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Does Social Media Automation Make You Look Like A Tool?

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If you are active on a variety of social media platforms, you’ve probably invested some time and money on social media automation tools.

When done right, these tools can save you tons of time online. When done in haste, social media automation can produce in lower engagement, fewer clickthroughs, fan disinterest or fan turnoff.

Let me run through some of the biggest examples of “unsocial” automation and give ideas on how to right these wrongs.

DIRECT MESSAGES
This is the biggest pet peeve of Twitter hipsters so I’ll mention it first.  If you’re newer to Twitter, let me explain. An automated direct message (or “auto DM”) can be set up to send each new follower a pre-written message from you.

How to offend: I have yet to see an effective use of an auto-DM. Think about a seemingly simple, non-salesly message like “Thanks for following!” It might be a stretch to call this offensive. But would such a message encourage you to direct message back or to pay extra attention to that person’s tweets? (It’s never encouraged me to do so.) Another troublesome auto DM type is one filled with calls to action like “Follow me on Facebook!” or  ”If you want healthy eating tips, go to my Website!” To this I say, we just met. Let’s see how our first date goes before I meet the rest of your family.

How to engage: Unfortunately, auto DMs have soured folks on direct messages altogether. But non-automated DMs can be a wonderful method of reaching out to others. I send direct messages to congratulate people with new jobs, console people for a loss, and check up on people I have not heard from recently. As a business, you can send a personalized discount code or message to a Twitter influencer or a highly engaged follower.

FOLLOW FRIDAY
Follow Friday is a weekly celebration on Twitter where you tell your followers about other worthwhile tweeps to follow. The hashtag #ff often indicates this occasion, as seen here in this example.

Follow Friday Message on Twitter from @kristinlaj

Example of a Follow Friday tweet (curated by @kristinlaj — not a program)

How to offend: Many use automation tools to figure out who to include on a #ff. These tools often include their brand name in the tweet so that people know that the tweet was created by their software program. If you use such a feature, keep in mind that the people mentioned in the #ff tweet will know that you relied on a computer algorithm rather than your heart (or mind) to create a simple tweet of praise. What might that say you or your brand’s commitment to your followers?

How to engage: For most, it takes just a minute to review your Twitter replies or retweets from the past week. Who showed you extra love there? Was there a tweep you met offline that you’d like the online world to know about? Take that info and put it into a meaningful #ff tweet. To take your praise up a notch, pick a day *other* than Friday to tell your tweeps how wonderful that  particular person is — that unexpected tweet might better catch people’s eye.

DASHBOARD AND APP AUTOMATION
Many social media dashboards and apps allow you to write just one message, and with a few clicks, send it off to more than one socal media platform. But think before you click “send.” Can people on Facebook make sense of your tweet? Will your tweeps be able to read your entire Facebook post without clicking a link?

Good use of dashboards doesn’t involve posting as quickly as possible — it involves a bit of thinking beforehand. The following two examples are the biggest offenders I’ve seen as a result of overzealous automation.

AUTO HASHTAGS
Hashtags are keyword in a Twitter message that start off with a hash (or pound sign). I’ll use a sports example. Let’s say you’re a New Yorker who likes to tweet from a baseball stadium in the Bronx. You’ll probably use the hashtag #NYY, #Yanks or #Yankees on Twitter this season.

How to offend: If you or your business is at Yankee Stadium or watching the game at work, tweet on — but don’t also shoot out those hashtag tweets with every key play to your Facebook friends and fans. Facebook is not used for real-time news and it’s no home for hashtags.

How to engage: Twitter — and even Tumblr and Instagram — use hashtags all the time. Use tags there so other fans (and perhaps a few haters) can find you and your messages. If you want to let your Facebook posse know of a critical moment in the game, copy a sent tweet (or Tumblr or Instagram post), paste it back in your dashboard or app’s “compose” section, remove the hashtag, and then click send.

AUTO @S
If you want to write about a user on Twitter, you use an @ sign, followed by his name. For example, if you want to tweet about Duran Duran’s suave bass player John Taylor, you’d write @thisistherealjt.

How to offend: If you’re at a Duran Duran concert and want to tell your tweeps about the different moves John makes with each song, go for it. Non-Duranies can figure out who @thisistherealjt is with a simple click or two. But your buddies on Facebook? They’ll have no clue who you’re talking about.

A tweet about @thisistherealjt

If you saw this message on Facebook, would you know what @seaweedgirle was talking about?

How to engage: Use those @ signs on your tweets and Instagram photos from the show. Heck, I became buddies with a great lady in Hartford as a result of tweeting from a Duran Duran concert. Many of your Facebook friends or page fans would like to know about your time at the concert, but one photo or message will do. Use a similar cut and paste protocol as you might with a hashtag.  Copy your sent tweet (or Tumblr or Instagram post), paste it back in your dashboard or app’s “compose” section, remove the @ sign, write the user’s real name, and send off your D2 love.

If you found these tips on social media tools and audience engagement helpful, please “Like” it on Facebook or share it with your LinkedIn connections!

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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