I think we can all agree that over the past few years, social media has risen to new heights. And with this, social media automation. According to a new study, 4.7 billion people are now on social media… that’s around 59% of the population.
Now, we must admit that social media can do absolute wonders for businesses. I mean, where would any of us really be without it? But, with uncharted territories come many new challenges. Mainly, how do I keep up with all of this?!
Don’t panic! As social media advances, so do the tools we can use to ensure we save time and are staying on top of everything. Enter… social media automation tools! But what are they? And how will they help?
What is social media automation… and what’s the point of it?
If you’ve spent any time working on a social media campaign, you’ll know how vital they can be in building a brand and gaining a loyal following. However, you’ve probably also learned just how time-consuming all of it is. According to this HubSpot survey, marketers spend an average of 16 hours every week carrying out routine tasks. This includes collating and analyzing data, sending emails, and monitoring channels.
That’s right, over 2 full days of your working week could be spent purely on social management – that’s a lot of time!
So, if you fancy putting your feet up (well, maybe not quite!), social media automation tools are definitely going to be your best friend. Instead of having to spend hours and hours hard at work across all your social media platforms, you can install special tools that will do all the work for you – okay, all is a bit of a stretch, but a lot of it!
Yes, you heard that correctly, there are tools out there that will significantly decrease your workload and streamline your social media strategy at the same time. Now, let’s run through the best social media automation tools out there at the moment for you to get your hands on!
Here are four of the most popular types of automation tools that we’ll be looking at in-depth:
- Scheduling tools
- Content curation tools
- Social listening tools
Before we run you through some of the best tools for scheduling content, let’s get back to basics and discuss what schedulers actually are and how they can benefit your workflow and social media automation. Optimization is key when it comes to automation, and using scheduling tools can free up the time to make sure your content is high-quality.
Picture this… it’s 1pm, and you’ve realized you haven’t sent a tweet out from your business’ Twitter profile all day. You’re suddenly in a mad rush to find valuable content and get it out to your followers as quickly as possible. Sound familiar? That’s where a scheduling tool comes in handy. These will essentially publish social posts across all of your accounts for you. You don’t even have to lift a finger… what’s not to love?
Scheduling content for social media can be extremely beneficial for any content marketing strategy. Not only does it help relieve the pressure of having to post (and having to remember to post), but it also means you’re able to make sure posts are going out at optimal times to ensure they’re getting maximum engagement.
So, you can have a strong social media presence without actually being present… freeing you up a lot of time to work on other projects and allowing your posting to continue even beyond your working hours.
There is a multitude of scheduling tools out there to automate social media, and the most important thing is making sure you choose the right one for you and your business… so let’s have a look!
If you’re familiar with social media marketing it’s likely that you’ve heard of Buffer… it’s pretty big. With Buffer’s scheduling tool, not only can you schedule posts for all your social media accounts, but you can tailor what you post to each profile. Your LinkedIn audience isn’t necessarily going to be the same as your Facebook audience, for example, and this is a great way to cater to each following and ensure they’re receiving content they actually care about.
Buffer also has a content calendar feature where you can see exactly what you’ve already posted, and what’s been scheduled to post. This is a simple way to manage your content for all your social media channels and rearrange them where you see fit. This also ensures that all team members are aware of what’s being posted and when, making your social media publishing run smoothly.
Okay… we don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s time to talk about pricing.
Luckily, Buffer offers a few different price plans to suit your differing needs:
Another bonus is that a free trial is offered with each plan, so you can try before you buy! Get your marketing team to take a look.
Next on the list is Hootsuite, with another great post scheduling tool to help you manage and automate your marketing efforts more efficiently. Hootsuite’s sleek and accessible design makes it incredibly easy to automate your posts, whether you’re opting for their ‘bulk scheduling’ option (think bulk buying… but with posting) or directing your attention to their app to schedule on the move. This makes marketing campaigns a breeze.
Another feature that is sure to come in handy is their Google Chrome extension, or ‘Hootlet’. This allows you to automatically schedule content you come across whilst browsing… gone are the days where valuable content you stumble upon goes missing or is forgotten about!
Now, time to look at that all-important price list. Like Buffer, Hootsuite also has a range of plans to suit each individual, as well as a free trial or demo option to try it out beforehand!
Finally on our list is SocialChief… relatively new to the game but already a strong contender. The SocialChief scheduling tool prides itself on being super simple to use… that’s right, you don’t have to be a social media marketing aficionado to get to grips with this!
Not only is it delightfully user-friendly, but it’s also available to anybody who wants to try it with 3 social profiles connected and unlimited scheduled posts for free. You heard that right, unlimited scheduled posts for free! Now that’s good value social media automation, wouldn’t you say?
Of course, you can upgrade to more advanced plans if you’d like, but the free plan is the perfect way to test the scheduling waters, especially if you’re a complete beginner. When it comes to social media marketing automation, this is a great place to start.
Here are the range of plans in all their glory:
Another great aspect of SocialChief’s scheduling tool is its totally unique integration with Quuu, which works to provide you with hand-curated content suggestions that can be sent straight out onto your social platforms (or, better yet, scheduled to be sent out).
And speaking of curation… that brings us to our next point…
The topic of content curation is no stranger to our blog, and for good reason! Content curation is key to social media automation. As the number of social media users rises exponentially, so does the demand for quality content. But… as we mentioned earlier, it can be hard to deliver great content creation when the clock is ticking.
And that’s where content curation tools come in. These smart tools will drum up loads of relevant content suggestions that you can then share to your followers through social media posts.
But don’t fret, just because these suggestions come in abundance doesn’t mean they’re not up to scratch. In fact, these can be quality pieces. According to a recent study, over 50 percent of marketers that curate content say it has increased their brand visibility, thought leadership, SEO, web traffic and buyer engagement.
This just goes to show that by looking elsewhere, you can find some of your best-performing content and really expand your following (again, without having to do any of the work).
Now, let’s run you through some of the best curation tools out there that are sure to elevate your content marketing strategy!
The first curation tool we’re going to show you is Feedly, a feed reader which collects pages from all over the web and presents them to you in one place. Sounds convenient, right?
That’s because it is! Feedly takes into account a range of topics that interest you and your target audience. It then shows you related pieces, whether they’re coming from RSS feeds, social media, news feeds, or elsewhere! A unique feature of Feedly is their AI research assistant, Leo, who helps to declutter your feed so that you’re left with only the best pieces to share with your followers. Leo gives you the option to filter and refine your search for content in a number of ways, such as by prioritizing certain topics and keywords and muting repetitive or irrelevant information.
There are three different plans offered by Feedly:
- Pro ($6/month) – gives you content from up to 1000 sources
- Pro+ ($8.25/month) – gives you content from up to 2500 sources as well as providing the addition of Leo to help refine your content
- Business ($18/month) – provides a hub for teams as well as content from up to 5000 sources and the help of Leo
Whichever plan you choose, you can rest assured that you’ll be provided with enough (quality) content to keep your followers happy for a while.
The next content curation tool we’re going to be looking at is Quuu, and we must admit, it’s a little different from the others…
You may be thinking, how does sharing other people’s content drive traffic back to my website? And it’s a good point. Unlike other content marketing tools, we have now found a way to increase your conversions and website traffic from all the content you share, not just your own.
We make sure that every single piece of content you curate, be it a podcast, tweet, or news source, can have an added customized CTA with our URL shortening tool. This adds a personal touch and directs people back to your site. As you can imagine, this is a big win.
Here are a few of Quuu’s features we’re most proud of:
- Custom CTAs: Add a custom CTA to every piece of content you share to drive traffic back to your personal website.
- Measure the impact: Easily track your click and conversions of the links you share on all your platforms.
It’s free: Yep, that’s right. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better. With our free membership, you can get up to 500 CTA link clicks and all the basic analytics you’ll need.
BuzzSumo isn’t just great at finding content to curate; it is incredibly helpful at generating content ideas. Its Content Ideas Generator collects a huge amount of data from across its own site and others to bring you relevant headlines, keywords, questions, topics, and more. This means you’ll never run out of ideas.
They also have a four-step plan to help you find the right influencers to work with on your social media marketing. Starting with their Content Analyzer, you can search for a topic that relates to your audience. From here, check out the most-shared pieces of content and then the top sharers. You’ll be able to access a list of the top influencers in your area. Share their content with your audience, and expect an increase in engagement and your social inboxes straight away!
They have a 30 day free trial, so why not give it a try?
Social Listening Tools
Okay, so we’ve covered where to find new and interesting content for your followers and how to automatically share content on different platforms… but now it’s time to discuss something just as important.
In the words of the legendary Ron Burgundy, “I need all of you to stop what you’re doing and listen”.
And… it seems as though our favorite anchorman may have been onto something.
Social listening is a type of social media reporting, and there are tools that help you keep up to date with everything that’s being said about your brand across your social media. Are influencers praising your new product? Or… has someone written a scathing review of your brand? Either way, thanks to social listening tools, you’ll be the first to know.
Social listening goes beyond just monitoring brand mentions, metrics, and notifications across social accounts. It gives fantastic insight into how consumers are interacting with your brand in real-time, as well as showing their responses to competitors. This should help your company’s customer support because you’ll know what they want to hear.
This allows you to:
- Analyze data to uncover the trends between your highest-performing posts
- Build better relationships with your followers and engage with those interested in your brand
- Identify gaps in the market that you can capitalize on
However… tracking every single hashtag, mention, comment and critique can be pretty laborious for social media marketers. So, check out these picks for some of the best social listening automation software to help you listen even when you’re not!
If you’ve created a fairly large company that is getting hundreds of mentions a day, it can be pretty hard to keep track of them all. This means that you could potentially miss out on engaging with a huge chunk of people because you didn’t have the time to scroll through social media!
If that’s the case for you, Mention is sure to make your life a little easier. It searches through billions (yes, billions) of sources daily to let you know if you’ve appeared in conversations. No more FOMO for you!
And, whilst staying on top of your own company is great, you’ll also have the option to consider your competitors and place alerts on their mentions. This means you can analyze the conversations they’re involved in.
Once you’re aware of what people are saying about your brand, you can engage in meaningful conversations like this:
Mention offers a variety of different plans, ranging from a free plan (score!) to a $450+/month plan (which basically gives you unlimited access to everything they offer)! You can check out the ins and outs of their pricing here.
This social media management tool is very much business-focused. The social listening aspect pledges to provide customers with the information they need to help them develop a stronger business strategy.
The team at Sprout Social has identified 5 key pieces of information which customers want to gain insight into from social listening:
- Brand health
- Industry insight
- Competitive analysis
- Campaign analysis
- Event monitoring
Based on this information, they’ve developed amazing user-friendly templates to help you get started straight away. This will immediately tailor your listening experience to fit one of these categories.
Another cool feature that Sprout Social has chosen to focus on is the sentiment behind mentions.
Have you done something to make your followers angry that day? Maybe a Facebook ad didn’t quite hit the mark. Then… it’s likely you’ll receive an overall ‘negative sentiment’ score. But, if the conversations you’re involved in have been mostly positive, that’s right… it’ll be a ‘positive sentiment’! You can see the exact percentage to help you realize where you’re going wrong (or right!) and how you can improve. Social listening is just one aspect of Sprout Social’s plan. You can learn more about pricing here.
The social listening tool created by Awario is focused on helping you grow and build brand awareness and make social media automation a breeze.
This tool doesn’t just focus its search within the country you’re based, but all over the world (in any language). This ensures you’re involved in every conversation which impacts you, and not just those close to home. This could be absolutely vital if you’re a small business trying to successfully expand your brand at an international level, and certainly makes it a whole lot more manageable for bigger brands to monitor a global following, also.
Another benefit of Awario’s listening tool is their ‘Reach’ feature, which gives you the opportunity to prioritize engaging in discussions that have the most participants and highest reach. You can even exclude certain keywords from appearing! By diving head first into the big conversations, you’re increasing awareness of your brand; meaning you’ll be reaching for the stars, a la S Club 7, in no time!
Awario has three different plans: Starter, Pro and Enterprise. Check out which is best for you here.
Moving swiftly on to our final type of automation tool – you made it!
Okay, let’s talk about chatbots. We must admit, this method of automation has proven slightly more controversial than the rest. However, whilst not everyone can get on board with them, they do have some advantages. So much so that it’s estimated 85% of customer interaction are be managed through chatbots.
Yes, we find that hard to wrap our heads around too.
For many people, hearing the word ‘chatbot’ can conjure images like this:
But, it seems as though we may have judged too quickly. Studies have shown that these days, chatbots can actually be pretty astute, with the ability to answer 80% of all standard questions they’re asked. Not too shabby, eh?
Having said this, a lot of people are still pretty dubious over how much of an asset chatbots can really be. So, to help you assess whether they’re the right choice for your business, we’ve put together this table of pros and cons!
Pros and cons of chatbots
|Chatbots provide 24/7, round the clock support to customers, even outside working hours
|Whilst there’s a lot they can respond to, they won’t know everything, meaning customers won’t always be satisfied if their concerns are more complex
|Speedy customer service! Chatbots can reply immediately to keep customers happy
|Customers will miss that human element – they can’t empathise with customers and can appear mechanical in responses, which may damage customer relationships
|They help teams manage frequently asked questions that don’t require individual responses
|Chatbots can be tricky to set up and require maintenance to keep them updated
Weighed up the pros and cons?
If you’ve decided building a chatbot is the right way to go for your business, there are a lot of ways to go about implementing this. You can use a chatbot development platform to help you build your chatbot, or you can even create one yourself from scratch!
Now, because there are so many platforms out there to help you create chatbots, and it can be different for all social networks, we won’t go through them all.
Instead, check out these 3 tips to help make your chatbot a success:
- We know it’s a robot… but try not to make it too robotic! Customers will appreciate it if your chatbot can emulate a human in tone, so try and avoid it sounding too mechanical!
- Don’t overload your bot. Ensure it can answer a few questions really well, and then build this up. It’s better for it to be able to nail answers to just a few support questions than give wishy-washy, unhelpful responses to many.
- Update your chatbot regularly. As we mentioned above, chatbots require maintenance. This can take time but is really important for generating more accurate responses, and thus, better interactions with customers.
If you start by following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to chatbot success in no time!
So, there you have it. A fully assembled toolkit to help put your plans for social media automation into action.
Now, before we say goodbye, we want to stress to you the importance of being human. Of course, all of these tools will save you a great deal of time and energy, and will likely be incredibly beneficial to your business. But it’s important not to get carried away with cool new software and nifty tools.
Make sure you continue to engage with your followers, respond to mentions and show them you’re actually listening. You don’t want to take the social out of social media, completely.
Have you got any hot tips on social media automation? Share them in the comments below to help out our readers!