Friday, November 1, 2013

Bulk Scheduling for Social Media Marketing: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly by Harriet Czernobay

The many tools out there to help manage social media marketing (Hootsuite, TweetDeck and Buffer to name a few) have change the way businesses communicate with their online followers. Bulk scheduling and automated messages is quickly becoming the norm – especially on Twitter. Has social media marketing essentially become a load of computers shouting automated messages at each other?
I certainly hope not. Whilst there are advantages to bulk scheduling for social media marketing, there are some serious downsides too. And it’s important you are aware of both before lining up your company’s tweets for the next 3 months.

The Good:

  • Bulk scheduling social media saves you time. If you know you are promoting your content automatically through social media, you don’t have to devote time to it every day, and can focus on other marketing activities.
  • You can plan to resurrect old content. Evergreen blog posts, infographics and presentations can be continually shared – so people will continue to discover them long after they’ve been written.
  • You can plan social media marketing activity long in advance. So you can think carefully about the posts you write, to make them as engaging and effective as possible. This also makes it easier to plan social media marketing around public events (e.g. Halloween or Easter related tweets) or specific marketing campaigns for your business.
  • Scheduling posts at different times gives you maximum exposure, so you can engage with followers in different time zones all over the world.
  • Bulk scheduling ensures your social media presence is always regularly updated – so you’ll never go days (or weeks) without a post.

The Bad:

  • Scheduling tweets and other posts is not very personal, and if it is obvious you are scheduling it will give followers a negative perception of your brand.
  • It is easy to end up relying on scheduled messages, and not genuinely engaging with followers through replying to followers, retweeting etc.
  • This means you will be missing out on the conversation, and losing opportunities to join in and engage with relevant discussions.
  • If you schedule all social media activity in advance, you can’t respond to real-time events and news stories as they happen – something that can work really well in social media marketing.

The Ugly:

  • Bad timing can be the downfall of bulk scheduling. If you schedule a positive tweet or post that publishes right after someone tweets/posts something negative about you, it looks like you are ignoring them and can’t deal with the negative feedback. It just shows you are not interested in serious engagement.
  • If you are scheduling a lot of posts in one go, it is easy to confuse links (when shortening links in a CSV file to upload to Hootsuite, for example) – consequently you could be sending out tweets for months with the wrong links in them.
  • Not all characters can be understood by bulk scheduling platforms – so you can sometimes end up with characters such as ? randomly dotted amongst your posts.
  • Scheduled social media marketing content could become out of date by the time your tweet/post is published (e.g. if you are sending out a load of content on Google’s Penguin and Panda, when the rest of the SEO world is talking about Hummingbird).
  • Sending out a load of clearly automated messages just looks unprofessional, and gives the impression you are a complete social media amateur.

My Advice:

At the end of the day, bulk scheduling can really help make social media marketing a lot more manageable – especially for small businesses. Therefore my advice would be to proceed carefully, but scheduling is okay as long as you are active on social media as well.
It is crucial to be still be sending timely tweets and posts, responding to followers and keeping up with conversations. Otherwise there is just no point to having a social media presence at all. And of course, you must always triple check your posts for links and formatting errors!

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