The time-saving virtues of automation have been repeatedly exalted but its drawbacks have been spoken about considerably less. I also find that when talking about the benefits of scheduling our social media posts, we tend to focus mostly on how much time it saves and not much else; and that means we’re missing out. Let’s spend a few minutes talking about the things you do and don’t want to miss out on.
DON’T MISS OUT ON: Consistency and variation
One of my lovely colleagues is very much into the concept of meal prepping. She spends one day per week planning out all her meals, cooking them, creating the portions for herself and the rest of her family and doesn’t need to worry about what to eat or feed her kids until the next meal prep day.
The obvious benefit is that she no longer has to slave over a hot stove every day. She does it once a week, for the whole week and saves loads of time. The bigger, less obvious benefit, is that because she plans her meals well in advance, she puts more thought into what she cooks, the ingredients she uses which allows her to consistently come up with a healthier, more varied diet for her and her family.
Well, scheduling your social media posts works much in the same way. Obviously, you’ll save a lot of time simply by not having to manually post content every day but, in doing so, you’ll put more thought into consistent content and creating variation in topics. Because when you dump very similar content in any kind of dashboard, repetitive, dull and done-to-death content is an immediate eye-sore. The same visual quality the dashboard of a social media scheduling tool provides, will help you easily spot content that might not be as on-brand as when viewed in isolation.
DO MISS OUT ON: Detachment & Passivity
The biggest irony when it comes to scheduling your social media posts is that its main advantage can also become its biggest disadvantage. In prepping your content in advance, you know you’ve got a steady flow of posts going out on your profiles so you can lay back, chill and watch both your following and engagement metrics improve, right? Wrong!
Social media scheduling is a content delivery tool. That is all it does. It won’t grow your account for you, it won’t engage your followers for you, it’s definitely not going to address their concerns and requests in real time. It delivers content and that’s it. While the tools provide you with the convenience of not having to log into each profile and manually post, it’s not an excuse to not log into each profile, becoming detached and passive. The time it frees up is not time you gain to slack off, it’s time you get to reinvest into your profiles to engage with your audience.
DON’T MISS OUT ON: Scalability & Efficiency
Managing multiple accounts used to be a big pain in the buns for agencies that had to run campaigns for several clients at the same time. Now everyone has more than one active social media account so even in-house marketing teams have to deal with the issue.
Surprisingly, even though they have multiple social media profiles to manage and sometimes even multiple contributors, many brands still don’t use scheduling tools. This tends to turn them into opportunistic broadcasters who post when they have new content without much consideration for things like timing, keywords, topic variation, branding, etc
DO MISS OUT ON: Timing blunders
On the one hand, not using scheduling tools, means you’re only reaching the segment of your potential audience that’s in the same time zone as you or is online at the time you post. Even then, your reach is limited and the post won’t enter your entire audience’s newsfeed.
On the other hand, using scheduling tools and forgetting about them can lead to some really awkward situations. Life happens and if you don’t keep one eye on your dashboard and another on current events, you could end up revealing the winner of the Great British Bakeoff ahead of time, like Prue Leith.
DON’T MISS OUT ON: Trends & Inspiration
The least obvious but, I think the biggest benefit of social media automation, is that it frees up time and allows you to get lost browsing. Like many other social media power users, I tend to get lost scrolling through my feeds and, in doing so, I find a lot of great content and insightful stories that inspire my own content.
Because you’re no longer running around in circles wandering what to post today, you can do a lot more competitor snooping, spend time experimenting with new techniques, follow topics you might be able to contribute at some point and more.
The Bottom line
I don’t think social media automation is an option anymore, regardless if you’re managing several brands or just your own personal brand.
Neither, however, is the open conversation, creativity and relevance that ensure engagement. Brands who don’t save time through automation to reinvest it into engagement will fade in the background noise and their loss will be their competitors’ gain.