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Hi Brett, nice article. I'd like to send you a Kindle copy of my brand new book SOCIAL STATE. You can learn more at http://www socialstatebook.com and email me your email addy at socialnerdia(at)gmail(dot)com
Yes, automation has a time and place, in all kinds of marketing. Scheduling a post is a form of automation and forgetting that you're automating the communication of messages, as simple and routine as they may be, can be quite a problem. For example, the NRA most likely forgetting about it's recent Friday tweet that was seen as insensitive due to the Aurora CO shooting. Automation should be carefully planned, reviewed, and consistently modified as necessary.
I agree that numbers should not be our priority and that anyone who focuses solely on numbers is totally missing the mark. That being said though, part of the opportunity in social media is enhanced communications and that means more reach and frequency in a more cost-effective manner. Being able to reach millions through social media is pretty amazing, but as you said, it is meaningless unless there's substance. We need to see the value in each conversation, each customer, each opportunity to enhance experiences. And we also need to make sure that what we're doing is creating new opportunities and growth because otherwise there might not be as much substance as we think there is. This is why earned + paid + owned is so important. Gotta start with "earned."
Another very important piece is realizing that you can't just throw money at something and not measure its value. Fortunately and unfortunately, the size of social communities is the easiest way to keep track. And let's be honest, if you are doing a good job... people will follow/like you.
Size definitely matters but it's only a way to measure and to get to real goals like awareness, conversations, and relationships.
Microsoft owning about 3% of Publicis is the most interesting part about all this. They will definitely "partner" on a lot of efforts. I just hope Razorfish keeps innovating and doing great digital marketing/advertising.