The trends have been pointing in this direction for a while, but now many social media companies are making it official. The “pay to play” model is in full swing, and despite how this might make social media content companies feel, this is a really good thing for businesses.
Facebook is the most recent to announce that spam from businesses won’t be tolerated. This has really been the unspoken case for a while, but now they’re upping the ante by threatening to remove posts from brands that are too promotional.
Today I had a potential client walk me through this amazing system they had developed to post to Facebook and Twitter. They had various programs pulling from feeds, posting at different times, with manually-scheduled posts integrated into the feed ring to allow for pictures and video posts. They even had their alerts set to let them know the moment that someone commented, retweeted, liked, or engaged in any way. It was an impressive system.
The only problem is that it was worthless.
I told them that they weren’t getting any alerts other the occasional spam. They nodded and wondered how I knew. I explained…
Facebook Knows Automation
There’s a reason why posts from native Facebook origins such as posting directly to Facebook.com or through their mobile apps get MUCH more attention than those sent through API tools. They know that the tools are designed to make things easier and often impersonal. Granted, there are many people who use tools such as Hootsuite as a consolidated place to see all of their social interactions and are applying the tools in a completely organic and personalized manner, but unfortunately there are plenty of people and businesses who use these tools to streamline the effort and make Facebook less personal (at least from their perspective).
The only way Facebook can know that something posted is personal is if it’s posted through their native software. As a result, they give higher placement to manual posts. Test it. Post an image or link to your page with a tool and then follow it up immediately with a post through Facebook.com. The next day at the same time, reverse it by posting through Facebook.com then posting through the tool. In both cases, the post through Facebook will get a much higher reach.
Feeds are Dangerous
In an ideal feed situation, great sources with relevant data are being plugged into the feeds supplying content to your Facebook pages. That ideal situation doesn’t always happen. In fact, it’s rare.
Two incidents that happened to automotive clients highlight the dangers. In the first, a Nissan dealer was pulling from a Google feed displaying news about the “Nissan Altima”. Most were decent posts, but there were some that were borderline-negative and one in particular that went on their wall about a child kidnapping suspect who was last seen in a Nissan Altima. This is good information to share except that it was from the LA Times. The dealer was in Shreveport.
In the other situation, a dealer had written an excellent blog post about Ford SYNC. He noticed a couple hours later that his post had triggered the feed posting for his competitor. On their Facebook page was a link to a post that highlighted his own dealership.
Let’s assume that the alternative is to use a static feed, perhaps from your business’ blog. This is awful. Unless you have multiple writers posting a dozen stories a day, there is no reason to “streamline” the efforts this way. Instead, post it manually and include a sentence or two in the status update explaining why the post is important. Even if you skip that step, posting them manually is still preferable based upon the reason above – more exposure.
It’s Called “Social” Media
The worst part about automation is that it takes away the whole point of it all. Your daily routine should include multiple fast touches of your social media presence. You should be posting manually to Facebook and Google+ at the very least. Twitter can have automation mixed in daily just to keep the flow going, but it still needs a human touch at some point throughout the day.
Tools do not allow you to get involved with other relevant conversations. They don’t give you a real picture of what’s going on in the social world as it pertains to your business. It reeks of insincerity and prevents you from seeing the real benefits.
There are reasons to use tools. Weekends. Days off. Vacations. Busy periods. Long meetings. There’s nothing wrong with scheduling posts to run on days when the last thing you’re thinking about is work. You don’t have to be a slave to social media, but you can’t ignore it, either. Using the “set it and forget it” approach simply doesn’t work.