What Is Social Media Automation? [FAQs & Time-Saving Tools]
Social media automation is using software tools to reduce the amount of time spent on social media tasks that don’t require a human touch.
Creating, posting, and analyzing content across so many touchpoints can take an overwhelming amount of time. Unless, of course, you engage in some social media automation
We’re not talking about bots here. We’re talking about using social media automation tools that benefit marketers and audiences alike. That means reducing the time spent on repetitive tasks, decreasing response time, and giving you the time and data you need to create more engaging content.
Bonus: Get a free social media strategy templateto quickly and easily plan your own strategy. Also use it to track results and present the plan to your boss, teammates, and clients.
What is social media automation?
Social media automation is the process of reducing the manual labor required to manage social media accounts by using automation software.
Automating post scheduling, basic customer service, and producing analytics reports can free up hours of time for social media managers to work on higher-level tasks.
What are the benefits of social media automation?
The major benefits that social media automation can provide are:
Reduction in the time required to create and schedule social media posts
Reduced customer service response time
Increased data collection for analytical reporting and decision-making
Increased brand awareness and engagement
How much does social media automation cost?
The price for social media automation can run the gamut from free to 1,000’s of dollars per month. The cost all depends on your needs!
At Hootsuite, we have a range of plans that go from literally nothing, all the way up to $739 USD per month.
You need to answer a few questions to determine your automation needs:
Do you need to schedule posts in advance?
Need help responding to and managing comments, chats, and interactions?
How in-depth are your reporting needs?
Is managing large campaigns across multiple networks an issue you’ll face?
Once you have those answers, the final pricing factor is considering which social media networks are you using.
Some automation tools are specific to certain networks, while others (usually the more expensive ones) support multiple platforms.
After going through all of that, let’s be clear: Not all social media tasks can or should be automated.
This may sound obvious, but you should avoid any automation tactic that makes your brand look lazy, spammy, or fake.
For instance, paid bots that like, follow and comment are painfully obvious to savvy social media users. However, some #goodbots can provide helpful information to followers.
The key is to use smart social media automation in ways that help, rather than hurt, your credibility and online relationships.
Let’s take a look at the kinds of automation that work and the kinds that should be left in the grimy corners of digital marketing.
How to use social media automation the right way
Here are some day-to-day tasks that are prime candidates for social media marketing automation.
We’ll show you some automated social media marketing software tools to help with all these tasks at the end of this post.
Scheduling and publishing
Logging in and out of different social accounts to publish multiple times per day can eat up a lot of time. Especially because the best time to post varies by platform.
This is a case where social media automation saves time and increases efficiency without reducing content quality. Dedicate a block of time to content creation. Then, use automated social media posting to schedule the appropriate post times on each network.
Data collection and reporting
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of marketers automate their marketing measurement and attribution. The remaining one-third are either:
missing out on key insights from marketing data, or…
…spending way too much time collecting and analyzing it manually.
Basic customer service
Automating customer interactions was one of the top use cases for marketing artificial intelligence tools in 2021. Yet, the Hootsuite Social Transformation Report found that only 13% of organizations increased their use of customer interaction automation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You don’t need a human team member to answer common questions like “What are your hours?” and “Do you have any coupons available?” Likewise, you can automate service requests related to package tracking, refund status, and other issues that are tied to your CRM.
Social monitoring and listening allow you to understand the social conversation about your brand, your industry, and your competitors. They provide valuable market research and business intelligence you can use to guide your social media strategy.
Manually seeking out relevant content in which you’re not directly tagged can be time-consuming. So, it’s a good idea to put an automated social listening strategy in place.
Social ads management
To get the most from your social ads budget, you need to:
Automating these time-consuming tasks frees you up to dedicate more time to crafting great copy and other advertising assets.
The DONTs of social media automation
DON’T use spammy bots
The number one lesson here is to use bots for good, not evil. Embrace bots that help make customers’ lives better as well as your own.
AI chatbots that speed up customer service response times? Great. An inbox to manage DMs, comments, and tags from multiple networks in one place? Excellent.
But bots that automatically comment on or like social posts? Not such a good idea. They can cause lasting damage to your relationships with your audience. They can also land you in hot water with the social networks themselves.
Some tools (including social media platforms themselves) offer you the option to automatically cross-post to other platforms. Don’t be tempted.
Social platforms have different image display ratios and word count allowances. Audiences on those different platforms have different expectations, demographics, and word preferences. It’s highly unlikely one post will meet all those various requirements and expectations.
Instead, take the extra time to adjust your message for each platform’s audience. At the bare minimum, you’ll want to check and adjust:
Your vocabulary (i.e., retweet vs. regram vs. share)
Instead of cross-posting, use automated social media publishing at set times to use your time most efficiently.
DON’T “set it and forget it”
Bulk scheduling to automate your social media posts is a great way to use social media automation to increase efficiency. However, it’s important to keep an eye on your publishing schedule and make any adjustments required in real-time.
World-changing crises happen all the time on social media, and a poorly timed post can make your brand look out-of-touch or tactless.
So, batch-schedule your posts, but know what’s happening internally and out in the world. Be prepared to pause, reschedule, or cancel upcoming social posts and campaigns as events require.
DON’T babysit your ads
Ads cost money, and poorly optimized ads cost more money. The added pressure of a diminishing budget can make it tough to tear yourself away from your ads dashboards. But ads are so data-driven that automation is often the best strategy.
One of the easiest shortcuts is to use a tool (like, for instance, Hootsuite Boost) to automatically promote top-performing organic content. If you have a home-run post on your hands, throw some dollars at it to give it the best chance of snowballing. Hootsuite Boost automates that trigger so it happens whether you’re at your desk staring at it, or not.
This is our favorite social media scheduling tool for obvious reasons. It features a “Best Time to Publish” feature that suggests the best time to post for your audience. It allows you to post more, high-quality content in less time.
When you have solid data about what works for your brand, social media marketing gets a bit less scary. It also becomes more effective and produces better ROI.
Most social platforms offer native analytics tools. But it can be a huge drain on your time to analyze each platform separately and compile manual reports.
Automated, customized social media reporting through Hootsuite Analyze allows you to measure your content performance as often as you like. You’ll get real-time updates and high-level overviews for quarterly or annual reviews.
Customer interactions for service and social commerce
Hootsuite Inbox allows you to manage conversations and mentions across all of your social platforms from one dashboard. You can also use the Saved Replies feature to automatically address common interactions.
This tool helps automate social listening, with instant analysis of social conversations in real-time. It provides alerts of spikes in social conversation or sentiment. This automatically informs you of potential crises or viral hits before they happen.
Hootsuite Social Advertising allows you to test hundreds of Facebook and Instagram ads, then automatically reallocate your budget to the best-performing ones. It ensures you’re targeting the right audiences with the right metrics for maximum ROI.
You can automatically boost your budget, or even start a new campaign, based on pre-set triggers. This tool will even provide daily automatic ad performance recommendations.
Finally, Hootsuite Social Advertising syncs your CRM or email list to your Facebook ad account, so you always have up-to-date custom audiences.
Lately is an AI copywriting tool. It studies your brand voice and your audience’s preferences to build a custom “writing model” for your brand (it accounts for your brand voice, sentence structure, and even keywords relevant to your online presence).
When you feed any text, image, or video content into Lately, the AI converts it into social media copy, reflecting your unique writing style. For example, if you upload a webinar into Lately, the AI will automatically transcribe it — and then create dozens of social posts based on the video content. All you have to do is review and approve your posts.
Lately integrates with Hootsuite, so once your posts are ready, you can schedule them for automatic publication with just a few clicks. Easy!