Social media has come a long way since Six Degrees, the first social platform.
Before 2005, Facebook and LinkedIn were all the rage.
Later, Twitter, Snapchat, Myspace, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Google Plus and many others cropped up to meet the rising need of people to link with each other.
Later on, businesses realized that social networks are also the best places to hunt for leads, and then came social media advertising.
2017 saw most social media platforms revamp their services with more new features, brand opportunities, and consumer preferences.
Some of the smashing upgrades that made these sites more useful include the use of stories, shopping capabilities, chatbots and other artificial intelligence ideas.
But, as the number of users on social platforms continues to bulge, business owners are having a hard time to fully engage with their clients. Thankfully, there is a wide array of tools you can use to automate social media marketing.
Before we can take a look at a few common social media marketing automation tools, let’s briefly review some of the recent inventions in the social media ecosystem that you can leverage- if you haven’t started yet.
The Best Social Media Upgrades of 2018
Instagram TV (IGTV)
Since its inception, Instagram has proved to be one of the best platforms for advertising.
Some of the brands that have experienced crazy success through Instagram include Gucci, Audi, FedEx, Lego, Nike, Oreo, WeWork and many more.
On 20th June 2018, this site launched Instagram TV- a YouTube-like platform for posting long-form videos. The medium is helping businesses broadcast themselves in detail by sharing in-depth video guides and tutorials.
Have you checked it out yet?
Social Listening Tools
In order to take great care of their customers, brands no longer want to guess what their customers want. In 2018, many companies are using social listening tools to eavesdrop on client and brand conversations through target keywords or phrases.
This way, they are able to know all the complaints, praises and suggestions regarding their service delivery. These tools are essential in crafting spot-on marketing campaigns as well as enhancing the company’s image
In an era where companies get thousands of questions, requests, and complaints in a day, it’s virtually impossible for any social media team to provide immediate response to all those queries. Unfortunately, customers don’t care how stuffed your inbox is.
All they want is an immediate response to their problems and this should happen in no more than an hour. Taking longer to provide a response will result in customers switching sides. To avoid losing clients, you can let bots do some stuff for you.
Chatbots can take a huge chunk of activities off the shoulders of your marketing experts; answer some queries, execute orders, gather information and even provide customers with guidance on certain products or services.
However, since bots are made differently, it’s important to customize yours so they can handle specific requests.
Chatbots have been exploding over the past few years with 10x CTRs and open rates compared to traditional email marketing.
That's enough theory for today on how new social media updates are changing the industry. Let's now take a look at how to automate your social media marketing.
The Best Tools for Social Media Marketing Automation in 2018
Hootsuite is a simple yet powerful social media automation tool that lets you schedule posts in advance to be published on different platforms. With over 10 million subscribers, this tool provides social account holders with a single dashboard from where they can run all their accounts effortlessly.
The platform integrates well with over 35 social media APIs including Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and the rest. It also supports Google Analytics.
This tool provides real-time updates of all the activities taking place on social sites like when your brand has been mentioned and what exactly has been said. This can help you know what consumers want and avert possible crisis. Its analytics section allows you to know the best time to post content and lets you generate in-depth reports.
Despite having many features, Hootsuite is inexpensive and thus suitable for average social media marketers. Starters can enjoy the brief free trial period and then pick a plan from the affordable choices available.
With it, you will be able to find, schedule, manage and report on social media content a lot faster even with a small team of marketers.
Now, why is posting important?
To a large extent, the attract phase of the ACD funnel (Attract, Convert, Deliver) in your sales funnel starts with attraction. Sharing updates and providing value to target customers on social media is a great way to atrract people to your brand.
We just took a look at how to automate social media engagement.
But how fo you find good content to engage your target audience with?
If you want to have a deeper understanding of your social footprint and come up with smarter content strategies, BuzzSumo is the tool you need.
Rather than guess what content within your niche gets a lot of eyeballs, this tool (through the use of keywords) lets you discover the most popular posts as well as the influencers who wrote them.
From here, it’s up to you to link up with those individuals and build a worthwhile relationship with them. BuzzSumo is majorly a research tool with a search bar where you scout for anything you want using a keyword or phrase.
You can filter the results obtained by geographical location, domain, platform, duration, etc.
This tool collects data from major social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin and several others. It’s capable of providing analytical data as well.
Since knowing exactly what to post can be valuable to businesses, you will find BuzzSumo to be a little costly. However, if you can use the tool wisely, there is nothing to lose.
Find what content works in your industry, and then try to tap into the audience of industry influencers.
Having a subscription with Mention means you will always know when your brand gets mentioned in social media conversations. The amount of information you can get from this remarkable tool will help you perform competitor analysis, brand monitoring and many other things.
Mention links you directly to the individuals discussing your brand. This will compel you to get in touch with them and answering their queries right there and then. Such high engagement levels earn you new leads and keep your sales at the top.
While there are a ton of listening tools out there, I've found Mention to be one of the best ones- they provide more data and loop in more social converations than most other tools.
This tool has one of the simplest interfaces and everything happens from a single dashboard. Keyword monitoring, influencer scouting, competitor analysis, crisis management and discovering unhappy customers happens in a few clicks.
Pro Tip: You can also use mention to build links. Track mentions of your brand or content across the web, reach out and ask if they'dmind linking to your content/brand so that users can easily find them!
4. Agora Pulse
While Hootsuite is similar to Agora Pulse in several features, I've felt that Agora Pulse is the best way to engage with your customers.
The tool allows you to plan posts, schedule them, perform analysis, run contests, promotions, quizzes and effortlessly collaborate with your social media staff.
It goes further to compare your marketing campaign with that of your competitor so you can see where you stand. It’s a huge time saver for super busy business individuals.
Some of the media platforms Agora works with, include Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. You can schedule your content to go to one, several or all the accounts at once. Its smart analytics system is spot on and reliable. Their pricing favors average marketers and there’s a free 14-trial as well as a few free tools to play around with.
Agora Pulse has a preview button that lets you see how your content will appear once published. This can showcase typos, unwanted characters and improper formats that need to be fixed.
The calendar feature provides you with a bird’s eye view of all your posts (usually color-coded) which enables you to see the posts that are queued, published, scheduled or awaiting approval.
Buffer is the ultimate social media scheduler for anyone who deals with a lot of content and several social media handles.
This tool handles scheduling just like Hootsuite, but the best part is this:
They have enough analytic data to suggest the best time to post content!
It doesn't end there:
Its analytics mechanism provides useful insight into how your social media strategies stack up against those of competing brands.
They also provide unique advantages from an automation and UX perspective- adding content to it is easy peasy; especially with a browser extension. There’s a panel that guides you on what you need to fill in next like description, image, the social networks to post to and the specific times the post will be dispatched.
The interface is user-friendly and sports only the necessary tools. Buffer upgrades itself regularly to keep up with the ever-growing social media demands.
Their pricing comes with various packages that customers can choose according to their needs. The Buffer is available for windows and phones (iOS and Android)- which is an advantage for those who are always on-the-go.
If you’re running a marketing agency, you might want to check out SharpSpring (read our SharpSpring review). Although it also serves a wide range of small and mid-sized businesses, SharpSpring is particularly optimized for agencies seeking a rebrandable cloud-based platform that can handle numerous client projects concurrently.
Now, SharpSpring comes with multiple powerful features for building leads and managing marketing campaigns. One particularly outstanding thing here is its behavioral-based marketing automation capabilities, which come in handy when you need to target specific lead demographics by their actions.
If a lead likes, comments, mentions, replies, or even retweets one of your social media posts, for instance, you can rely on SharpSpring Social to automatically handle the subsequent set of triggers. Apart from notifying you, it can launch an email to follow up on the lead, or alternatively, proceed based on your selected pre-specifications.
Ok, hang on a minute. Which social media platforms are we talking about here?
Well, SharpSpring Social is quite versatile since it connects to your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles. You can then take advantage of its scheduler to publish your series of posts at just the right time for increased engagement.
And no. You don’t have to log into the respective social media platforms to monitor your feeds. You can handle that directly from SharpSpring, thanks to its social listening functionality. As a matter, you can even customize it to view feeds and updates at the same time.
An in case you’d like to see the overall big picture, SharpSpring’s Content Calendar extends to cover all your campaigns. It provides an overview of everything, including blog pieces, emails, and social media posts.
Ultimately, you can confirm the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns from their corresponding reports. SharpSpring uses its analytical tools to keep tabs on the metrics and subsequently assess the corresponding numbers accordingly.
That said, the overall workflow here is pleasantly simple and intuitive. SharpSpring allows you to visually manage your automation actions, social media segmentation framework, plus the consequent activation process.
And since you’ll essentially be handling many clients at a go, SharpSpring offers a comprehensive multi-client management console, complete with branded interfaces, white-labeled URLs, and sales functionalities.
Sadly, SharpSpring is not the cheapest software when it comes to marketing automation. In fact, it’s far from that. Don’t get me wrong though. What you get here is certainly worth every penny you pay.
7. Social Oomph
If you have a lot of evergreen content on your website then Social Oomph is the tool for you.
It's a social media management tool but doubles as an automation platform. It has great features, particularly, the queue reservoir that works best with evergreen content. Since evergreen content remains relevant a couple of years down the line, it’s important that you promote it whenever you can.
When you add your content to Social Oomph’s queue, you can specify how often the content needs to be shared. You can choose to publish it after an hour, two, three or even a day.
Every time an item on the queue gets published, Social Oomph sends out a tweet informing your followers about the post. Since the same evergreen piece will still be on the queue, the following tweets will vary a little to create some difference.
For instance, you want to promote an article on “5 ways to reuse plastic,” here is how Social Oomph will post the tweets:
Tweet one: 5 ways to reuse plastic – http://bitly.loak73h
Tweet two: Top 5 ways to put the waste plastic back to use – http://bitly.loak73h
Tweet 3: Is plastic lying around in your home? Here are 5 ways you can put them back to use – http://bitly.loak73h
So if you don’t want to bore your followers with the same string of tweet but wish to keep your marketing efforts at the top, try using Social Oomph.
Wondering how the biggies automate and manage social media?
SocialFlow tracks conversations in real-time and gathers insight. Based on the insight gathered, this app will determine the best time to publish in order to capture the attention of the audience. Here’s how its dashboard looks like:
This automation tool is a favourite of big brands like The Washington Post, Mashable, and National Geographic.
So what’s so good about Socialflow? First and foremost, it makes campaigns more efficient and this usually translates to increased revenue.
Secondly, this tool shows you the content that works and this not only paves way for excellent writing but assures the posted content will gather engagement and attract more interest (ACD cycle folks!)
Additionally, the analytics you get from this program is based on past findings and thus quite accurate.
So, instead of hiring data scientists and paying them a lot of money for playing around with data, you can simply subscribe to Socialflow’s friendly plans and save yourself plenty of time and money.
If Mention is not working for you for any reason, then the closest tool to it is Brand24. It mostly points out all the instances your brand has been mentioned anywhere on the internet.
But it’s not just about your brand or product; the mentions from your niche and competitors are also displayed. This should help you know how high or low you stand against your contenders. Beat that!
When you discover what people are saying about you online in real-time, you can jump in and provide more explanation or solve a problem before it gets worse. The mentions are classified as either negative, positive or neutral.
Brand24 can also help you identify and reach out to the most influential individuals within your industry (this means you can save on Buzzsumo). If you strike a good relationship with them, your business could gain more visibility. Through the social search tool, you can scour the net for hot or relevant discussions, topics, and trends so your content can exhibit the same viral traits.
For companies, the ability to share Brand24 projects, results, and alerts across the team can be super time-saving.
This tool is suitable for both individuals and companies who are interested in knowing their digital footprint on the web.
Socedo is my favourite tool on this list.
Because Socedo is a good lead hunter for B2B businesses. It automatically scans social media profiles and suggests individuals who could be potential clients. Once you have such an audience, you can segment them into various groups and market your products or services to them through Socedo’s dashboard.
Besides connecting you to the right people at the right time, Socedo can help you discover influencers within your industry, the hottest topics, and trends that your audience cares most about. Note that this program doesn’t work on its own.
You must provide it with the commands to operate upon. So, once you set a criterion (think target persona demographics) of the people you wish to connect to, it will automate the process and let you handle other businesses.
Socedo has a smooth interface and there are many features to juggle. As they merge with Azuqua, an automation platform that allows you to dream bigger, businesses can look forward to top-notch services.
SocialPilot can help you manage all your social media accounts under one roof. No more switching tabs to view each handle’s stats. Of the many social media automation tools available, this one comes nearly at the top as it supports over 200 accounts and allows bulk posting.
As the number of social sites keeps growing, SocialPilot could just be the pick of many people in the near future as it enables one to go beyond the popular social sites while hunting for leads.
Running dedicated campaigns can be a nightmare especially if all the teams involved don’t have real-time access to everything. Thankfully, SocialPilot can allow your entire team to collaborate on a project. Like most automation tools, this one too provides marketers with analytics so they can find out what’s working and what’s not.
SocialPilot’s plans are suitable for small business, professionals, enterprises, agencies, and teams. There’s a free trial period (with no credit card needed) for those who want to test their services. As the “bossman,” you get a dedicated account manager with phone and email support.
They're available on the web, on mobile, desktop as well as a browser extension.
12. Sprout Social
If you are looking for an exhaustive social media toolkit with tons of stunning features, you should try Sprout Social.
You can use it to schedule posts, monitor competitors, track your keywords, identify influencers, discover your mentions and analyze your stats.
The tool comes in handy for those looking for social media marketing as well. Regarding the number of social platforms supported, Sprout is a little bit limited compared to Buffer, Hootsuite, IFTTT, Socedo, and others.
Nevertheless, its multi-level access, including the lower-level team members makes it one of the best platforms for coordinating and delegating tasks. Even those with content problems can be assisted in drafting pieces that will spark online conversations.
Sprout Social is easy to use, affordable and serves small businesses, agencies as well as enterprises. There is a brief free trial period and no credit card is required.
There’s so much noise on the web nowadays and this can make keyword analysis and brand monitoring an extensive and exhaustive work. To shorten that time and get accurate results, you can rely on Socialert. This tool makes social listening easier and bags a lot more features.
This tool uses keywords and hashtags to inform (in real-time) when your brand, product or competitor has been mentioned. This way, you will never miss a conversation that could save your brand from being dragged to court, incurring losses or losing its edge to opponents.
Above all, Socialert provides comprehensive reports that be generated in CSV format. Isn't that killer?
Taking social media automation to the next level
Now, all the tools mentioned above can save your time and minimize having to do everything manually. Unfortunately, they don’t do everything like linking up all your devices. This is where tools like IFTTT and Zapier come to play. Let’s have an in-depth look at what they do.
I'm now wondering if which one I like more- Socedo or Zapier.
Zapier brings your entire world together. With a single tap, you can send out tweets whenever you’ve added a new video to your YouTube account. The platform provides over 250 services and anyone can use it; all you need is a trigger and every event will happen within those confinements.
This tool integrates with some of the common platforms like Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, YouTube, Slack, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Quickbooks and many more. And the best part…you don’t need to be a developer or learn code language to build your workflows. Everything can be done through a few simple clicks.
The starter kit with basic one step automation ‘zaps' (up to 5 of them) and getting help from support are some of the services that come for free forever. However, if you need a little extra power to automate more, you can go for premium plans.
15. IFTTT (If This, Then That)
The best way to scale your social media automation efforts is through IFTTT. Basically, automation kicks in once a certain condition/command has been fulfilled. It’s the one platform that connects you to many devices at a go. For instance, let’s use the applet (recipe) “save your Facebook images to Dropbox.”
So anytime you post an image on Facebook, it will be automatically backed up to Dropbox via the command “If you post an image on Facebook, Then upload a copy to Dropbox.” If you click the “all services” section, you can view a wide range of features, tools and “recipes” (also known as applications, channels or applets.
There are over 4000 applets that IFTTT connects to. Some are weird and some are cool but all in all, you can save a lot of time with this tool.
Some useful recipes for social media automation include:
- Syncing Instagram posts to Pinterest– when you post a photo on Instagram, this tool will repost it to a particular board on Pinterest
- Sharing WordPress posts on social media– whenever you post content on your WordPress, rather than having to share it manually on your social sites, IFTTT will automatically do that for you.
- Posting your tweets to Facebook– if some of your tweets bear certain hashtags, this tool will strip them out and post the message on Facebook (which doesn’t benefit from hashtags)
- Sharing your videos– just like WordPress articles, this tool can share the links to your YouTube videos on social media.
- Email Automation- Automatically email someone who has commented on your blog
With IFTTT automation, you are not restricted to using just the current applets.
You can create custom ones that fit your needs at any time. This tool is absolutely free and there is no limit to what you can do with it. All you need to get started is an email, username, and passphrase.
The Golden Rule of Automating Social Media
Don’t just use tools to automate social media and forget about human interaction. Strive to be valuable and follow up on your posts or else, your techniques will appear like spamming rather than marketing. The golden rule to observe while marketing on social media is to be social.
And there is a hack to this:
Attract at scale. Engage one on one.
If you fail to do that, then you have just lost your golden opportunity. For instance, while talking about scheduled tweets on Business Grow, Brooke Sellas wrote the following:
It’s indeed spamming if you just throw around content without coming back to follow up on any arising questions. It’s a turn-off and an insult to customers when you leave their questions unanswered. So after automating, stick around to provide feedback.
Rookie Social Media Automation Mistakes to Avoid
- Reaching out with automated DMs – Like a “hello”, just because someone said “hi” to you at the garage shop doesn’t mean they want you to take them out on a date. Similarly, don’t always imagine all your followers are ready for automated direct messages. Build rapport first, win them over and then solicit later.
- Buying fake followers – Even “le grand maître” marketers don’t advise anyone to buy fake followers. It doesn’t work over the long haul.
- Over-automating – Too much of everything is bad. Don’t over-tweet, don’t push and don’t post the same thing over and over again. Try to share some of the best posts from your competitors for a change.
- Using stale and unremarkable content – Automating crap content cannot get you the leads you desire. Once these tools show you the content that works, try to draft copies that your audience care about or will want to click “share.”
- Not measuring results & adjusting accordingly – You have the best automating software and its analytics data shows that things are not looking up for you, but you just keep going on. You need to use your analytics to readjust your moves and strategies so your business can thrive.
- Not adding sharing links/buttons – If someone reads your posts and they like it, the next thing they’d do is share that piece on their social space so their friends can read it too. If they like your post, this makes them look valuable to their audience because they always share great content. Additionally, having sharing buttons can earn you more leads.
Are You Ready to Automate?
The sole purpose of automating processes is to get rid of mundane repetitive tasks off your plate and get some more time to attend to the real issues facing your business.
However, you need to spare some time to visit your social sites and engage with your audience– this is being truly social.
But if you continuously rely on automation, then your followers will be able to tell you are using a robot or software and this could jeopardize your online reputation.
What tools do you use for social media marketing automation, that has not been covered in this post? Were they effective? Share your feedback and valuable insights with us in the comment section below.