Scheduling select social media marketing updates in advance can help small businesses and nonprofits to manage their marketing workflow. Social media management consoles, such as HootSuite, make it easy for users to pre-schedule their updates in just a couple of clicks. While there are times when this is a useful tool, organizations need to remember that social media marketing isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ activity. Resources need to be allocated to monitor for ‘@ replies’ and ‘retweets’ and respond appropriately. If your small business or nonprofit is pre-scheduling social media marketing updates, be sure to keep these three considerations top-of-mind:
Automatic updates can’t replace interaction
While pre-scheduling updates for event registration reminders and new blog posts may help to manage marketing resources, a pre-scheduled update – regardless of how well-crafted it is – doesn’t replace human interaction. Using social media as a focus group and asking lots of questions? Expect responses from your community.
To supplement pre-scheduled commentary, organizations should allocate resources to having their social media marketing manager dedicate time throughout the day to ‘@ reply’ and ‘retweet’ people to increase interaction and build community. With authenticity playing such a significant role in successful social media marketing, letting people know that there is a human behind the avatar is critically important.
Responsiveness and a human touch are also vitally important when social media is used as a customer service tool. Increasingly, people are tweeting and updating their Facebook status to reflect poor in-store experiences. Regardless of whether or not your organization’s social media presence is intended for use as a customer service tool, one needs to monitor for customer service related commentary and respond appropriately.
Adaptability is key
Life happens. As we saw this past December, the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. significantly impacted the tone and conversation around the world. When significant events such as this occur, it is time to stop automatic updates before they go live. Whether you are directly impacted by an event such as the Newtown tragedy or Superstorm Sandy, it is best for your small business or nonprofit to demonstrate sensitivity to what has just occurred. Proceeding with automatic updates during such delicate times can lead to online backlash and spur a social media crisis that requires immediate attention. Something as simple as an update that says ‘Our thoughts are with those affected by XYZ’ can go a long way in building goodwill. Additionally, your brand may appear disconnected and irrelevant if it continues to deploy automatic updates during such times.
You can’t plan for everything
As we see in times of crisis, one truly can’t plan for everything that may happen. It is important to adapt one’s strategy to align with what is going on in the community-at-large and to be realistic about what one can and cannot schedule in advance. If your CEO is speaking at an upcoming industry conference, that may warrant a pre-scheduled update. However, content like news stories and blog posts live and breathe in real-time.
If your organization opts to pre-schedule social media marketing updates, strike a balance between the planned and the spontaneous. Perhaps two or three updates are pre-scheduled for days when one is on the road or tied up in meetings and the other updates occur in real-time. Regardless of the frequency of one’s pre-scheduled updates, monitoring for comments, questions and shares needs to be ongoing. You don’t want to be the company that gets a qualified sales inquiry in response to a tweet and doesn’t respond for two weeks.
As small business and nonprofits alike explore ways to make social media marketing less time-intensive, it is important to remember the end goals of one’s social media marketing program. Regardless of whether it is to attract volunteers or generate qualified sales leads, maintaining consistency, relevancy and a human touch should remain top-of-mind.