By Stewart Hicks.

pitfalls of automated social media

In our attempts to streamline social media strategies and make our lives easier, have we forgotten about the fundamental aspect of social media, i.e. being social? Here are 3 methods to avoid the pitfalls of automation whilst still ensuring you are using your time efficiently.

should I buy followers?Pitfall 1- Buying followers and fans!

Problem: You need more followers, and you keep seeing these people offering to get you thousands of followers instantly for what appears to be good value. Whatever you do don’t do it! In fact, block these people immediately. What they offer are empty shells of a profile. They won’t interact with you, and will make your metrics pointlessly skewed. To check how many of your followers are genuine you can use a free tool website such as  this one here.


  • Twitter: List Diving! Find people and businesses with common interests to your brand. See what lists they are a member of, and what lists they have created. These lists will be populated with people who will more than likely want to know about your brand. Engage with them and they will engage back!
  • Facebook: Kim Garst offers a fantastic e-book on how to grow your Facebook organic (unpaid) reach. Put simply you need to ask your followers valuable questions, engage and reply to them, and offer content (specifically photographs) that they will enjoy sharing with friends. Only 6% will revisit your page after clicking like, so you need your content to appear on as many timelines as possible. That means it has to be sharable.
  • Instagram: It’s all about hashtags. We grew our followers extremely quickly by using relevant hashtags (and lots of them) to promote our pics. We now get regular engagement, and unlike Twitter, using lots of hashtags does not ruin your message.
  • Google +: Join communities. Talk to people, make conversation, and share valuable content. If you can do it on Twitter you can do it here, and yes people are using google plus, especially in B2B sectors.
  • LinkedIn: Sell your brand off of yourself. Talk to people, share insights, and make sure you keep your company page up to date. Remember: on LinkedIn you have to market yourself as well as your brand!


automating personalised messages on social mediaPitfall 2 – Automated Messaging

Problem: You want to engage with everyone but don’t have the time. So you could run software that say’s thank you to your new fans and followers, automatically favourites and likes tweets featuring certain keywords, and points people at your other content and websites. Please stop thinking this is a good idea, you are driving me crazy.

Nothing feels less authentic and genuine than receiving the exact same ‘personal’ message everybody else is receiving. In fact this is essentially just spam. How would you feel if you sent somebody a gift on Christmas day and instead of phoning you up to thank you, the recipient sends out an automated voice recording, the same recording they send to everybody else? Does that make you feel valued?


  • Schedule your messages – Don’t pretend they are personal, but sharing content out on all platforms is easiest through a system such as Hootsuite, Buffer or our personal favourite Sprout Social.
  • Engage – You know… actually type out messages tailored to your followers. There’s no shortcut here, read what they say and respond. Remember that IT term GIGO? Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you don’t put the effort in neither will they.


take time to find and share content you lovePitfall 3 – Automated Content Curation

Problem: You don’t have the time to create and find content, so when a free service such as pops up you jump at the chance. The site creates a daily page customised to feature subjects of your choice, automatically populated from Twitter and other social platforms. Chances are you won’t even bother reading the auto curated content yourself so who knows what it’s saying, and if you haven’t bothered to look at it, why should I?


  • Use RSS – Systems such as Feedly allow you to create blog lists, allowing you to find great content with ease and share using scheduling software (see Pitfall 2 solutions above).
  • Remember This – It’s only valuable if you value it yourself.

So to conclude, don’t be lazy, shy or scared, get out there and make the most of social media by doing the one thing social media thrives on: being social. I will now leave you with the following quote: