Don't Use Social Media Automation to Communicate Blindly
How Social Media Automation Can Both
Help & Harm Your Communication
By giving people the power to share, we're making the world more transparent.
- Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
Social media offers a window to the world. Sometimes that window is transparent, like Zuckerberg imagined.
Other times, automated messages and prompts can make our communication cloudy.
The key is to not communicate blindly. Think about every thumbs-up you click, every message you type, and every tweet you retweet, and you, too, can embrace the great power of social media.
Social Media Automates Your Routine
Social media has become another step in our daily routine - a quick five minute check for notifications paired beautifully with a fresh cup of coffee and the morning news.
Social sites try to make these five minutes count. They offer automated prompts to give us direction and a canned message of what to say.
For example, on LinkedIn, whenever one of your connections starts a new job or celebrates a work anniversary, LinkedIn extends a hand. Their automated messages say:
Here, buddy, why don’t you just send this automated “Congrats on the new job!” message. We know you have a lot to do, let us take care of it for you.
It’s easy enough, right? It may be easy, yes. But, I have found that there are some faults in social media automation, too.
How Social Media Prompts Can Help
1 Reminders alert you to important events in your colleagues’ lives
When your to-do list is a mile high, reminder notifications and automated responses can keep you on top of all the birthdays and work anniversaries you need to recognize.
Social media platforms like Twitter can even automate “thank you” direct messages to individuals who follow your company, connecting all the dots of communication.
2 Automated messages enforce positive interactions
By directing you to “wish her a happy birthday” or “reply to President Obama”, social media will make it easier to reach out.
Generic or spiced up with creativity, any message can make a difference and strengthen your connections. However, your interactions will continue to grow if you are a genuine communicator.
How Social Media Prompts Can Hurt Your Humanity
1 Messages are Transparently Generic and Robotic
“Congrats on the new job” is okay, but the receiver can easily feel like a box to check off on your to-do list.
It’s your job to expand on the generic prompt. Use the automated prompt as a guide, not a get-away car.
Connect with others the way you would in real life. Be conversational, be unique, and be you! If you would crack a joke, crack a joke. If you would address your connection like she was the queen of England, by all means, bow and curtsy.
Furthermore, if you let social media automation do all the work for you, your message will sound insincere and almost robotic.
Are you really wishing me a “Happy Birthday”, or is it your personal assistant Siri?
2 Inaccuracies Are All Too Frequent
LinkedIn can’t possibly cover every accomplishment in the B2B marketing world with one message.
Did your connection really start a new job, or was he appointed to a board of directors? If you take that extra step to ensure accuracy, your online communication will be much more genuine.
Another reason not to communicate blindly online: People lie on the internet. What?!?
Whether they’re lying about their age or when their birthday is, it’s always good to check more than one source if you don’t know the person that well.
How Different Social Sites Handle Automation - What Works and What Doesn’t
When it comes to social media automation, LinkedIn tries to do all the work for you. Perhaps it’s because LinkedIn is geared towards already time-starved professionals and the platform is trying to make it easy to use.
But this can result in a kind of mindless communication on LinkedIn. Just clicking the “Send” button ships out a canned message LinkedIn crafted.
As we mentioned before, this really can strip the message of sincerity - the same sincerity that B2B marketing thrives on.
For example, when you send an invitation to connect with someone on LinkedIn, the same automated message appears: Hi Jane Doe, I’d like to join your LinkedIn network.
To gain even more connections, add to that statement. You could explain why you might be interested in connecting with them, or introduce yourself in your own words.
If that sounds like a lot to think about, first check out these invitation guidelines.
When it comes to birthday messages on social media, Facebook gives you an extra nudge, but it doesn’t do the work for you.
You don’t have to sign your post like old Aunt Nelly with XOXO, but - like any message - you should try to think of who you’re writing to.
If your friend is obsessed with cheesecake, wish her a day that’s as sweet as the largest slice of cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries and chocolate drizzle.
Words can do powerful (and delicious) things...so use them!
Twitter gives you even more control over what you write on social media, but they set standards to ensure you send it to the correct person in the correct context.
Often, the individual must first consent to receiving automated messages to protect them from spam.
If you want to automate anything, it should be for the community’s benefit, Twitter says. For example, this company responds to questions on Twitter with airfares:
For more information on Twitter’s automation rules, check out their informational page.
Use Your Own Discretion: Rules Won’t Protect You
No matter the rules placed or the social norms accepted, make your own decisions when communicating online, and be wary of social media automation. Don’t communicate blindly.
Wipe off the condensation on your communication window, and reveal your true self. Honesty and sincerity can go a long way in this world.