Be Social: Social Media – an Automated Approach vs. the Human Touch

Automation makes a social media manager’s life so much easier. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I am a big Hootsuite user and this allows you to enter Tweets on Twitter (or status updates on Facebook and LinkedIn) and set the time you want them to be sent out. Most blogging platforms allow you to schedule a post to go live at a certain time as well (WordPress offers this functionality perfectly). This has been invaluably useful to me (and saved me staying awake across numerous time zones), especially when I’ve been working in roles that require lots of interaction all across EMEA, APAC and North America.

One thing is worth bearing in mind though – whereas automated tools aid you in this way, they are solely for publishing content, be it a tweet, a status update, or a blog.  They don’t allow you to engage in conversation.  Therefore it is imperative to strike up that balance between being social and engaging, and being automated.

I had a recent issue with a well-known international airline regarding customer service, which I chose to bring to their attention via my personal Twitter account. I received an automated reply within minutes saying a customer service representative would contact me regarding my issues. Great start I thought. However I waited, and waited and waited and never heard a thing – which essentially just added to my gripes about the service I had received, and I brought this up later when I chased them (via the old school telephone/call centre method). So if you make promises via automated replies, make sure they are promises you can actually keep!

The trick is finding the balance between what you are able to offer and reflecting this in the automated replies you have set up. If you don’t have the manpower to quickly dispatch a customer service representative to every tweet query that comes in, then don’t pretend or state that you are going to. Be realistic and manage the customer’s expectations – and they will appreciate being kept in the loop.

In conclusion, automation is an extremely helpful and useful tool for publishing material at a time that suits you – but don’t let it get in the way of properly engaging and communicating with your customers.