One of the golden rules of social media success is to share content consistently to keep fans and followers interested in your brand. If you have a finger on the pulse of their needs, challenges and preferences, you can pick content ideas more thoughtfully. Once you have a list of topic or themes, the next big task is to start writing or creating, depending on whether you want to post articles, infographics or videos.
Though this may sound easy on paper, in reality, there is a lot of work to do. Identifying the most relevant topical issues of interest to your audience is time-consuming. Your content should deliver value, and that can happen only when you are providing actionable information, curating and presenting data for one-stop consumption, discussing new perspectives or possibilities that help people form opinions or expand perspectives, or showcasing your brand’s creative thinking that reinforces your unique capability.
The overarching goal is to build trust: you want your customers to stick around and become brand ambassadors, and encourage leads to give your product/service a try. Consistent, high quality content compels people to take action and once they’re ‘in’, you have a lot more leverage to persuade, make a sale, cross-sell, upsell and more.
Of course, you cannot offer a sub-standard product/service and expect only your content to do all the work for you. But as popular wisdom dictates, even the best product can’t sell itself and you need marketing chops to drive sales. For the modern marketer, social media marketing is an important vehicle that generates sales. When your SMM strategy revolves around engaging content, you create the foot-in-the-door (FITD) opportunity more easily.
According to the FITD principle, you first start by asking for something small; if they heed your first request, they are likely to respond to your subsequent bigger request. Content gets your foot in the door, builds the initial bonds of trust, and helps move prospects down the sales funnel.
Businesses that have invested in content marketing understand the benefits that automation can deliver. A tool that finds relevant content – effectively doing the job of a social media assistant or intern or easing the stress of a social media manager or the sole marketer managing all the marketing for a start-up – is always welcome. It saves time, keeps social media pages up-to-date, prevents marketers or SMB owners from overburdening themselves, and enables teams to improve their output.
I’ll plug in our excellent content discovery and scheduling tool DrumUp here: the app keeps your social accounts active when you’re offline, and its content discovery API assists with content ideas, updates you on theme-based stories on a daily basis, and even does a bit of brand monitoring based on the provided keywords. While DrumUp is currently being used by 30,000 companies (and counting), the landscape for social media and marketing automation tools has expanded and evolved dramatically over the past few years.
- 49% of companies use marketing automation software (Emailmonday).
- The marketing automation industry is expected to be worth $5.5 billion by 2019 (MarketsandMarkets).
- 74% of respondents who have adopted marketing automation state time savings as the biggest benefit, followed by increased customer engagement and timely communications (Adestra).
- Marketing automation boosts sales productivity by 14.5% and lowers marketing overhead by 12.2% (Nucleus Research).
- 78% of successful marketers credit marketing automation as one of the leading contributors of revenue improvement (The Lenskold Group).
Marketing automation is beneficial, essential even, but it cannot – by itself – deliver the results you seek.
Social media automation mistakes to avoid
1. Not having a social media plan: What is the purpose of subscribing to an automation tool? How will posting consistent content on Facebook or Twitter support your business goals? A tactical approach to automation is necessary, where you measure how it has impacted social media activity on your pages and how increased engagement has led to website traffic, inquiries, lead generation and sales.
If social media analytics reveals that automation has had minimal impact on conversions or the specific goal(s) envisioned by you, you will need to evaluate what is missing and what you may be doing wrong. If you see a noticeable improvement in fan/follower engagement and a boost in inquiries, downloads or sales, then you can conclude that your automation plan is working well.
2. Forgoing creativity and story-telling altogether: A Facebook marketing tool can fill up your content calendar but it should be supplemented from time to time with original brand content. Squeeze a few minutes each week or month to create content that tells your brand’s larger story and enables you to connect more intimately with your community. It can be a personal message, a poll or competition, behind-the-scenes look at your office, community campaign – there are several ways to communicate an authentic, unique brand with its own set of values and goals.
3. Not reviewing scheduled messages: Skim through the articles being shared by your automation tool to verify if they meet your quality standards. Also keep track of the performance of your scheduled messages to understand which ones are resonating more with your audience.
4. Not personalizing your scheduled messages: It takes a few minutes to add a personal touch to messages. Maybe you can link out to a page on your website, add a photo or graphics created by your team, or add a line or phrase to increase the ‘human element’ of posts. These adjustments need to be done by you or your team or else your social media pages will start looking impersonal and boring.
5. Forgetting to be part of conversations: An automation tool can help you communicate with authority, curate content, and build a content library for future use. It cannot converse with your audience or make you an instant influencer. There is no substitute to starting or participating in conversations on hot button topics, trends and the most-discussed news in your industry.
No matter how busy you may be, devote 10-15 minutes each day replying to fans’/followers’ comments, retweeting their best posts, and offering your insights or experiences on a key issue (especially if you’re a B2B company).
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