Has Automation Killed The Social Media Star?

Joel Gascoigne created Buffer, the popular social media publishing tool, because he, like many of us, checks into Twitter and Facebook a few times a day. When he did he often found interesting content he wanted to share.

Problem was, if he loaded the updates as he found the content it would all go out at the same time. Which meant his engagement would be poor and limited to only once or a couple times a day or week. Not really a great way for an aspiring entrepreneur to build his personal brand. Since he couldn’t find a tool which exactly solved his problem, he created one of his own, which became Buffer. Over 140 million updates later, with 1.6 million users, Buffer is now as well known as its larger Canadian competitor, Hootsuite.


This simple solution, of automating social media updates, has in itself created a new problem: social media zombie accounts. Post once, post twice, post every three hours on Twitter, according to Buffer, if you want to strike the right balance on social networks.

How to spot a social media zombie?


In horror thrillers, zombies, a bit like vampires, can be identified with their unnatural, stiff, not-quite-human style of movement. There’s a natural fluidity to how the living move. The undead don’t move like that. A zombie social media account is the same; pre-loaded with automated tweets. No natural spontaneity. There’s usually very little actual engagement. Zombies don’t talk much.

Social media updates are written weeks, sometimes months in advance, to fit in with promotional activities and content calendars. Then for a change of flavor more up to date, third-party articles (depending on the sector they’re usually the same ones as many other people are posting) are thrown in for good measure.

The alternative is to be constantly engaged. Have a team which works round the clock, or as long as needed, to actually talk to your audience, post content they’re interested in, and really take a pro-active interest in maintaining a living social media presence.

Does a middle approach exist?

You can avoid boring your audience, or investing money in a constant presence, if you deploy smart social marketing automation. Throwing the same content at your audience won’t increase engagement any more than blasting them with the same email five times will increase conversion rates.

A better approach is to listen to what your customers are actually talking about. Their interests, passions, concerns, hopes, worries and aspirations. Engage with your audience on a more human level, which means listening for relevant keywords, identifying influencers and creating content around subjects which are more likely to generate traction. Social media still has a much lower ROI than email marketing; but the larger your audience on social the more data feeds into email and other sales campaigns.

The only way to build an audience which will provide ongoing value for email campaigns is to avoid becoming a zombie, which means taking the smart approach to automation. What your audience is saying, what they’re interested in, is far more important as an input signal for creating a social marketing automation strategy which will actually work.

Download our free guide, Amp your Lead Gen w/Next Gen Social, and learn what really matters with social listening and marketing automation.

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