Warning: I will be giving real examples. I apologize in advance if my using you as an example hurts your feelings, feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to help.
Despite the wide variety of advantages to using social media for your SCUBA business, I still am contacted by people saying they don’t have time. “How can I automate the process?” they ask. Their desire for automation is often directed at Twitter since they still don’t really “get it”.
All Automation is Not Equal
I confess, I use some automation with my Twitter account. I will peacefully turn myself over to the Twitter Police when they arrive to haul me away.
Here are a couple of ways I like to wrap my head around social media automation:
- Would I setup a booth at a trade show where I had a bullhorn and just yelled out at the crowd all day?
- Would I put my SCUBA business phone number on advertisements, but never answer the phone?
Hopefully you answered “no” to both of those.
Social Media Schizophrenia
I have several Twitter accounts that I manage and I do occasionally post the same link to each account. But why do people do this?
Three different accounts posting the same thing within minutes of each other. That’s all these three accounts do, all day. Notice the “via twitterfeed” in each update? These accounts have picked search keywords that are automatically tweeted.
Would you want to conduct business with these people based on this? I wouldn’t.
Set It & Forget It
If you “set it” correctly, you can “forget it”. But when it was set incorrectly, we run into trouble. Take a look:
Feel free to check out @ConchDivers, their entire feed is like this. Another case of Twitterfeed making an account look like spam.
Not Respecting Personal Boundaries
Twitter has a 140 character limit. If you feed from other sources that don’t have this limit, like Facebook with their 420 character limit, your message is lost.
@PADI has gotten better about actually responding to replies, but I’d estimate that 90% of their updates come from Facebook and are too long. Judging by how many people @Scubapro follows, it looks unlikely they plan on actually using Twitter to listen to potential customers.
Hopefully you see why, as an active Twitter user for real engagement, this type of activity is not just pointless, it’s annoying. This doesn’t mean all automation is bad though!
If you want to share a link to an article (your own even!) across your personal Facebook Profile, Facebook Page, LinkedIn account and Twitter, there’s nothing wrong with that! Don’t have one service feed the other, instead use a tool like Hootsuite where you can select all of these accounts and post at once. This is becoming increasingly more important on Facebook, I’ll explain why in a future article.
One aspect I automate is tweeting when there’s a new comment on the site. Since I have readers from around the globe, sometimes there are comments that come through when I’m sleeping, but I want people to know a conversation is going on. I balance this automation with some personal time when I’m awake. I use Hootsuite’s RSS tool for this.
I read articles all day about SCUBA. Some are terrible, but many are worth sharing. I batch my news reading in the morning and the evening, but I don’t want to post 20 articles at once so people feel overwhelmed, I’d rather they go out throughout the day.
I use a variety of tools to share these links when I may not be sitting directly at my computer. The key is that they go out when I am (typically) awake and I receive notices when people reply so I can reply back. Again, I make sure to mix in some personal time with this low-level automation. Right now, I’m using a service called Buffer to help with this.
Protect Your Brand
Too much automation will get you labeled as spam, which will damage your reputation. Being active should take no more than 90 minutes a day. Being an active, engaging user will make you seem like a real, trustworthy person instead of spam.