Social Automation Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

There’s a bit of an automation craze going on these days, and for good reason. There is no shortage of options for automating your marketing efforts, and doing so provides a wealth of benefits. You can automate lead nurturing, email marketing, social media, and pretty much anything else you can think of. But before you jump headfirst into every automation tool out there, step back, take a deep breath, and make sure you’re not rushing into them without considering the consequences.

84% of B2B companies use social media, and a growing number are automating their social efforts (Aberdeen). Social automation can help you share your most popular content more often, allow you to crowdsource content from others, and (perhaps most notably) save your marketing team tons of time. The ability to schedule posts is a huge upside to social automation, saving precious time and allowing posts to go out around the clock. Another benefit of automation is the capability to link social posts to your marketing campaigns. This allows you to see which of your prospects interact with your posts and how many leads your social media campaigns are creating.

That being said, relying exclusively on social automation is a grave mistake for the modern B2B marketer. When you’re deciding on a social media strategy, make sure you’re not making any of these cringeworthy automation mistakes.

Sending automated direct messages on Twitter

We’ve written before about how frustrating it is to receive promotional DMs masquerading as personalized messages from brands. An automated marketing pitch with a follower’s name in it is still just that: an unsolicited marketing pitch. If you must send automated DMs, provide your followers with content they’ll find useful, not a request that they download your app or follow you on Facebook.

And then there’s this scenario I’m sure you know all too well: you try to follow someone only to get a direct message from a bot asking you to verify that you are not a bot. Ah, the irony. When I get those messages, I immediately hit unfollow. Services like TrueTwit Validation get a pretty bad rap, but for some reason thousands of marketers still use these spammy DMs to save them from manually blocking spam accounts. While you may save time using a service like this, you will certainly lose trust—and followers.

Posting to multiple channels simultaneously

Because each social platform is so different, automatically posting the same content to multiple sites usually won’t look so great. Character limits, the use of hashtags, and the ability to tag other pages or accounts vary from platform to platform, so formatting generally doesn’t translate well. It’s not always bad to cross-post, though. If you have a simple text update without hashtags or images, there’s nothing wrong with posting to multiple channels at once.

Automatically retweeting or replying to users

This practice has fallen somewhat out of vogue in recent years, but I still see the occasional business automatically retweeting or replying to anyone who mentions them or uses a branded hashtag. As the New England Patriots learned the hard way last Thursday, this can be a terrible idea. The folks in charge of the football team’s official Twitter account made the mistake of automatically generating digital jerseys with fans’ Twitter handles on them. The campaign sounds harmless, and it got great feedback—until people noticed the account had automatically tweeted a jersey featuring a racial slur. They apologized, but the damage was done. Let’s all learn from their mistake and stick to replies from real humans whenever possible.

A less perilous but still unfortunate mistake is when a brand retweets its mentions. I’ve seen companies unknowingly retweet negative mentions, which does not inspire much confidence in their brand. Even if retweets are filtered for negative and inappropriate words, it comes across as boastful to repost every positive thing someone says about your company. It’s best to stick to having an actual employee retweet only the best of the best brand mentions.

As long as you avoid these regrettable errors, automation can be a boon to your social media marketing strategy. Now we’d like to hear from you, marketers. Have you ever made one of these mistakes? Did we miss a social automation “don’t” that makes you cringe? Let us know in the comments.