Social media automation software is used to automate or semi-automate the process of sharing posts and content on social media channels. Automation software also makes it possible to share on multiple social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) simultaneously.
There are plenty of benefits to social media automation, including:
- Efficiency: Scheduling a lot of posts in advance that can be shared on multiple networks while simultaneously saving you time.
- Easy to use: The user experience is smooth sailing. You quickly plug your social profiles into the tool and start scheduling.
- Business growth: The more consistent and active you are on social media, the higher traffic you’ll drive to your website. This means more business and better search engine results.
Before we get too deep–let’s make sure we’re on the same page. This is our guide to all things social media automation. We’ll cover areas like how to get started, how to optimize your social posting and how to make the most of automation tools.
What You Can Do with Social Media Automation
There’s a common misconception that automation tools are meant to make social media marketing a completely hands-off process. This isn’t the case.
While social media automation tools can save you time and effort, it’s not going to replace what needs to be done by a human.
Here’s what can be done with an automation tool:
- Schedule and optimize posts for the most engagement
- Curate content from blogs you love
- View reports for valuable insights across multiple networks
- Create custom responses to common customer queries with chatbots
What You Can’t Do with Social Media Automation
Social media automation is for efficiency and enhancing your community’s experience. It’s not about avoiding conversations with your customers, replies to their queries or comments. Social media for businesses is still about engaging in meaningful conversations as a real, live human.
A human still needs to:
- Have meaningful convos with your community
- Keep your schedule of content fresh and exciting (you can’t just post the same content over and over without adding anything new).
- Create creative content to be shared and scheduled to go out via your automation tool. This means spicing up those blog shares with a nice headline.
How to Automate Social Media Posts With Sprout
If there’s a golden rule to social media marketing—it’s consistency. You need to post regularly if you’re going to: drive traffic, engage your followers, build your follower base, etc.
Sprout Social gives you a few different ways to fill up your social media calendar with curated content ahead of time. This means you can sit down for an hour and get months worth of social media posts scheduled and ready to trickle out as needed.
First, you have to sign up. Grab a free 30-day trial here to see everything in action.
Next, you need to plug in the social accounts that you want to automate.
Anyone with the Manage Profiles & Permissions privilege can connect a social profile to Sprout.
To connect a profile:
- Click the plus sign in the upper right corner
- Select the network you’d like to add. There may be additional options to select based on the network you chose.
- Click the button in the lower right corner of the Connect a Profile screen.
- You will be sent to the corresponding network’s site. Follow the prompts to authorize the profile.
Once you’re all signed in and have your profiles plugged in, navigate to the Publishing tab at the top, then select Sprout Queue on the left side.
Here, you’ll see you’ve got three different ways to queue up content. Let’s go through each:
1. Compose It Yourself
First, you can write your own posts directly into the Compose box. This means you write the post from scratch and you can add any links or images you like as well. To schedule your post you click the Sprout Queue button. It looks like this:
From there, you’re given the following options:
Publish Now means you’re sending the post out immediately.
Sprout Queue gives you the option of using an automatic scheduling system. You can either choose the date/time that your post will go out or use our ViralPost feature. ViralPost uses an algorithm to determine which date/time will earn your post the most engagement.
Schedule Manually means you select the post time and date yourself.
Save as Draft means you can come back and work on the post at a later time before sending it out.
2. The Queue Extension
You can choose to install the Queue extension that works with your web browser. This extension will allow you to browse web content, your favorite blogs, etc. and save things to add to Sprout Queue as you browse—very efficient!
To install the extension, just click “install extension” and then “add extension.”
This will add the extension to your browser, which only takes a couple of seconds. Next, you’ll be able to use the extension (located at the top right corner of your web browser) to collect content as you browse the internet.
3. RSS Tool
The third option for curating content is by using Sprout’s RSS tool to collect and post content from a feed that you create.
You can use the RSS tool by navigating to Publishing & View RSS feed.
Or click on Feeds in the top menu and RSS reader.
This will allow you to integrate a Feedly account with Sprout Social. To learn more about using Feedly, check out this article.
Bonus: 4. Content Suggestions
A fourth option is to use Sprout’s new Content Suggestions feature.
Here, you can find articles from around the web that have been highly shared on social media, organized by category.
When you find an article that looks good for your audience, hit “Send to Compose” and schedule away. It’s that simple!
Follow These Rules for Automating Social Media Posts
Like we mentioned in the beginning, social media automation isn’t something you should just set and forget. While curating posts makes your life easier, there’s still some work required if you actually want results. Remember, the goal of automating social media posts isn’t just to push content out. It’s to share content that your audience likes and drive engagement.
Here are some tips to turn curated content into engagement gold:
Write Quality Posts
Don’t simply rely on what gets curated by automation tools—take the time to spruce each post up a little. A little sprucing can go a long way in terms of driving engagement and shareability.
Here are a few social post writing tips to get you started:
- Be specific: If you’re sharing a blog post, specify how the article will benefit your audience. Highlight an impressive statistic from the post. Example: ROI for social media automation estimated at 200%.
- Make it special: Emojis, special characters, pics and memes add flavor to your posts and make them more engaging and excited.
- Hashtag: Use our Trends Report or Ritetag to find hashtags that will get your brand discovered.
- Space it out: If you’re going to write a lengthy post for Facebook or LinkedIn, make sure to add some line breaks. Aim for a paragraph break with every couple lines of text.
Share Content Your Audience Craves
Share your most shareable content. To determine what’s shareable, simply take a look at which pieces of your content are shared the most by your customers.
Shareable content is always a great go-to. You know your audience/target market love and appreciate the content, so keep the shares coming!
You can use Buzzsumo or the Content Suggestions feature in Sprout to quickly find which pieces of content your users share most frequently.
In addition to social shares, here are some other ways to uncover the type of content your audience wants to see:
- Share posts that get the most traffic: If you don’t have direct access to your company’s web analytics, ask the person that does. Ask them for the top 10 pieces of content traffic wise. Add these articles to your queue!
- Share what turns readers into customers: Again, if you don’t have direct access to your company’s web analytics, ask the right person! You absolutely need to know which articles and pieces of content are most often turning your blog/web visitors into new customers, newsletter subscribers, or trial subscribers. Find the top 5-10, and add these posts to your rotation.
- Share your stellar stuff: Have awesome infographics, videos, eBooks, podcast interviews with ballin’ experts? If so, share that stuff on the regular. Add these favorites to your queue.
Post When Your Audience Is Engaged
What good is a post that doesn’t get seen? Great news. Optimization is automated when you’re using a social media automation tool like Sprout Social.
To have Sprout Social automatically optimize when your content is posted, you need to use the ViralPost feature.
Once you’ve got some posts in your queue and ready to go, you can elect to use ViralPost scheduling instead of selecting times yourself. This is another huge time saver for Sprout’s users.
We’ve also done some analysis to figure out when’s the best time to post on social media per network and industry. Check out the results here.
Determine The Right Posting Frequency
How many times should you post per day? That’s a big question, and in all likelihood, it really depends on your unique audience. After all, no two audiences/communities are the same.
- Facebook: Over 10k followers: 2 to 5 times per day. Less than 10k followers: 1 to 5 times per week.
- Twitter: Up to 15 times per day.
- LinkedIn: 20 posts per month or 1 post per day.
- Instagram: 1 to 2 posts per day.
- Pinterest: 11 pins per day.
How to Automate Social Customer Care (The Right Way)
Properly managing your social media accounts is a great way to improve your customer service.
But there’s a thin line between using social media automation to streamline customer service and frustrating your audience with bots.
Using Chatbots to Automate Customer Service
You can use Sprout Social’s chatbots to quickly create logic-based responses to your most common customer queries. The bots work on Facebook and Twitter.
To learn to build a chatbot for Twitter or Facebook, follow along with this video.
Using the Smart Inbox to Improve Customer Service
Another great way to automate and improve your customer service experience is to use our Smart Inbox tool. The Smart Inbox allows you to use tags and filters to sort through customer comments.
Smart inbox places all of your messages, from all of your connected profiles, into one place. You can filter the messages, pick out the most urgent problems, and respond right away without leaving the app.
Every action taken within Smart Inbox is recorded in real-time, so there won’t be any confusion between you and your team as to what’s been taken care of.
Another cool feature in the Smart Inbox that’ll help automate your social customer care efforts is Saved Replies. Write out approved responses to common questions and comments your brand receives on social, so your team can quickly reply without having to think of what to write. It’ll keep your responses on-brand and saves a ton of time for social teams who receive dozens or hundreds of incoming messages every day.
Automating Social Media Reporting & Analytics
No social media maven could grow their community or keep their customers satisfied without analyzing their efforts. Luckily, there are plenty of social media analytics tools that automate reporting and track the metrics your brand cares about.
To view your social media analytics reports in Sprout Social, click on the Reports tab at the top, then select which report you’d like to view on the left side.
As you can see, there are reports for each social profile that you’ve got connected to Sprout.
In addition, there are lots of other types of reports that you can use to improve your social media efforts. Let’s take a look at what some of those reports can do for your company.
You can compare your different social profiles to competitors, which is helpful to see what’s working for your competition and mimic that.
In a nutshell, the internal reports are going to give you insights into how different profiles (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) are performing separately as well as together. You’ll see which profiles work best for your brand, and you’ll also check in on your competitors.
Cross Channel Reports
These reports are focused on what’s happening with all the profiles you’ve got connected. The Group report helps you understand the overall performance of all your networks combined, like how much have your profiles grown, what sort of engagement are you getting and so on.
You can also get a glimpse of overall engagement with the Engagement Report, which is great for improving customer service and the morale of your community.
Like we mentioned above, Twitter is a great place to improve your brand’s NPS (net promoter score) aka customer satisfaction rating.
Sprout gives its users lots of great Twitter insights–like which keywords to focus on for optimal engagement, which hashtags are trending or what people are saying about your company on Twitter.
The Advocacy Report allows you to see what your teammates are sharing on social networks and how those posts are performing. Team-wide social sharing is a great way to build an organic following and build trust with your community members.
Additionally, Bambu, our very own employee advocacy tools, is perfect for getting the word out about your company through your biggest fans–your employees! Learn how easy it is to implement and curate content for your employees to share across their own social networks to automate more content production, company updates and job postings.
Social media automation is a two-way street: Where certain tasks are put on autopilot (like scheduling, or curated content from Feedly), and where other tasks are better managed in real-time by a person.
Today’s world is one that’s active on social networks, and customers really turn to social media when they’ve got problems or questions. Sprout’s tools can help teams automate social efforts to improve customer service ratings.
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. So, it’s just as important to be able to draw insights from all of your social data as it is to automate it for the sake of efficiency.
Find the balance between curating content and creating meaningful dialogue with your network and you’re sure to see an uptick in social media metrics.
What social media automation hacks have you used to increase traffic and conversions?