Don't get me wrong, I adore services like Buffer and Hootsuite and use both all the time. Maintaining a consistent presence across your social media channels is essential in not only building your following, but in building the relationships with your followers which will encourage them to buy from you.
However, social media automation tools can also damage your social media efforts in the very way they're meant to help it! Because queuing new content is as simple as right clicking on a webpage with these kinds of services, anyone can easily fill their feed with miles content and turn their social media platforms from an interactive space where they engage with customers, into just another channel to broadcast their message from.
Some of the issues boil down to Tweeting frequency. The "ideal" amount of tweets a company should be posting every day is a hotly contested topic amongst social media geeks, and rightly so, as your posting frequency can have a huge effect on the amount of impressions you make and engagement with your followers. However, the trend towards posting upwards of 10 tweets a day has put a lot of pressure on social media managers to hit these quotas. This pressure means that people are scrambling to share anything loosely relevant to their industry, even if what they post doesn't necessarily add much value for their followers and customers.
The problem is, because sharing content is so easy with social media automation, our threshold of what makes great, shareworthy content has been lowered. Before we all depended on automation, content had to be pretty incredible to make you think of posting it, which meant that the quality of content getting shared across social media channels was much, much higher. Even worse, because it is so easy to queue content on automation services, people inadvertently end up building up weeks' long backlogs of content, which means that by the time the content gets shared, it's not even topical anymore!
I was once hired as a consultant for a company which sold antique furniture and managed auctions. Their marketing person was so terrified of running out of stuff to post that she would, without exception, add 10 things to her Buffer every day. The problem is, she was far too busy to spend her time reading and vetting enough content to fill her 10 Tweet a day schedule, so she'd just end up adding pages based purely on the title and a cursory glance over the site. As you can imagine, much of the content she shared ended up being terrible and often completely irrelevant. Once she stopped posting compelling content, her engagement levels dropped dramatically.
Looking around Twitter, it seems like this is fairly representative of how many businesses use social media, as I can't look at my home feed these days without being drowned by a deluge of poor content which has obviously just been posted by businesses to add volume.
Even worse, to many companies, automation software has made it all too easy to merely turn their social media feeds into loudhorns for their sales pitches. Automation means that you can queue up a week's worth of promotional tweets and send them out without having to even look at your social media again. This robs businesses of the most powerful aspect of social media - the ability to engage and connect, in real time, with potential customers. Yes, social media should absolutely be used as a platform to promote yourself and amplify your message, but to be truly effective it needs to also be a listening device which allows you to reach out and connect with your customers. If all you do with your social media channels is push out a one-way conversation, why are you bothering with it at all? You might as well just put an advert in a newspaper for all it's worth.
Equally, social media is all about providing value to your readers - giving them a reason to follow, engage and ultimately buy from your brand. Therefore, the frequency of Tweets you post should not be decided by an abstract figure you read about from some marketing "guru" - it should be decided by how much truly compelling stuff you come across.
So, it's time that people stopped misusing their automation services to bludgeon their followers with volume and one-sided conversations, and started paying attention to what really matters - what your customers want to talk about.