<img src="https://d5nxst8fruw4z.cloudfront.net/atrk.gif?account=2LgIl1aQibl0vg" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="">
by Gillian
on September 17, 2014

If it's 2014 (it is) and you're working in any industry (you are...or you want to be...or you used to...ok I don't know your whole story) you already know that social media is a key part of your online marketing strategy. After all, 83% of marketers say that social media is important for their business and a whopping 96% measure their fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter. [All the Marketing Statistics You Need, 2014].

But you also know that social media takes time. After all, it's about building relationships and those are exactly the kind of things that can really eat up your hours.
And who's got extra time? Not me, that's for sure. In fact, wait here, I have to go get my laundry.
cats like laundry day even less than I do
Ok I'm back.
Like I was saying, time is precious. So how can you streamline your social media strategy while still taking some of the time pressure off your social media team (whether that's a whole cadre of eager marketers or just a hat you put on after lunch)? The answer is:

Activate: Automate

Social media automation is nothing new. Tools like Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and (our favorite) the HubSpot Social Media Publishing tool have been around for years. Whether you're just diving into social media, or looking for a quick way to improve your engagement, now's the time to check out some of these automated tools. You can set up rules that tweet out every new blog post you write and promote certain pages you want to highlight. Setting up post automation can not only save you time because you don't have to type out a new tweet every time you blog, but it can help you to remember to actually post content (by doing it for you, so I guess that isn't really helping you remember, but you know what I mean). This means more content for your fans and followers and more social boost for you.

Oh, the Humanity?

But automation is not without its pitfalls. You can't throw a rock on Twitter without hitting a story about social media automation gone awry, whether it's tweeting the same thing to everyone, regardless of their message (or their username) or simply continuing your scheduled promotional tweets during a time of crisis, automation can backfire.

These are just a few examples as to why your social media strategy also needs to include some humanity, and by that I mean real humans. You can't set up your automated tweets or Facebook posts and forget about social media altogether. At least one person needs to take ownership of your social media accounts and ensure that the tweets you send out are timely, non-offensive, and personalized when called for.

Further, many customers now expect prompt responses to customer service issues via Twitter. If no one is there to hear them, you can quickly make an anti-fan of your former follower.

Save Yourself AND Your Time

So what the answer to social media automation? The same answer that most sane people will give you when you want to lose five pounds: moderation. You can and absolutely should set up social media automation. It will get you posting more and get your fans engaged. But you also can and should keep a human eye and a human touch in all your social media interactions. Respond personally and quickly when someone has a complaint or concern (or a compliment! we love compliments). And keep room in your timeline for content you may want to post on the fly -- whether you've got something (relevant) to say about a trend or news story or you just have something to say, period. Don't let your automation tools scare you away from posting straight to your social media platform of choice.

When you use social media automation in conjunction with good old fashion marketing and customer service tactics, you'll be well on your way to generating all kinds of social media results.

The ManoByte team is at INBOUND2014 this week!

Today's post was inspired by Jonathan Beamer and Nigel Jacob's Tuesday panel entitled The Human Side of Paid Social. Be sure to tweet us @ManoByte if you want to connect in Boston!