All small business owners and sole traders know how much of their time is spent marketing, and it feels like once you've finished it's time to start again. With all the run-of-the-mill work such as orders, selling, invoicing and the rest, social media posting could become the straw that broke the camel's back. Too much work, not enough time in the workday. But social media cannot be ignored; it is cheap, it reaches your chosen target market and, most importantly, it is visual. But it needs to be consistent. Posting needs to be done at the researched best times and days for great post engagement.
Instead of neglecting the important aspects of your business, automating your social media interaction will save you hours of weekend and evening work, and will give you peace of mind.
There are limitations. If you have a request from a current or potential client on your Facebook page, for example, do not rely on automated responses. Actual people need the personal touch. Most users are experienced on social media, and they recognize an automated response, so be careful how much you automate.
But by planning the release times of your posts, over a set period, automation is the answer to your problems. Software is available to monitor your accounts, so you are notified whenever someone leaves a comment or mentions your company or brand. Or when someone uses a Ladbrokes promo code.
How do we go about it? Let's start with Twitter. Instead of letting it become a drain on productivity, queuing your tweets in advance, and spreading them over the course of a few hours is the solution. Two Twitter automation specialists are Twuffer and Tweue, so check them both out and see which one suits you best. FYI; research has shown that Tweets of around 110 characters, instead of the maximum allowed of 140, get a 17 percent higher engagement, so keep your messages short and sweet. Twitter is a powerful advertising tool. Take advantage of it.
Buffer is also excellent at increasing post engagement and driving traffic to your posts, across all the different social media platforms. You can build a list of your more interesting posts, and share them among your networks, even setting a custom post schedule for all your social platforms, for each day.
To find out who is talking about you online, Brand24 is a listening tool which informs you whenever your brand is mentioned on a blog post or on social media. They don't do the automation side, but the listening feature is priceless. Then you can personally acknowledge, and thank people, whenever you receive a mention.
Many social networking tools have phone and browser apps, so you can manage your automation on the go. Hootsuite is robust and easy to use. So if you only want to install one app, that's a good suggestion.
CoSchedule syncs your social media updates and blog content in advance, allowing you to plan the company's editorial calendar in partnership with the desired social platform.
It's good to remember that one size does not fit all. Successful Twitter content doesn't necessarily work on Facebook. Twitter likes short blasts of advice and Google+ needs more in depth information. So test it out according to your audience, and automate it where you can.
Other outstanding automation apps and software include SproutSocial, Social Flow, and Social Oomph, but search around if none of them suit you. Each has unique features, so choose whichever gives you the best options.
Remember sharing is caring, so share other people's content. Hootsuite, along with everything else it does, has an option to find content that interests you by merely using keywords. Buffer gives you the ability to create a posting schedule based on updates from within your network.
Then there are newsfeeds such as dlvr.it, Scoop.it and Feedly that also share and curate your content. Dvlr.it scans your feeds and posts updates whenever you blog. Another option would be Curata, as a more robust tool. And Chrome has an extension that enables you to stack up your social updates.
For more specialised businesses there is IFTTT. This is invaluable if, for instance, you run a travel agency. This option can be used to send out cheerful greetings when the sun shines, to send out weather forecasts for the next day every evening, or even sunrise messages at dawn. Customise it to suit your company.
Remember, automation is not everything. Login daily to your networks, and post short updates, or greetings, so that your clients still get the personal touch.
Whilst you could leave posting out totally whilst on vacation, some automated posts may still be sent out, but you probably wouldn't want to monitor them while you are sunbathing by the sea. Maybe leave posting alone until your return, and pick up where you left off.
It is important that you don't overdo your postings. Research how many posts per day are acceptable for the different social platforms. Don't flood your timeline or you'll end up with unlikes and unfriends. Remember to post at weekends, generally between the hours of 09:00 and 19:00. And never automate private or personal messages.