To Automate or Not To Automate

I’ve been going through a bit of an internal struggle with Social Media Automation lately…

Social Media Automation (loosely defined for the purposes of this article) is when you batch update a social media account (like Twitter or Facebook) by lining up a bunch of posts in advance, scheduled out to appear over a certain period of time. Advanced scheduling happens with blogs, too – there are features directly built into WordPress and TUMBLR that allow for this, but if you’re trying to schedule updates in advance for Twitter or Facebook, you’ve got to go through a third party system like Hootsuite, Cotweet or SocialOomph. (Hootsuite is my fave because you’re able to post to both Twitter and Facebook, set up keyword search feeds and the pro version is only $6/month.)

“ I don’t use that as often as I thought I would,” Knud Berthelsen shared,  “but it works very well if you have a large list of non-newsy updates you want to make. Also if you just have too much to share in one day, you might as well schedule some of it for later.”

Sounds really convenient, right? Well it is. But it’s sort of lacking in that whole “real-time nowness” that most people love about social media.

So when do you use it and when do you not use it?

Aura Fedora also weighed in on her personal strategy: “ In terms of planning articles and information or campaigns, it’s a great tool for maintaining content in a timely manner. When events or hot new topics come up, I try to bring in some interaction or an up to date post. As a consumer, I’m turned off by accounts that only generate automated posts and I especially find auto-DM’s annoying, so I avoid being ‘that person.'”

And I really think that @rahblah’s post sums it up best:

So what are your thoughts? Is automation good, bad or somewhere in between? What are your rules of thumb?