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Social Media: Automation vs. Humanization

Automation can make all of our lives easier, and it does play a role in social media.  HootSuite allows you to enter in tweets and set the time you want them to be sent out.  Blogging software can allow you to create blog posts for the entire week and publish them on a schedule.  Marketing Automation software allows you to send email based on consumer action. 


If you have regularly scheduled announcements/posts/etc. then it makes perfect sense to automate.  You can't always be at your computer when it is time for the push, so this can keep you on schedule.


All of those examples have one main thing in common.  They all center around publishing content, not engaging in conversation.  This distinction gets lost far too often.


Do you have a balance between being social and being automated?


Automation vs. Humanization


Nothing bugs me more than automated responses from companies, or an automated Direct Message on Twitter after I have followed someone.  I recently sent an email to Delta Airlines asking a question about my account.  It was clear that the reply was either automated, or a canned response since they asked me to try things that I had already told them I have tried.


Automation in the form of a Direct Message has become a standard after you follow someone on twitter, and it is a lazy response.  Here are a few examples of DMs I have received after following someone on Twitter:


Thanks for following me, I'm excited about knowing you! Please join me on FB too, (link to their FB page)


Thanks for following. Keep me posted on any marketing insights or groundbreaking ideas you may come across.


Thanks for following, Hope you are having a nice day!


And my personal favorite:


I just gave you "peace and happiness "! Check it out: (Link from them) You should send me a gift back ;)


On a very rare occasion does a DM response to my follow even have my name.  Very lazy, very automated.  On the other hand, responses that address me, and who I am get my attention every time.  This is key in social media and building relationships. 


A great example of this happened to me a while back.  David Armano (@armano)who writes the blog Logic + Emotion, (a must read) replied to my Direct Message after he followed me.  Here is how it went.


My Direct Message:

Thanks for the follow David. I've been following you since the Twitter 20 with @jaybaer.  Have a great day!


His Response:

Cool, I appreciate you reaching out. always nice to hear from a real live person. :-)


This is from a guy that has over 26,000 followers on Twitter.  Just to prove my point, I talked to David and asked if he responds to all of the Direct Messages he gets.  His response was that not only does he not reply to the automated responses, he sometimes blocks them.  Adding a personal touch made me stand out.


Another example of good customer service and listening courtesy of Boingo.


My Tweet:

@Boingo Your connection keeps cutting out in the Mpls airport. Great when it is working, but getting frustrating.


Within a minute, I heard back:

@jlysne What part of the airport are you in?


That response immediately told me that someone was listening and was ready to help troubleshoot my problem.  Even though I had some trouble with the connection, I know that customer support is ready and listening if I have problems in the future.


Think about this next time you want to add more automation to your process.  Yes, it plays a big role in making us more efficient, but if you are trying to build relationships or enhance customer service, it can be your downfall.

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