I’ve seen it both ways—you probably have, too. Some folks will tell you to automate your social media efforts. Always autopost blog entries to Facebook and Twitter (and others… there are others, right?). Use plugins to manage the autoposting. No problem, just get everything in the pipeline. Other folks will tell you never to automate. It’s impersonal. It’s amateurish. It’s not social and you’re not a robot.
Me? I don’t care a whit if something is automated, and here’s why:
I trust the people I follow.
Whaaat? Trust?! These days?
Yeah, seriously. I don’t follow tens of thousands of people on Twitter, so I’m not overloaded with tweets. I haven’t connected to thousands of people on Facebook, so I’m not overloaded in the News Feed. If the people I’m connected to want to automate, I don’t care. I don’t care because there is no difference—none—between a post written by my friend and manually tweeted vs. the same post auto-tweeted.
What, you think the content changes somehow? Like the article itself has more value to it if it is manually shared by my trusted source? Of course it doesn’t. The article is the article. It doesn’t magically change the moment it gets run through an automator plugin.
This little mini-rant was inspired by a conversation (if you can call it that) on Social Media Today. Normally, I would just leave a comment and be on my way, but this is 2012, and expecting someone to sign up for your website when you could be using Disqus, Facebook, or any number of common, popular commenting systems is a little insane. I’m sure your site is quite nice, but I’m not giving you my info in exchange for the ability to leave a comment.
Anyway, the article over there is called 4 Reasons Not To Autopost Your Blog Articles To Social Media and I’m about to prove my 1 Big Reason Why It’s Just Fine.
I found that article via Twitter. It was posted in this tweet by podcaster Daniel J. Lewis. The tweet was basically nothing more than the title of the article and a link. I thought Daniel wrote it. Why? Because this is exactly what an autoposted tweet looks like. Nearly exactly, anyway. Enough that I reasoned it was his. I clicked the link, and why not? Daniel is a trusted source. When I got to Social Media Today, I saw that he wasn’t the author of course, but that didn’t bother me. Again: Daniel is a trusted source. And here we are.
Now, I know that technically speaking, Daniel’s tweet was manual (albeit generated by a button set by a plugin), not fully automatic, and so technically it doesn’t exactly prove my point 100%. But I’m willing to make the statement anyway because, the tweet looked automated. For all intents and purposes, it might as well have been automated. And I clicked on it anyway, didn’t I?
Now, what do you think is more common—people who go about their day on social media clicking on links and reading their sources, or people that nitpick and worry about whether or not someone is automating a twitter stream? I’m willing to bet my behavior is far more common than the other—but I suppose when your business hinges around teaching people the “right” way to use social media, that’s to be expected. (I’m not saying Social Media Today is a bad site or anything like that, I’m sure they’re good eggs, I’m merely suggesting that they might not be the most unbiased arbiter of these things). You know who the only people that care about how social media is used are? People that are trying to make money with social media. Average users don’t care about automation, scheduling, what link shortener you use, what client you use, or anything else other than the content of your tweet or post.
Lastly, commenter Christina Trapolino said, “it is extremely obvious when you’re auto-posting and no one cares what robots have to say about anything.” I’m pretty sure I just demonstrated that that statement is false, and if you look at the sheer volume of data flowing through Twitter and how many links get clicked at any given time, saying that nobody cares what robots have to say and suggesting that everyone’s bothered by autoposting is a theory that doesn’t hold much water. As I said, average users don’t care about such things. We read, we click, we read.
Social media automation has something in common with spam: if it didn’t work, nobody would do it.
Full disclosure—my Facebook page sucks. Yeah, I know. Whatever. I have a lot going on and I have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with Facebook so I never motivate myself to spend more time on it. So to you readers who will automatically try to dismiss what I say because my own social media efforts—at least on Facebook—are weak… meh. Whatever. Think what you like. Doesn’t mean I’m not right about this.
One more thing. This post was automated. Did you arrive here via a social channel?