Marketing Automation Can Be the Secret Ingredient in Your Social Media Recipe
Social media engagement is a crucial part of any marketing strategy. It’s also one of the areas in which marketing automation could be most helpful to you. That might seem counterintuitive to some. We know the best corporate users on social media platforms respond in real-time to customers questions, concerns,or good-natured whimsy.
In today’s business landscape, if you want to advance your brand and remain competitive, there’s no getting around that your customers expect you to have an active presence on social media. But not every company has the resources to employ the staff needed monitor and post content 24/7.
Why It’s Crucial Your Company Get Social Media Right
Consumers look to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other channels not only as sources of information from your company — special offers, new product announcements, news, etc. — but as channels for giving you product feedback, for redressing complaints, and for asking questions.
Moreover, social media channels now function like official spokespeople. They’re the company’s digital embodiments; they’re the voices of brands. They’re the “faces” customers relate to.
Unfortunately, not all companies see that.
“Too often, a brand will treat social media like they would treat their personal social media profiles – haphazardly and, even worse, as an afterthought,” wrote LinkedIn Pulse contributor and social marketing writer Kelsey Dixon.
“Before you begin posting on behalf of a brand, it is crucial to pinpoint the voice and purpose behind your content/messaging,” Dixon wrote.
Indeed, just as businesses need to audition and rigorously vet their spokespeople before shooting TV commercials, recording radio spots, developing print pieces, and deploying campaigns, they now also need to carefully cultivate the voices behind their social media channels.
Why? Because a single post can either build your customers’ trust or destroy it.
Social media errors don’t just turn off your potential customers — they shake confidence in your already-established consumer base. They turn advocates into doubters. They turn influencers into bandwagon bailers.
Social media saves do just the opposite. They make fans out of haters. They give people a reason to believe — and to tell their friends.
Companies need thoughtful brains and steady hands poised at the keyboard, 24/7, ready to respond to any crisis in customers’ faith — no matter how large or small the crisis may initially seem — because transparent responsiveness builds trust.
That’s where marketing automation can help you.
Social Media’s 3 Posting Tiers
Wait, responsiveness can’t be automated, can it?
Not entirely, but there are three tiers, if you will, of social media post — strategic, tactical, and consumer care — and automation can help in all three. Let’s look at each in turn and see where automation makes the most sense.
Tier 1: Strategic Posts
The most effective marketers plan their social media strategy months in advance. They build integrated marketing campaigns, using social to turn up the gain on other channels’ volume and to reinforce their messaging.
They carefully craft on-point messages that inspire consumers to explore more and to reach out with questions. They write and post out inbound blogs that tie into their quarterly or annual sales campaigns. They share relevant articles from outside influencers.
Such posts should steer traffic toward your brand influencers, then ultimately back to your portal.
For any post directly related to an integrated marketing campaign, marketers know what they’ll be talking about and when they’ll be talking about it. Strategic posts provide the basic engagement framework.
Thus, they lend themselves well to marketing automation. Marketers can use automation software to schedule days, weeks or months in advance, according to a campaign’s intended length and structure and to best practices for reaching your audience online.
Automating your strategic posts relieves your social media strategists and specialists of some of the day-to-day scut work that prevents them from effectively monitoring your company’s feeds. You’ll see why that’s mission critical in a moment.
Tier 2: Tactical Posts
Around strategic posts, companies must weave tactical posts. These are reactive, on-brand messages that reflect the news of the day and attempt to tap into trends and hashtag waves or one-off posts we send out when inspiration strikes.
Tactical posts can’t be planned too far in advance, though they can be scheduled in advance, and they take a certain amount of news monitoring to create.
They can be used to advance your company’s social media strategy. They can harness derivative market energies to widen your sales funnel. And they can capitalize on mass movement mentality, directing attention (within the bounds of a growing trend) back to your company’s campaign.
Tactical posts represent a mushy boundary layer between planned marketing and public relations; they serve both ends.
Tier 3: Consumer Care Posts
On the other hand, consumer care posts — the third tier — are neither strategic nor tactical. They live strictly in-the-moment; they can’t be planned, must be crafted on the fly and must be relatively immediate to be effective.
There are two subsets of consumer care post: the reactive and the proactive. You must have the capacity to create the former. You’re living right if you devote resources to create the latter.
Reactive posts are mostly geared toward routine customer service. A customer tweets a question, and you answer it. A customer engages your brand with good-natured, low-risk banter, and you engage him or her in it, to the delight of your audience.
But they’re also deployed as service recovery. A customer publicly vents a frustration or identifies a shortcoming. Your social media specialists should be actively monitoring social platforms to find and respond to such opportunities before they grow into firestorms.
Although some marketing software — mention monitors, hashtag crawlers, and the like — can help your specialists spot potential problems in real-time, automation can’t help you craft responses.
Indeed, bot-generated responses often worsen burgeoning customer service mishaps; they’re the social media equivalent of “Please stay on the line. Your call is important to us.” No one likes to be on the receiving end of corporate lip service. That demands they not be tied down in creating and manually posting out campaign-specific material.
Proactive posts demand even more time and attention, but arguably might bring your company the most bang for its labor buck. A company that has the time to engage consumers on their own digital ground must surely be well-organized and well-run. That’s a company consumers will feel like they can trust.
Use marketing automation to free up your team members to the point they can look for engagement opportunities, start conversations online, cultivate a follower base and track your audience.