image of robotsThe question of social media and automation has been come up a lot recently. Is using it right or wrong? I say yes. Both right and wrong, depending on how you use the automated tools, on what you are trying to do, and who you are trying to do it with.

Social media can be a time suck. There’s no getting around it.

It takes time to read even a small percentage of the excellent information available today. It takes time to share the stuff you’ve read and thought about and find valuable.

And most of us are also trying to run businesses and do work for our clients.

Enter social media automation. You know, tools. Many of us use some form of automation, like Hootsuite or Buffer or Triberr, to post the information we want to share with our networks. Some of us more effectively than others, perhaps.

Not long ago I was called out on a friend’s blog for having tweeted the exact same message and blog post at the exact same time as three other people. He included a screen shot to illustrate. Then asked what someone would think of seeing four consecutive tweets highlighting the same thing. He wondered whether that would be perceived as spammy behavior and whether the personal recommendations (of the post tweeted) would be diminished by being revealed as automated and impersonal.

Fair questions. I responded that I unapologetically use automated tools for some of the sharing I do in social media. Others commented that, while they were uneasy with the idea of automation, they understood the value and use tools at times. One person commented that someone sharing a link on Twitter without crafting a personal message makes him feel like they don’t care about the content they’re sharing or their own credibility.

Really?

I can’t imagine any of the clients I work with having the time to stay abreast of their social network updates without using some degree of automation. Clearly it makes sense to be as personally involved with your networks as possible. We are being social after all. Many of the people who balance the use of automated tools and personal connections do so by staying involved and responding personally, dipping in and out of their networks to comment or answer questions. Not just broadcasting endless messages and links automatically.

And that’s just it. Balance. Between personal involvement and automation.

Last week Danny Brown addressed the same topic – in slightly more energetic terms. His point is that social media “…works for people the way they need it to work, not how someone else uses it.” And that resonates for me.

If you’ve made it this far down the page you might be wondering what these automated tools are. The number and range of tools for updating your social networks is enormous and growing every day. I found a post on the Kissmetrics blog listing several really good tools for sharing content including Buffer (one of my favorites), Hootsuite (also excellent) dlvr.it and Sprout Social. These are just a few of the many tools available to help you manage your social network updates. I also use Twitterfeed and Triberr and am now testing Jugnoo.

Yesterday I posted about the importance of taking the time to personalize the invitations you send out on Linkedin. Most of the people who send out invitations on Linkedin use the boilerplate language supplied by Linkedin and that irks me.

Am I being hypocritical here? Perhaps, although that is not my intent.

Using automation to share a blog post on Twitter, from a blogger whose work I admire and who is consistently cranking out quality posts (even while I don’t agree with every word) feels different than issuing an invitation to connect without any personal message. But that’s me. You might handle it differently.

Are you wondering where social media fits in? How to balance your work load and your social networking? We can help. Give us a call at 419.740.1262. We’ll show you where to start and how to stay on top of it all.