Should You Totally Automate Your Social Media Updates?

I love social media in all forms. I have been one of the lucky few who has seen this wonderful world grow from a fledgling to the world influencing force that it is now. Like everyone else, I am really amazed at the exponential growth of this wonderful medium. Everything that grows this fast has some areas that are grey and controversial. One of the things that disturbs me a lot is the term – Social Media Automation. Why? Let us discuss that.

Hands Typing

First up, what is SMA? This is a new trend that is picking up steam among the so-called Social Media Gurus. SMA is simply removing the human out of the equation and automating just about everything you do on Social Media. I say and feel that this is counter productive to all that Social Media stands for. Why? Let me explain!

You are on twitter, you follow someone, you do that to see what they are saying and to try and also to connect with them at some level. What would you do if you found out that you followed an account that is entirely run by scripts? One to follow people back, another to send them a DM thanking them for a follow, a third one that posts mechanically from a list of sources and a last one that unfollows people who don’t tweet that much! You would feel like Kate Beckett in the season finale of Castle’s latest, completely lost and flabbergasted! Now, if I told you that there are potentially thousands of such accounts on twitter, would you be surprised? It’s true!

At this point, let me clarify that I am not against scheduling posts in anyway, I know many people who use scheduled posts to actually connect and interact with folks in another timezone. I have done that myself, the point there is that I select what is tweeted and when and I actually care to read mentions and respond to them. That is a nice way to network. What I am lamenting about here is a different malaise.

There is a wonderful tool called IFTTT. When used correctly, it can simplify a lot of mundane things and make time for you to actually network online. But people are misusing this tool to actually pick up content from one place and to mindlessly keep posting it to another place, the destinations here are most often twitter and facebook. It looks nice when someone posts a few photos on facebook but that being done every half an hour by a script makes you feel like House M.D stuck with Cuddy, flabbergasted and pissed to the core! Add to this a healthy mix of other tools that help these “bots” actually respond and interact with other similar “bots” and you have your Social Media nightmare served to you! I have first-hand seen many people quit social media due to this. Needless to say that even the social influence scoring systems reward this behavior with increased scores!

So here is what I think:

  1. Scheduling posts is fine, as long as there is a plan and interaction behind it
  2. Mindless automation on Social Platforms just to garner numbers is actually counter productive in the long run, both the platform and it’s users will label you a bot
  3. Time optimization is good in today’s world, but replacing yourself with a script is like hiring an actor to lead your life so that you can relax, pointless!

In total, at this point, we can all safely give total SMA a miss and try and be ourselves! But please note that automation that actually helps to connect and interact is not a bad thing. Total Automation is where it gets messy.