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As with most things we do, there is a battle between the desire to automate things and the worry about depersonalising your activities and seeming too robotic.  When the question turns to how to automate social media, there are always different options.  And there are quite a few good ways to grow your presence using automation without opting for the canned response.  Here are some to inspire you.

Social scheduling software

The top level of tools to automate social media has to be the social scheduling software.  You know, the guys like Buffer, Hootsuite and Edgar.  There’s no right or wrong answer as to which one you go for so I thought I would tell you about my current favourites and why I love them.

Buffer

I’ve mentioned Buffer before.  It is cost effective and for just £10 a month, you can send content to 10 different social media profiles including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  You need to pair it with a smartphone app to send updates to Instagram but for a desktop person like me, that is still a much easier way to add content.  I also like the pairing of Buffer with Quuu but more about that in a moment.

SmarterQueue

My newest discovery is a piece of software called SmarterQueue that was recommended to me a few months back.  It is excellent and very cost effective based on the features compared to other software.  Two big things I love about it are the categories for your posts and the evergreen content option.

With SmarterQueue, you can select when you want updates to be sent out and create categories for those updates.  So, I have Own Blog Posts, Curated Content, Tips, Inspiration, Repeat Hashtags (for Twitter), Products (for my craft business) and even Images.  You can have as many categories as you want and manually slot them into a schedule.  You then allocate each update to a category and the software slots it into the next spot for that category.

The evergreen section is brilliant.  I can add each new blog post to the evergreen option and every so often, the update goes out again.  The site tells you if you need more evergreen content to avoid spam rules for websites so you don’t try to share a post too often so this is really helpful too.

You can even add RSS feeds to folders on the software to help find content to share or your favourite blogs quickly.

Finding content to share

I’m terrible for eating meals at my desk (my excuse is I drop less food and therefore cause less washing!) and I often use meal times to scroll through news websites and look for curated content.  But I have found a way to have a good amount of quality content sent automatically to my social media profiles each day – it’s called Quuu.

Quuu is an automatic content curation tool that sends content to your Buffer profile and then Buffer sends it to social media.  I was a little uncertain about it at first but got a good offer on the price that made me think it is worth it.  And since then I’ve been really impressed.  You can select content by topic and then on the upgraded plan even specify which account the content is sent to.  So for me, I use it for three of my blogs and send content to Facebook and Twitter for each.  Because a real person checks the content they send out it is always good quality and relevant and definitely helps me grow my social media following, especially on Twitter.  The content you share through Quuu is often retweeted by the original author – spreading your name and profile to their audience!

Automate the little jobs

You can also automate social media jobs with two other brilliant pieces of software – Zapier and IFTTT.  Again, I’ve talked about them both before but here’s a little glimpse at some of the ideas you can use to help your social media tasks be less hard work.

For example, of IFTTT, you can

  • Automatically share YouTube videos to a Facebook page
  • Save tweets with specific content to a Google spreadsheet
  • Post Tweets to Facebook when using a specific hashtag
  • Ensure your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures are the same
  • Share new links from Facebook to Twitter

And with Zapier you can:

  • Share Instagram photos to your Facebook page
  • Share Facebook Page posts onto a personal timeline
  • Share Google Calendar events onto a Facebook Page
  • Share new blog posts to LinkedIn

When automation goes bad

The balance with automating social media comes in when you look at some of the less ideal tactics people use.  My personal favourite to hate is the automatic Twitter message – you know, that one that thanks you for following the person and tells you where else to follow them or something similar?  I never read them and wouldn’t send them myself but they are an example of automation gone bad for me.

Also, don’t be tempted to use one message for all of your social media updates.  With SmarterQueue you can opt to share an update across multiple platforms but you can also put individual messages on each one.  So, you can add your hashtags to your Twitter post and say a little more on your Facebook one, for example.

Don’t forget to check any automatically curated content you have sent to your profile.  With Quuu, for example, I get a daily update of what they have sent to Buffer before it goes out and then I can simply go to Buffer and delete anything I don’t think is suitable.  It hasn’t really happened so far but the option is there if needed.

Lastly, don’t forget to check that what you are doing is working.  If you set up some automation and suddenly notice a big drop in follower numbers, you might have gone too far.  Or your responses might seem too robotic and people get put off.  Or your figures might go up and that means the systems are working but monitor them because social media is a very changeable environment!