The 2020 Social Media Automation Guide – Work Smarter, Not Harder20 min read
I think we can all agree that over the past few years, social media has risen to new heights, and understandably, so has social media automation. According to a study conducted in 2019, 3.5 billion people worldwide are engaged in social media… that’s around 45% 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, though! As social media advances, so do the tools we can use to ensure we’re staying up-to-date with it, and 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 marketing campaign, you’ll know how vital they can be in building a brand and gaining a loyal following. However, you’ve probably also learnt 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, such as collating and analysing data, sending emails and monitoring social media.
That’s right, over 2 full days of your working week could be spent purely on social media 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 help to improve 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 more depth:
- Scheduling tools
- Content curation tools
- Social listening tools
Before we run you through some of the best tools for scheduling social media content, let’s get back to basics and discuss what social media schedulers actually are, and how they can benefit you.
Picture this… it’s gotten to 1pm and you’ve realised 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 post on your social media accounts for you, without you having 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 are a multitude of scheduling tools out there, 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 schedulers, 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 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 postings, and rearrange them where you see fit.
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!
Next on the list is Hootsuite with another great scheduling tool to help you manage and automate your social media 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.
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 a great way to test the scheduling waters, especially if you’re a complete beginner.
Here are the range of plans in all their glory:
Another great aspect of SocialChief’s scheduling tool is their 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…
Content Curation Tools
The topic of content curation is no stranger to our blog, and for good reason! 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 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.
Don’t fret though, 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, companies that share curated content receive up to 33% more clicks on this than on the content they’ve created themselves.
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, and 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 prioritising 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 to the others…
Unlike other curation tools, the team at Quuu hand-review and curate every piece of content that will be shared with subscribers, ensuring that everything you receive is of the highest quality possible.
When you sign up, you’ll be able to choose from over 500 interest categories to make sure you’re receiving relevant content. And, don’t worry! Just because content is curated by hand, doesn’t mean you’ll be receiving any less suggestions… team members at Quuu will curate content for different categories daily to keep them topped up.
Pretty good deal, right?
As well as this, the curating team will hand-review all the content submissions from Quuu’s sister site, Quuu Promote, to give you even more options. That’s right – every video, article and blog post that’s submitted is hand-checked to ensure it’s suitable to be shared to subscribers.
Quuu also offer three different plans for you to choose from:
- Free ($0/month) – up to 6 content suggestions per day to send to 1 social media profile
- Pro ($8.33/month paid annually) – up to 6 content suggestions per day to send to up to 10 social profiles
- Business ($40.83/month paid annually) – up to 6 content suggestions per day to send to 100 social profiles
This content can be integrated seamlessly with your scheduler of choice, to make the process a whole lot smoother!
Lastly, we’re showing you Curata, a curation software designed specifically with content marketers in mind.
Curata will search through thousands and thousands of sources all over the web to find you relevant content based on keywords. Once you’ve received the endless content suggestions, it’s up to you whether you approve them for sharing on your social profiles, or reject them – you still have the deciding vote!
Another useful aspect of Curata’s app is that it gives you the ability to put your own stamp on the content. You can edit the share texts, alter the image that’s sent out with the content and even add your own notes and comments to the piece. Even though you’re using content created elsewhere, you can add to it in-house to ensure that it still reflects your brand and business.
To find out more about Curata’s pricing, check out the plans below:
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 favourite anchorman may have been onto something.
Social listening tools 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 mentions 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 allows you to:
- Analyse 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 which you can capitalise on
However… tracking every single 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 softwares, to help you listen even when you’re not!
If you’ve created a fairly large company which 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, purely 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 in order to analyse 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 for 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, with the social listening aspect pledging to provide customers with the information they need to help them develop a stronger business strategy.
The team at Sprout Social have 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, immediately tailoring 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? 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 realise 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.
This tool doesn’t just focus its search within the country you’re based, but all over the world (in any language), ensuring 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 prioritise 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 that 85% of customer interaction will be managed through chatbots by 2021.
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!
|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 try 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.