Juggling multiple social presences has become an expectation for modern brands. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. The list goes on and on.
As a result, marketers are scrambling for shortcuts to streamline their social presences and save time in the process. Given the rapid rise of social media automation, more and more brands are experimenting with the idea of putting their social channels on autopilot.
With Facebook standing tall as the most popular social network by far with over 2 billion monthly active users,, Facebook automation, in particular, is drawing a ton of attention. The concept of letting a service or software do the legwork for you when it comes to Facebook sounds enticing, but is it realistic? Is there more to the emerging trend of automation than meets the eye?
Below we’ve combed through the fine details of Facebook automation and what it could potentially mean for your brand and marketing efforts.
What Is Facebook Automation & How Does It Work?
While the concept of automation tends to freak some people out, you don’t need to worry about a robot takeover quite yet.
Automation simply refers to software or tools which rely on scripts or bots to take care of various marketing tasks, well, automatically. If you’ve ever received an email autoresponder, you’ve seen automation in action firsthand.
In the case of Facebook automation, we’re talking about tools that automate tasks such as:
- Leaving comments on statuses, images or pages
- Liking and sharing statuses, images or pages across your account(s)
- Inviting friends to specific pages or events en masse
- Accepting or rejecting all pending friend requests
These features of Facebook automation features might seem like game-changers at a glance. That said, there’s much more to automation than meets the eye.
As soon as you put your Facebook presence in the hands of a bot, you instantly give up the human element of your social marketing.
Sure, not having to focus on seemingly menial tasks such as “liking” posts might be a nice bonus. But is it worth having to play damage control when your bot accidentally “likes” an inappropriate image or starts spamming comments at random? Even when you’re dealing with bots and automation, there’s always some room for error.
For more background check out our complete guide to chatbots.
The Benefits of Facebook Automation
So why are some marketers relying on Facebook automation, anyway? What’s the appeal? The desire for automated tools is totally understandable given the potential benefits detailed below:
1. You Save Time
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of automation is that marketers can focus less on the “small stuff” and more on the big picture of their social marketing. Although tasks such as liking posts or leaving relevant comments are pieces of a well-oiled social presence, they don’t always represent your most prudent marketing tasks.
Through Facebook automation, marketers can focus more on promoting that killer piece of content or conducting outreach versus breaking their backs leaving comment after comment that may never actually be seen.
2. Your Brand Never Sleeps
Brands should respond to questions, comments and inquiries in a timely manner, regardless of industry or time zone. If you can’t get back to your commenters or critiques within a matter of hours, such inaction could translate to a lost customer or sales opportunity. The idea of automated responses is appealing to marketers who want their business to be “on” 24/7.
Our research found that consumers expect brands to reply within four hours on social, yet most brands take significantly longer.
You can see this sort of “mass reply” approach work for big brands like Domino’s who primarily deal with customer concerns around the clock (note the timestamps):
3. You Can Grow Your Follower Count
While there are many moving pieces of growing your Facebook presence, finding opportunities to engage your followers is an absolute must. Beyond sharing and replying to content to make a Facebook page more visible, automation helps create the illusion of a more active presence. Brands that post regularly and appear to connect with their followers are obviously poised for bigger numbers than a page gathering cobwebs.
However, Facebook automation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when you take a step back and examine the pitfalls.
The Drawbacks of Facebook Automation
Here’s the deal: Facebook automation, alongside most other services that put your social presence on autopilot, are still in their infant stages. They’re buggy. They don’t particularly align with Facebook’s best practices in their crusade against bots and spam, either.
Most importantly, automation tools cannot truly imitate the tone of a real-life social media manager, nor can they craft unique responses that actually cater to the unique needs of your followers. There’s a huge difference between redirecting your followers to a specific FAQ page versus spamming “Nice comment!” or “Thanks!” on every other post.
In fact, automation can oftentimes backfire on brands who are trying to cover too much ground with serial “likes” and comments. According to our Research, this sort of behavior bugs your fans and encourages them to unfollow you.
Part of the beauty of social media is you can get in the trenches with your followers, pick their brains and listen to their concerns. When you leave these tasks to an automation service, you’re losing out on crucial conversions and gambling with how followers perceive your brand.
Meaningful customer interactions like this one from Loot Crate simply can’t be imitated by a bot or automation service:
And let’s be honest: it’s not difficult to tell a personally tailored comment from a copy-and-pasted one. When you rely on the latter, your followers might see you as little more than a spammer.
Simply put, the risk of damaging your brand or tuning out your followers isn’t worth the potential time saved or followers gained. That’s why Facebook automation tools are generally frowned upon by the platform and its users alike.
How to Use Facebook Automation the Right Way
Rather than attempt to put your Facebook presence on autopilot, marketers should try to find a balance between automation and real-time interaction with their followers. The following alternatives to Facebook automation provide marketers the best of both worlds: saved time and increased engagement without sacrificing your brands’ reputation.
Schedule Your Facebook Posts
You don’t need to be glued to your keyboard 24/7 to boast a powerful Facebook presence. Scheduling your Facebook posts in advance is a brilliant strategy for busy brands looking to knock out the time-consuming task of posting content while also optimizing the timing of their posts.
Facebook scheduling is a key component of creating a more efficient social strategy. With the ability to spread content across multiple platforms and see firsthand which posts receive the most love, the can focus on the types of content that matter most to your followers.
Hire a Helping Hand
If managing the moving pieces of Facebook is taking a toll on your schedule, there’s no shame in hiring a virtual assistant to pick up the slack on your behalf. With the help of a social media scheduling tool, you have peace of mind knowing your essential content is being posted while your for-hire social manager handles your customer service.
Invest in Smarter Bots
Not all bots are bad news.
Facebook Messenger bots are booming in popularity as brands look to streamline communication between themselves and their followers. With the help of bots, brands can respond to queries in real-time or even help potential customers make purchasing decisions.
By setting up specific responses and suggestions, brands are able to engage with followers off-the-clock. Unlike Facebook automation tools that rely on generic, one-size-fits-all comments and responses, Sprout’s own Facebook bot is totally customizable and allows your followers to guide the conversation.
Oh, keep in mind that your followers are the one initiating the conversation. In other words, you don’t run the risk of unnecessarily bugging your followers with spam. Messenger bots effectively address customer concerns and queries minus worrying about going rogue on you.
These strategies allow you to show genuine interest and keep the human element of your social presence and filling in the gaps in terms of your schedule. While we’re nowhere near the point of fully-automated social marketing, these tools tick the boxes of making the lives of marketers so much easier.
Run Your Own Ads
Sometimes the best way to increase your Facebook reach is by opening up your pocketbook. Fortunately, Facebook’s ad platform is known for its customization and hyper-specific targeting, guaranteeing that you get the most bang for your buck when it comes time to run an ad.
What Does Facebook Automation Mean to Your Brand?
Modern marketers have a distinct choice to make in regard to how they manage their social channels. Removing the personal touch of your Facebook presence could be a perilous decision for brands who strive for legitimate engagement.
On the flip side, proven strategies such as scheduling and messenger bots serve as smart alternatives to full-blown automation that saves brands time. These sorts of tools not only streamline your social presence but also allow you to spend more time focusing on getting to know your followers.
So, what are you doing to cut down your time spent managing your Facebook presence? What are you feelings on the ever-changing trend of Facebook automation? Let us know in the comments below!