A lot of social media purists will tell you that you’re the spawn of the devil if you use automation.

To truly use social media properly, you have to “be there” constantly, otherwise you’re just fooling yourself and your connections.

Bullshit.

Maybe to the purists that are on Twitter and Facebook non-stop, and love to tweet just for the sake of getting influence scores up, automation is evil. After all, they’re on there doing their “thing” all the time, so why shouldn’t you be?

Simple.

The people that aren’t on Twitter and Facebook all the time are generally doing other things. You know… like client work. Yes, they’ll jump on and interact, but usually that’s when the other important stuff is done.

So forgive me if I see folks tell me automation is bad. If I’m going to share a blog post anyway by someone that I truly trust to deliver the goods, why do I need to physically be on Twitter to do this when I can send the same post out with something like Triberr or Twitterfeed?

What’s that? Because I’m not being true to social media and its values? Give me a break, please.

Social media is just another toolset, or platform, or information base, or whatever tag you want to give it, to help you manage your needs better, whether they be personally or professionally.

It works for people the way they need it to work, not how someone else uses it.

If you don’t like automation for yourself because you’re on social media 24/7 doing whatever it is you do, cool – that’s your approach and that’s what works for you, and I won’t hold anything against you for that.

Maybe you can offer the same courtesy to those that aren’t like you. I mean, does it really impact you anyway?

image: Chuckumentary

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Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.

113 comments
Ryan Critchett
Ryan Critchett

I agree on many levels, provided you're not auto tweeting articles that's content goes completely against your philosophies. That might make you like like a real awesome schmuck! LOL Triberr is probably the best tool around for automation, specifically because you can set up your own tribes and know exactly what kind of stuff you're auto tweeting. I think a good balance is the answer for some. I certainly spend a lot of time on Twitter engaging, because connection and responsiveness is totally king in a transparent world. At any rate, great post, as usual.

Aaron Eden
Aaron Eden

There's nothing wrong with the social media automation, just do it correctly! It is actually a saving grace for busy-people out there. Automate plus interact is a great combination, I think.

Debbie Horovitch
Debbie Horovitch

The problem is twofold I think: 1. Time & SM-skills-strapped business owners often hope & think automation tools can replace thier own human touch, time and attention on the community. It can only add to your efforts, to grow your business further. 2. These days I'm feeling the weight of my SM perspective: there is no end to the amount of time, effort & caring resources a business could allocate to relationships with customers and would-be customers. Adding more people, expertise and budget will help, when it's the right people ~

Bryony Thomas
Bryony Thomas

I think the problem exists when people get this out of balance. I don't think automation is the "spawn of the devil", but neither is it the answer to all your prayers. As with any tool, it's how you use it that matters. If all your social media is automated, you look like a bit of a robot, but if you're constantly online it's likely that you don't really have a life (or a business). Balance is the key. I recently blogged on where I think automation is great, and where I think it should be avoided: http://www.clear-thought.co.uk/in_thought/art/95/social-media-marketing-automation/

Chris Lucas
Chris Lucas

I totally agree that there is nothing wrong with a little automation when it comes to Twitter... actually I believe it's a smart move particularly for time poor small business owners. If the technology is there why not take advantage of it and use it to help you manage the marketing component of your business in the same way we take advantage of email marketing (just like you said).

Sure there are some people who take it to the extreme but then there are others who use it beautifully and they are able to leverage their Twitter time allowing more time for them to engage with their followers.

Thank you for sharing your smart insight into the smart use of automation.

Gabrielle
Gabrielle

Thank you! Well said, Danny. Automation saves so much time for me. I just bought Tweet Adder and have been playing with the features. It's helped me add over 200 targeted followers in the past week and has more features to automate tweets.

It's still me posting, I'm just setting it up in advance. I still check my account mentions and carry on real time conversation with people. Automation makes all the in-between stuff easier so I don't have to stay on Twitter 14 hours a day.

Michelle Mangen
Michelle Mangen

Danny - thank you for writing this post. This is a subject that I can get "riled" up about quite easily. I read a post last week (or week before) where the blog author suggested that by automating your Twitter account you are basically cutting your own throat. I disagree for numerous reasons (which deserves it's own blog post).

In my opinion it all boils down to this:
As long as the tools we chose to automate are not entirely replacing actual interactions then those tools are only supplementing our efforts and allowing each individual to manage their social media in the way they feel is best.

I echo your closing line RE....respect for the "one size does not fit all" approach is necessary.

Alt2Att
Alt2Att

I agree wholeheartedly. If you're spending all of your time on Twitter and Facebook, who's providing the customer service?

Dennis Jenders
Dennis Jenders

It's not often that I am compelled to comment, but in my opinion you have completely missed the mark.

There certainly is room for automation. Scheduling tweets or Facebook posts across a variety of clients is almost required if you have a small social media team.

However, if the content is just a scrubbed list of links or stories from an RSS feed or elsewhere, that is when I worry about automation.

These channels are not just about broadcasting a message, it should be about engagement and creating more value around a topic through conversation.

I don't buy into influence scores, Klout or other similar services. And I can tell that you value interaction as you've commented on nearly every comment on this post.

It's hard to tell exactly what automation you are talking about. But those folks that continue to blast out stories and links that are not curated remind me of a newspaper without an editor. And if you are not engaging on the backend with your audience I would assume your followers and created community have little value.

Tom Pick
Tom Pick

I agree with Eric's statement: "A little automation can be just what some people may need." The danger with automation is that it makes broadcasting too easy, and then gets over-used. There's nothing wrong with automating certain tasks at certain times (e.g. so you don't need to separately submit your latest blog post on each social media site), but it can't substitute for interaction completely.

Are you automating your replies to every comment on this post? Of course not - wouldn't work. Automation has its place, but can't replace genuine interaction, the "social" part of social media.

billy
billy

This makes sense. Now to figure out how to make sense of this for me! Thanks Danny. Billy

billy
billy

This makes sense.
Now to figure out how to make sense of this for me!
Thanks Danny.
Billy

billy
billy

This makes sense.
Now to figure out how to make sense of this for me!
Thanks Danny.
Billy

Vizz Media
Vizz Media

Sorry Danny, we have to disagree with you. Social Media is not just about posting content. What more important is the the audience engagement aroung that piece of content. Social Media is all about active human participation. It's not necessary to spend your whole day just tweeting and posting on your facebook. Its quality which matters, not quantity. May be you just tweet two or three times per day. But if you are tweeting quality material, even those few tweets can bring you hundreds of followers.Social Media efforts can't be successful without human participation. Its very important to activate our fans rather than collecting them like baseball cards. And to make that happen, human participation is a must.

http://www.facebook.com/vizzmedia
http://twitter.com/vizzmedia

Erica Allison
Erica Allison

Hi Danny,
If I didn't schedule my tweets in advance, I'd never get any work done and my business would suffer. I hop in and out of twitter throughout the day, but can't sit there in front of the screen just hanging on every tweet that comes through the stream. Great for folks who do!

As someone was in Triberr but no longer is, I had issues with automated tweets from folks I didn't know or had never read. Now that Dan and Dino have made some HUGE corrections (manual mode being one of them), I'm likely going to jump back in as it did increase my traffic dramatically.

Tools are meant to help us and are purely dependent on each individual's needs, goals and timing. Use what works for you and don't worry about the rest of the world! Cheers!

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

I've always scheduled tweets and now I'm using Triberr. I've been VERY careful to make sure my tribes are people whose stuff I read and tweet anyway. I wouldn't want to be in a tribe with bloggers I didn't already have a relationship with or would be out of character if I tweeted their stuff.

What this allows me to do is interact and have conversations with people, when I am on Twitter, instead of trying to find stuff to tweet. I'll be honest, Triberr at first felt really icky to me. But, as you well know, Dino and Dan have spent a lot of time and effort making it comfortable. Plus, I haven't done a stats dig yet, but I'm pretty sure it's helped our traffic and pageviews, which are two big, big goals for us.

So, I get why the purists think it's baloney. But I'm with you. I'm in meetings all day, every Monday, with zero time to be on Twitter except early in the morning or late at night. But I also don't want to miss out on the benefits Twitter brings my business. So I schedule and automate to keep things newsworthy and fresh for those who follow me.

Bill Lublin
Bill Lublin

Danny; I both agree and disagree with you - When I think of automation I think of people who are sending out links or information with little or no thought for their "communities" - and that stuff I hate.
On the other hand, what you describe is a use of technology to schedule your message for greatest impact something I'm totally in favor of - I don;t want to miss reading what you have to share, so you're helping me out when you send it at a time that increases my chances of seeing :)
Anyway, having taken both sides of the argument - I'm done now - thanks so much for sharing :)

Fran Aslam From Onlinewriter
Fran Aslam From Onlinewriter

I do not believe in automation. But then I am not able to connect everyday. So, doing so many things at one time, in one day, either, miss tweeting or automate. Seeing the importance of social media, it is better to automate. But then again, I love to pass my current feeling, welcome, and information all other feelings. So,finally, my personal touch is very important to me to connect. I will continue connecting directly, no automation.

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

Hi Danny,

Personally, I hope there never comes a time when I sit in front of a computer solely watching social media applications. That would drive me up the wall.

I wish I could spend more time, but hey, I'll take what I can get - because my other time is spent working!

I wasn't really aware of the "social acceptance" of automation for social media - but if you say it's cool - then I'm sold! And frankly, without automation, I'd be lost at times.

Tia Peterson
Tia Peterson

Hello Danny!

I use Twitterfeed and Triberr, AND I am on Twitter by way of HootSuite basically whenever I am online. Like Hessie, I manage accounts for others and there is no way I would ever be able to get around to tweeting all the great stuff out there if I didn't have a little bit of automation set up.

I should also say that I've recently started using Tweet Old Post, which is yet another form of automation, and it's brilliant. New readers are getting to read some of the old posts, leaving comments, etc. Works like a charm.

Again, I'm on Twitter "live" so much that I don't feel the slightest tinge of guilt using automation to do my favorite bloggers a favor or tweet old stuff from time to time.

Billy Gee
Billy Gee

WOW! Something brought on that topic. Sounds like something or someone specifically got under your skin. So happens, YOUR RIGHT! It should be called "Whatever floats your boat MEDIA!" Who gives a hoot what anyone does with their slice of the pie. If it bothers you, don't "LIKE" or "Follow" or "Request" or anything else!

Unfortunately, one of these fools works with me. He is one of our most valued employees too!He thinks it's "unethical" to use automation tools in social media...I guess every significant business and non-profit organization in the SMedia world lacks ethics. I argued that even a live person, a hired hand, on the clock, whos job is to post on a FB page or Twitter is an automation tool! Just ridiculous

Janet Callaway
Janet Callaway

Danny, aloha. If one of the arguments against automation is:

"Because I’m not being true to social media and its values?"

then what about the part of social media where you bring value to your followers?

This is not a shameless plug for Triberr rather it is a mere statement of fact. Danny, because of Triberr my followers now have the opportunity to meet some amazing people and read their incredible blogs. The value that I am giving to them has both breadth and depth.

Well said, my friend. Enjoy a spectacular weekend. Aloha. Janet

Brankica
Brankica

Hey Danny, although I am against automation in sense of auto follows and auto DMs, I love there two ways of automation and I have my Twitter set up to that for me. I agree with you!

Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion
Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion

OK, so let me get this straight...You're saying that it's OK that I promote others and make money at the same time with my clients?? What??? Are you a friggin moron?!! ;-)

Well said DB, well said.

Marcus

Mimi Meredith
Mimi Meredith

Thank you for this "liberating" perspective. I am not sure I think of myself as a purist, but I think I work too hard to be true to my sense of authenticity, which includes "being here" in person. I suppose it won't matter how blessedly authentic I might be if no one gets to know me because I don't establish the connection opportunities at times convenient to them (and, as you point out, I do other things...and I am on Pacific Time, which means I miss a lot of "peak" time in others lives.) Okay, note to self, Monday: Automate.

Danny
Danny

Hey there Ryan, And that's the thing - balance. It's like anything - video games versus family time; reading versus blogging; diet versus beer and pizza. We can do both - just get the mix right. :)

Danny
Danny

Your phrase here hits the nail on the head, Aaron: "It is actually a saving grace for busy-people out there. Not everyone can pay the bills by being awesome on Twitter... ;-) Great avatar, by the way!

Danny
Danny

That's the thing, Debbie - it's all well and good if you want to spend all day on Facebook and Twitter, and pretend you're successful. But if you want to pay the bills and service your clients, there's no way you can scale in the ways you need to without automation.

Danny
Danny

Exactly, Bryony - it is all about balance, and I think the ones that do it well are the ones that can see automation is a plus, not a minus. ;)

Danny
Danny

Great point, Chris.

It's great if you're a Dell or a Jetblue, with tons of folks on your social accounts.

But if you're Johnny Hamburger store owner, there are only so many hours in the day you can realistically allocate to manually update.

So does that mean you shouldn't share offers or promotions when you're not there? It's like saying you can't run TV or radio ads overnight when you're closed for the next day's sales... ;-)

Danny
Danny

Hey there Gabrielle,

Checked out TweetAdder for a client and, while I'm generally not a fan of automated following, it's definitely one of the better options out there for targeting.

Like you say, it's still you at the end of the day, and that's the main difference between this kind of automation, and crazy spam botting. :)

Danny
Danny

Hi there Michelle,

I think I saw that post(or one like it) and I couldn't help but think, "No, a bloody sharp knife will cut your throat. Automation, though? Don't think so." ;-)

Like you say, there are varying levels of automation (as per the discussion on your Facebook wall) and each has pros and cons. But for me, the pros to the kind of automation in this post far outweigh the cons, and is what makes it such a valid approach (for me, anyhoo).

Cheers for your thoughts, Michelle, always appreciated. :)

Danny
Danny

Hi Dennis,

Automation as in my response to Jeff:

http://dannybrown.me/2011/04/08/social-media-automation/#comment-43338

Perhaps I should have made it clearer in the post about when automation works.

The thing is, news feeds and links work well for a news feed account, or a stock/traders account, or similar.

It all boils down to goals and needs. At the end of the day, the community determines if there's value in the approach you use - if they don't like, they won't follow that feed.

Danny
Danny

Hi Tom,

Agree - although I've seen plenty of manual feeds where there's nothing but broadcasting... ;-)

At the end of the day, it comes down to the curator as opposed to the method. And we can always choose not to follow the curator. ;-)

Danny
Danny

Agreed, just blasting out content for content's sake can become annoying.

But then you have to look at the bigger picture - does a news feed need human participation, or can that just be for updates and alerts?

Does a movie showtime feed need human interaction, or can that just have the latest times and special showings for moviegoers?

There's a time and place for everything, and automation has its time and place alongside human interaction.

Cheers!

Danny
Danny

Hey there Erica,

Yep, I hear you on how automation can sometimes send stuff out you wouldn't want to share normally, and it was one of the points that was raised in a group email exchange with various Triberrs. Like you say, great to see both Dan and Dino listening and improving the experience. :)

And yes, the rest of the world will still go on about its merry business whether you're part of it or not. ;-)

Danny
Danny

That's the thing, Gini - I'm going to share stuff by you, because I trust you and know you've got business smarts that my connections will appreciate.

Same goes for Marcus Sheridan, Ingrid Abboud, Troy Claus, Jim Connolly and many others. So if I'd automatically share your content anyway, where's the big deal in making it one less thing to eat into my time?

And I find it funny that a lot of the purists that are complaining are the ones that I wonder how they ever get work done... ;-)

Danny
Danny

Hi there Bill,

Completely agree, mate (in hindsight, I probably should have said as much in the post, hehe).

I'm all for manual interaction (and try to make sure I do that as much as possible) - just sometimes it's not always feasible, and I think that's where (smart) automation comes in.

Cheers, sir, hope you're having a great weekend!

Danny
Danny

Hi Fran,

And that's the beauty - there's no right or wrong approach. You can either be there, miss out, or automate. They all work, and they all have their pros and cons - you just need to choose which one is best for you.

Cheers!

Danny
Danny

Hey there Jk,

It's like you say, mate - you make the best use of your time where it needs to be at that given moment. If that means automating certain things, is that really any worse than missing out because you couldn't do something manually?

Cheers, mate, always a pleasure having you over here. :)

Danny
Danny

Hi there Tia,

Funnily enough, this post was kinda sparked by someone complaining about Tweet Old Post online. Like you say, it helps new readers find old posts, and where's the harm in that?

I think a lot of the folks that complain about this kind of automation are missing a far bigger picture. Then again, we all use the tools differently and we all have the audiences that prefer each approach - so all good at the end of the day. ;-)

Danny
Danny

Hey there Billy,

"Whatever floats your boat media' - ha, LOVE it! :)

That's a great point you raise about hiring someone to run your social media outreach - if you're not doing it yourself manually, it's automation. So where does the argument come in if the person you've hired is the most interactive person in the history of interaction? ;-)

And yes... there was a specific tweet from a well-known user who has taken it upon himself to be the "voice of how Twitter should be used." ;-)

Danny
Danny

That's a great point, Janet - give me someone that automates quality content to be shared over a manual bland approach any time.

And yes, Triberr is really great for helping more bloggers get a wider audience - which is never a bad thing.

Have a spectacular weekend yourself, miss. :)

Danny
Danny

Yep, not a huge fan of these types of automation, Brankica, but otherwise - knock yourself out. :)

Danny
Danny

I know - imagine that, looking after clients will potentially helping others find some. Shocking!!! ;-)

Danny
Danny

Hey there Mimi,

That's the thing that I question the most for non-automated approaches. I get that people feel it's impersonal; but is it any less impersonal than making all your core messages available for just the people in your timezone?

I'm not too sold on that... ;-)

Michelle Mangen
Michelle Mangen

Danny - I suspect we are speaking about the same post. If someone opts to not follow me because of my decision to use some automation that's fine. I'm a big enough girl to realize that I can't please everyone and at the end of the day as long as I am not harming anyone or being malicious I can still sleep at night. :-)

Michelle Mangen
Michelle Mangen

Danny - I suspect we are speaking about the same post. If someone opts to not follow me because of my decision to use some automation that's fine. I'm a big enough girl to realize that I can't please everyone and at the end of the day as long as I am not harming anyone or being malicious I can still sleep at night. :-)

Tia Peterson
Tia Peterson

Interesting! I wonder if the annoyance comes from the theory that Twitter is for news only...

Food for thought. I am of the same mind as you - I'm at peace with the way people use Twitter and hopefully they are at peace with my usage as well! The easy way to fix that is to hit the unfollow button! :)

Cheers,
Tia

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