Automation doesn’t have to be a Four-Letter Word

Automation.

Did that word just send a shiver up your spine? Let me say it again: automation. (Do it again. Automation, automation, automation!)

I personally don’t think that automation is the problem when it comes to Twitter and other social media sites. Rather, like with most things, I think it is what people have done with automation tools that is the problem. It’s like blaming guns for people who shoot other people. Some bloggers rely on these tools or base their social media strategy almost entirely on automation, and that mindset has pretty much ruined it for the rest of us.

I have a confession: I don’t mind a little automation. I know that some of you are shuddering at the thought, but let me explain.

First, to me it makes sense for you to set up things up so that your link is automatically tweeted or updated to Facebook when you initially post it. I mean, if everything you write is awesome (and it should be), you’re going to want people to know about it. Why not cut down on the work you have to do and just automate it? You’re going to post the link anyway, and frankly, people are following you for a reason. I don’t follow a blogger if I’m not interested in what he or she posts. If they don’t post links, I might not remember to read their posts. I’m a busy girl.

So to me, automatically posting your link to Twitter or Facebook is just like your RSS subscribers being automatically notified when you update your blog. No big deal.

But the blog zombies have warped that notion of automatically updating social media. Instead of tweeting a link once, they tweet it multiple times – and they set up automation tools to do it. Dude. I saw your new post the first thirty times you tweeted. I think we all can agree that some bloggers overdo the automation to promote new posts.

And then there’s the bloggers who use automation services (like the Tweet Old Post tool) to automatically promote old posts. I’ve seen this done well and I’ve seen this done in really crappy ways.

In all honesty, I don’t mind if you send out some old links. I peruse Twitter mainly late at night when there’s not a lot of activity, and automating your tweets so that when you’re sleeping you send out some links to awesome posts doesn’t bother me. I like to explore and find links I might have missed the first time around. But here are a few things to consider:

  • I don’t need a new link every 15 minutes even at night and I certainly don’t need that kind of link density during the day when you’re also tweeting status updates and sending out links to other bloggers’ posts.
  • When you automatically tweet links to time-sensitive posts, like site updates, you look stupid. Use the options to prevent this from happening.

Seriously, automation of old posts isn’t right for everyone. Don’t be a schmuck. If you’re going to automate your old posts, be intelligent about it.

But let’s talk about the worst type of automation of all…the auto-DM.

Talk about a shiver going up your spine! Auto-DMs are something that everyone rants about. They’re the devil! They make you look really bad!

So…why do some people still do them?

I think, sometimes, we forget that as bloggers, we expect different things than our readers might expect. Now, if you blog about social media, blogging, internet marketing, etc. and your followers are professions in the online field, an auto-DM probably isn’t a good idea. But if your followers are a different group? Well, I’m not saying that it is a good idea, but I’m not saying it isn’t a good idea. It depends on your audience.

Don’t auto-DM people because you’re too lazy to connect with your followers. Consider it if you’re using it for another purpose. Once, I followed a company that had a very active social media manager. I got an auto-DM, which surprised me. But it wasn’t the typical “Thanks for the follow! I’m too lazy to actually say thank you, but here’s a bunch of spammy links.” I can’t remember it word-for-word, but it was something like, “Thanks for following. This is an automated DM, but we wanted to make sure all of our followers got a coupon, so here it is: *link*”

Heck yes, I want a coupon! They were transparent about the DM being automated and they had a good reason for doing it, so I approved…and I’m a social media person. I bet that most of their fanbase (non-social-media-people) eat that sh*t up. Seriously, if my mom was on Twitter, she would loveĀ  that.

The point is, automation doesn’t have to be bad. You just have to be smart about it. Don’t try to trick your readers. Don’t use it because you’re lazy. Don’t be annoying with so much automation that people get sick of you.

Like with everything, do what makes sense for you. Don’t be like the zombie who abuses automation, but also don’t be like the zombie who isn’t open-minded enough to understand that automation can make sense in some cases for some bloggers.

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