Save your business from these social media automation mistakes

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social media automation

I appreciate time-saving social media tools as much as the next guy (or girl), but one of my pet peeves is people who use them inappropriately. More specifically, they just “set it and forget it” without giving any thought to how they’ll be perceived by their followers. I’m happy to have Anand Srinivasan join me on the soapbox today.


No matter what industry you belong to, social media has turned out to be a vital source of new leads and customers. This has made it important for businesses of all kinds to not only have a presence on services like Facebook and Twitter, but also engage with their target audience over these platforms.

But tweeting and sharing your posts on Facebook multiple times every day can be a frustrating experience. With tools like HootSuite and Buffer, it is possible to schedule posts and automate the entire process. No wonder then that a growing number of business owners, including solopreneurs, invest in such tools to automate their social media management. However, not all automation is good for business. There are many ways such social media automation processes can go wrong. In this article, we will outline some of these mistakes that can be disastrous for your business.

Spammy tagging

Tagging your customers in your tweets and Facebook posts is considered a best-practice. For instance, you could tag a customer in the retailing industry while sharing a post about how your tools are helping retailers. But there are two ways automation could go wrong here. Some social media automation tools let users reschedule the same tweet every few days. Doing this could mean your customer gets tagged for the same post every few days. Since Twitter notifies the users upon tagging, your automation could result in your customer getting spammed with Twitter notifications.

Another way such tagging could spam a customer is when the social media tools automatically tag customers who have followed them or retweeted one of their posts. While such tools exist to network with such followers and thank them for following or retweeting them, the truth is that your customers understand that this was an automated message. When this done on a regular basis, customers perceive your social media tools as spammy and tend to unfollow.

Keyword-based tweeting

One of the relatively recent automation techniques involve tracking new tweets and Facebook posts based on specific keywords related to your industry and retweeting or favoriting them automatically. For instance, if you run an online helpdesk tool, you may want to like or retweet messages from people that contains keywords like “looking for helpdesk software” or “suggest a helpdesk” – the idea is to be visible to such target customers when they are seeking you. What automation may not help with is understanding the context and semantics of the message. There have been instances when such automation tools ended up retweeting messages praising competition or those from people not happy with your service. Keyword-based social media automation is thus something that is perennially a step away from a PR nightmare.

Don’t rely so heavily on social media automation that you appear inauthentic, spammy, or worse.

Being seen as a bot

The last thing that your customers want to know is that the tweets and posts from your social media accounts are not from you but from a bot. Complete reliance on automation tools to handle your social media accounts inevitably gives the secret away, which tends to reduce the trust that customers have in your business. One way to bypass this is by reducing automation to the bare minimum and using human representatives to engage with customers. This way, businesses can always make their processes more efficient through automation without losing trust. Another way to do this is by hiring a virtual assistant instead of a social media tool to handle engagement. A well-trained VA is more equipped to take decisions that a bot cannot, and could therefore avoid disasters like tweeting posts criticizing your company or those that praise your competitors.

What other social media automation mistakes have you noticed?

Image © NiroDesign / depositphotos

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Anand Srinivasan is an Internet marketing consultant and owner of, an online lead generation service for digital marketing companies.

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  1. Avatar Sabrina Quairoli on July 22, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    I agree automation tools are great but can be quite spammy if you repeat posts too close together. Looking for a VA that can help you customize posts to your audience is best. Making a list of post examples that your audience enjoy and respond to before your meeting with a VA will give them some guidance about your audience and what posts will be appropriate.

  2. Avatar Seana Turner on July 25, 2016 at 8:52 am

    So, the one that I don’t really love is the automatic response when I follow someone on Twitter. On the one hand, it says thank you for the follow, but on the other hand, it typically asks me to “check out our FB page” or “call me for help.” It isn’t personal or social, it feels like a canned sales pitch.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 25, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      Agreed. I’ve heard that a lot of people will unfollow anyone who sends them an automated DM.

      On the other hand, it can work if it’s done really well. My sister showed me one she received that was very engaging. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what it said, but you had to read it more than once to realize it wasn’t a personal message.

  3. Avatar Autumn Leopold on July 25, 2016 at 10:37 am

    I totally agree with Seana! I never automate my thank you messages for Twitter or LinkedIn. The only auto message you’ll ever get from me is a thank you when you sign up for my e mail list or opt in to a webinar. Even then I usually follow up with a personal message. The auto thank you is more of a confirmation.
    Another good point is about tagging everytime the post repeats itself. I use Meet Edgar and don’t have it tag automatically. Once it’s posted something if I feel like tagging I will. This is a great job for a VA.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 25, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      I usually tag people when I repost something, but it’s quite a bit later. Would you find it annoying to be tagged again?

  4. Avatar Andi Willis on July 26, 2016 at 8:16 am

    I don’t mind if people tag me especially when they are sharing my own content. Like you, Janet, with the POC. I used to have an automated follow message on my Twitter account but now they make me cringe. I use automation to post content but I interact authentically and in real time.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 26, 2016 at 9:32 am

      I once used some tool that would automatically send a DM thanking someone when they retweet me – seemed like a great idea, until one of my very loyal followers told me that she received several in one day – embarrassing, but I was glad to find out so I could stop it before I destroyed my authenticity altogether!

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