m all for automation, but it should be but a small part of your overall strategy. Businesses that put their social media presence on auto-pilot can land into some trouble with their audience. Here are just a few of the issues with automation that could hurt your campaign:

Appearing Robot-Like

Personality is what drives social engagement. That imperfect grammar, those occasional typos – they look like they were made by a human who composed the tweet on the go through his or her iPhone. With too many automated tweets, you risk sounding like a robot, especially if your tweets were written at leisure – followers can usually tell what’s spontaneous or not. There is something disconnected and formulaic about tweets that were composed earlier and set to appear at certain times.

Too many automated tweets could make you seem dry and robotic. Not recommended if your aim is to generate user engagement.

What to do about it: Don’t automate all your tweets. Use the platform for real-time engagement with people as well. Bring your real self to the party whenever possible!

PR Disasters

You schedule a tweet for a particular time and you obviously don’t know what’s going to be trending at that hour. If there happens to be a tragic story trending, your tweet run the danger of looking out-of-place and insensitive. 

ISIS bombed yet another city in Europe. People are horrified. There is widespread outrage on Twitter. There is precious else that people want to talk about since everyone is (rightly) worried about our collective future.

And then appear a series of your tweets within the space of a few hours. Something to the effect of “Check out my new ebook!” or an image of your team having fun in Hawaii.

Obviously, this is poor timing and may make you seem insensitive or oblivious to the world, which is not a good thing in this era of cultural connectivity, unprecedented awareness, and instant access to information from around the world. Of course, it wasn’t intentional on your part, but perception is everything.

What to do about it: The moment there is a big development like the one mentioned above, hold off on the automated tweets for a bit. But that is only possible when you are already aware of the breaking news and time differences across zones might make this tricky.

One of the good things about Twitter automation is your tweets can appear when you are sleeping. If your target audience is global, this is helpful as it keeps your name or the name of your brand visible.

If an automated tweet does appear before you are able to catch up on the news in your part of the world, follow up with a live one to express your condolences. Twitter is a global platform and it’s often here that people discover breaking news. (One study found that Twitter users tend to be highly interested in news.) Few of us can afford to remain ignorant or live in our little bubbles. While it is great to be absorbed in the day-to-day running of your business, it is also helpful to know what is going on in the world and participate in the greater conversation that is Twitter.

A Lack of Response

Someone responds to your automated tweet – congratulates you, asks a question, or points out a broken link in the tweet, and there is no response from you – because, of course, it’s a program posting for you, not you yourself. Awkward.

Say this happens early in the AM. You have another tweet scheduled to appear in another hour. The person who pointed out your broken link sees the new tweet and wonders – did you even read my comment, Mr. I-Know-Everything-About-Social-Media?

What to do about it: Catch up on the comments when you get online and respond to them. Delayed response is better than none. People understand not all of us are glued to our Twitter all the time.

Harm to Your Company’s Reputation

Now this is different from merely acknowledging a comment or starting a conversation with a stranger. Many brands use Twitter as part of their customer service. Customers expect quick responses to their queries on social. People tend to get impatient on social, since it’s a live platform where delays in addressing queries are taken as a lack of professionalism.

With automated tweets, however, businesses give people the impression they are online all the time, encouraging customers to engage with them. If there is no response, customers might feel they are being ignored.

Worse would be for a customer query that has not only not been acknowledged to be followed by yet another automated tweet – completely oblivious to the customer’s grievance.

What to do about it: Post the hours you will be available for addressing customer queries, preferably every day at the time of signing off. 

Critical Remarks Left Unaddressed

When someone criticizes you, your business, or merely a tweet of yours, you don’t want to leave those negative vibes floating around for long. Leaving criticism unaddressed (we are not talking about trolls, but criticism which people feel justified in making) can potentially harm the reputation of your brand.

What to do about it: With automated tweets you might not be around to address the remarks in real time, but you want to do that soon as you are back online to contain the damage.

People are usually forgiving when businesses not only apologize for the inconvenience caused to their customers but also for delayed responses.

Automatic Favoriting, Follow-backs, and DMs can be Detrimental

With the help of certain IFTTT Twitter recipes, individuals and businesses can auto favorite tweets, auto follow back new followers, as well as set-up automated DMs, among many other things.

Unfortunately, automation exercises no discretion. Merely selecting certain keywords and setting up a recipe to favorite tweets that contain those words, or even posts made by certain people, can lead to embarrassing stuff given the uncertain nature of what others might post.

Auto following back spammy businesses or individuals with dodgy records doesn’t serve you either. Also, Twitter limits the amount of accounts you can follow. You don’t want to waste those follows on spammy or useless Twitter users!

What to do about it: You need to know what is being favorited in your name. Immediately unfollow people or businesses that do not inspire confidence in you. We are a bit ambivalent towards auto-DMs, though they could work with personalization and humor. Don’t cram it with information people can easily find on your profile – I love Internet Marketing and chasing rabbits in my spare time. For whatever reasons, it’s just not the same as sending people a welcome email. They haven’t subscribed to your blog; they have simply followed you on Twitter. Act accordingly!

Use Automation Wisely for Maximum Benefits

Twitter automation is a great help for small businesses and busy individuals. Scheduling tweets takes a load off your shoulders. But at the end of the day, it’s just a tool, programmed to function a certain way. Don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security.

The ultimate goal of a social platform is engagement. Automation cannot be a substitute for that. Automation or not, you still have to be alert to know what’s going on with your Twitter profile and be quick to act.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Imaginovation. Used with permission.
In-post Image: Image b
y Imaginovation. Used with permission

Michael Georgiou Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer at Imaginovation

Michael Georgiou is the CMO and Co-founder of Imaginovation, a full service, turn-key digital solutions company serving Raleigh, NC and ...

The Pros and Cons of Twitter Automation

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