Today we explore social media automation in another episode of BrandTalks podcast. Our guest is the one and only Adel de Meyer, a social media consultant and influencer!
Adel de Meyer is a New Media Specialist, Brand Ambassador, Tech Enthusiast, Trainer, and Mentor. She is listed as a Top Digital blogger and Top 20 Social Media coach.
Adel works as a Brand Influencer and a Key Opinion Leader with many different brands some of which include Hootsuite, Pitney Bowes, Later and Huawei. Adel regularly writes articles on analytics, influencer marketing, technology and social media solutions. Adel published an e-book called Social Media Automation 101 that is available on adeldemeyer.com.
Host: The first question I have for you today is a short one: why do we need social media automation?
Adel: Nowadays, everyone is becoming busier and busier in business. Even in personal lives, there are many individuals who use media automation as well. The reason for this is purely to save time, to be more efficient and productive in business. On the other side of the coin, we also have global audience these days. If I just think of my own followers, some of them are from India, South Africa, Poland, the US, and if I’m only tweeting when I’m up, I am not going to reach everyone while I’m asleep. The same is relevant for businesses today. We’ve got such a global audience that follows us and wants to stay up-to-date that it is through automation that we can reach those people around the globe. Today it’s just really to help with productivity and efficiency, saving us hours in the day on getting to everything.
Host: In short, automation can make our lives and work more effective. However, there is another side of it, as you mentioned in your eBook, namely, misusing the method. In what situations we should skip on automation and put the effort, while we can set everything in a blink of an eye?
Adel: Automation in itself is not a problem. The problem is the people who either can’t use it properly, education on how to actually use it is missing, or people who are just trying to gain the system and advance themselves, like those who bulk follow twitter followers with automation running 24/7. The following, unfollowing and simply spamming people becomes really annoying and that’s an example of a misused automation. You can also encounter pure spammers who just create and automate the 1000 posts over and over a day, which does nothing else but adding to the noise in already such a noisy place that is social media. Who needs spam tweets or spam posts on Facebook to show up in your feed? Also, when we look at Auto DM (Automated Direct Messages), it is something that a lot of people really dislike due to its impersonal nature. We very much live in an era when people want authenticity, they want companies and people to be real and we don’t want to feel like we’re being spoken to by some robot that is just set up to automatically say ‘hello, how are you? Thanks for following me’. People pick up on that drive immediately, because we’re getting so used to using social media. A few years ago those things did work fantastically, as back then people didn’t realize you could automate things or that automation was applied in a DM for instance. Therefore, it used to work really well. Even nowadays, for some companies Auto DM still works. Funny enough, some people still click on it. I suppose it just depends on the message when a person decides to check something out and see where a link takes them. In many cases, though, you would get ignored. Especially in companies, it can go wrong so quickly and escalate complaints. People might think ‘Do I mean so little to you that you just send some automated responses to me the whole day long?’. It can quickly backfire if you don’t do it correctly. Still, as previously mentioned, the biggest problem is education and not understanding how to automate correctly, what to automate and just some base practices that come into play when you do automation. I think the biggest operators obviously get this right, they understand its possible drawbacks and even do scheduling. Let’s say you do a funny campaign for the week and something like 9/11 happened on that day. You’ve got all this automated posts and jokes already set, but there’s the world crisis that happened. You need to really be on top of those things, you’re not going to look good as a company setting out your humorous campaign for the day or for the week, even though you auto-scheduled, when there’s a critical situation. All in all, you really need to be careful and make sure you keep a close eye on your automation.
Host: That brings me to those two small questions that have just come to my mind. Firstly, what do you do when you receive such an Automated Direct Message yourself? Do you react in any way or do you just skip it?
Adel: I personally just skip over. Thank goodness, we have a little preview in our twitter DM, so you can see the first sentence or so. An auto DM can be spotted immediately and I don’t even bother to read it. I have encountered some interesting DMs that have come my way from companies I follow. It had a nice greeting and something relevant for me. There are some automation tools these days that pick up on users’ bio profiles and evaluate your tweets and topics and then try and make the message more personalized. This week I followed Microsoft and I picked up that I was talking on e-commerce and influence of marketing for my tweets and the DM I received from Microsoft was actually relevant. I know that it was automated, l but it was personalized, so I don’t mind. I still clicked through the eBook that they send me, because it was relevant to me. I think it’s a very good example of getting away from being scrutinized over using too much automation, by just making sure it’s personalized.
Host: I couldn’t agree more. I just have to ask that question: Have you ever received a hilarious message or email that was automated and not even directed at you?
Adel: I have actually. I receive emails and messages mentioning things that do not correspond to me at all. I actually received something last week that was health related and said ‘we know that you’re struggling with this and this, we know you need this, click here’. On top of that, they didn’t even spell my name right. That was a complete disaster. Sometimes I also receive emails starting with ‘Hello (name surname)’, containing the brackets that you put when you write a command to insert name and surname.
Host: No doubt it might be funny for the receiver, but the company sending it loses on professionalism. You mentioned that message from Microsoft, that it was personalized but still automated. Do you think they use a specialized tool? I am particularly curious in that, as the range of tools we have is so vast, that it may sometimes be difficult to decide which the best ones are.
Adel: As for the tools I am not quite sure which one we are actually using. Regarding automation tools, we have so much in the industry right now. I think currently the automation industry is worth about 1.5 mln $ and we’ve got big enterprise label tools like HubSpot and Pardot that are leading the way. We also our sales force that is really growing in popularity for enterprise label clients. We also have some smaller scale B1s when you have your Rootsweb, Buffer, and other tools that schedule into Instagram, as Later, This River and quite a few more. The list is huge. Last week I looked into our list, and we’re setting around 25 – 35 different tools and that’s just on the small to medium size, including 5-6 of the enterprise label ones. It is a really huge industry and probably there is a new tool coming out every week. Some of the tools are better for individuals, like Rootsweb, the Buffer. We also have the other kind, like IFTTT and Zaipier that nearly talk to anything. They talk to your mobile phone, you can connect all your cloud tools, you can connect to the weather report and it will send you a notification with information on that. The amount of automation that tools like that can do is truly mind-blowing. You can literally plug everything you’re doing in your business and anything you’re doing in your personal life to that. Are you familiar with those tools?
Host: I am familiar with IFTTT and I find it highly useful. I think it is really incredible what we can do with it as far as the automation goes.
Adel: Exactly. With the growth of internet connectivity, the internet of things which is obviously such a growing industry, I think in a few years’ time everything is going to be automated and interconnected. Literally, we will not need to do much once you set your things up. We’ll be able to do some other, more important things, like spending some time with the family.
Host: To a great extent, it is fascinating but at the same time, it is a bit scary to have everything automated. I am also for personalisation in messages and so on, but it is tempting to use tools for sending emails. I am aware that the tools put names in emails and every message looks like custom written for you, even if it isn’t. The potential in automation is undoubtedly huge and I am a huge fan of IFTTT myself. As for the future of automation, your scenario of having everything automated is highly probable. Let’s leave tools for now and talk about good tactics and case studies. Thinking about those, do you have any specific example on your mind?
Adel: There actually is something that I always like mentioning. Just to wrap up on automation, you always need to have the customer in mind while applying it. Think automation from the other side, how you would feel to receive this or that response via Social Media. Anything that has a human interaction, should be human interacting. When addressing issues or welcoming people, I don’t think we’re at the point where robots can do that properly. There is a test being performed, an emerging industry at the moment, namely a chat box. It is growing and I presume from the next year it will take off quite well. The chat box will actually be running conversations, like in Facebook messenger or What’up or on companies’ websites. They are being tested and most of the chat boxes are still quite sketchy and sounding personal, but they are really getting better. What I wanted to say is, when you’ve automated stuff to take the time off your hand for your business, half the time is available to have someone in your team to do the engagement. Something that I like mentioning on this is Buffer, which is an automation tool. What they do is they have a set of volunteers around the globe that actually respond every single day on every single tweet that they get on twitter. Now, Buffer is extremely busy on Twitter and get a lot of mentions. They do the customer service and everything via twitter. I can literally say, no one tweet goes unanswered. I appreciate it from a company like that, that they make sure and provide the customer service. They’ve got a massive, engaged community, sharing their stuff and using their product. Because what makes a person feel better if not a company taking their time to respond to their tweet. Overall, the number of unanswered tweets is still huge, it is around 60% of all business tweets that go without responding. That is a massive opportunity for you to immediately build a brand to get someone that is going to support you, that is going to be passionate about your business. Once your customers see you actually respond to their messages, they will stick with you as a business. Even if you did something really but, but addressed it later on and showed that you cared, you might actually still keep that customer.
Host: As for the case study you’ve mentioned, in such a situation we could also use social media monitoring, couldn’t we?
Adel: Oh, yes. This is exactly why I use Brand24. It’s so great at keeping up-to-date information. It goes without saying that you have to have good brand monitoring in place, doesn’t matter who you are. If you have any social media channels, you’re blogging or anything like that, you need to have a good media monitoring tool. From and individual, to the biggest enterprise company, social media monitoring is essential. Thanks to you, Brand24, I never miss an important mention across the internet, which is fantastic. I can rest assured that I can just pop in quickly and see exactly what is going on and respond to things I might have missed before. We all know that social media is such a noisy place.
Host: Thank you very much for recommending us. Thought it wasn’t my intention to promote Brand24 with the question, it does mean a lot to us. I’d like to emphasize that it is really important to track what people say about you and your products, services or work.
Adel: You also want to see your sentiment, like what day of the week most people engage with you or other things. They say data is a marketer’s best frame and I think data’s everybody’s best frame, isn’t it? That is what gives you answers.
Host: I think communication is very important, but it is data that helps companies grow. I can’t imagine any company managing without data and the insights from it. I agree with you completely. I’d like to focus on Facebook a bit, as for some people Facebook means social media. Not for experts who have the bigger picture, but for the majority Facebook is the main window to the social media platforms. Do you think Facebook’s position is safe or that the growing number of useful apps and tools can size its piece in the market in the future?
Adel: I personally do believe that Facebook is here to stay. It is just too big a part of everyone’s lives, including our family and our friends. For example, my mom is on Facebook, but you won’t find her on Snapchat or Instagram. Everybody knows Facebook, it is a household name, as Coke is for example. What’s more, Facebook is constantly updating their features, trying to make it easy for everyone around the globe to communicate and to express themselves. Facebook is continually working very hard to make the app run extremely fast and smoothly for the Third World countries where the Internet is a problem. They really try to make the app load fast and easy to use so that people can be connected. Facebook’s live streaming is also growing in popularity. They also recently updated Instagram, to now also feature stories like Snapchat does. They are constantly staying ahead of the game, they can see what is going on, know what people like and they adjust. That is going to be very hard for any business to take on. We do see ups and downs with Facebook in terms of usage, we do see the youths and teenagers being very much off and on, definitely not being a stable demographic. The most stable one is actually from about mid 20 up until around 55-year-olds. So the younger generation tends to jump on and off, especially when a new platform comes out, like Snapchat, which became the ‘go-to’ platform for them. A lot of young people, my own son including, use Skype a lot for example for playing games. But when they’re not on Skype, they’re on Fb messenger and they talk there. So they are very much in a private mindset of internal conversations and not so much on posting status updates and liking things. With that being said, Facebook is just going to keep on growing and is definitely here to stay. If we look at the advertising abilities of Facebook, I really think you can’t beat it. It is extremely cost-effective and targeted. In fact, the accuracy of targeting in Facebook apps is sometimes even creepy (laughing). So there is just too many reasons for people to be there.
Host: That is actually what happens, that when looking for information about a company, we go to the website or their Facebook page. As for the future of Facebook, you might be right. I am curious what will it look like, because we can see features every month or more often. I am quite certain that what you said is true, that it will be growing. I wonder if there will be anyone brave enough to try and beat Facebook in the future. Google + tried but didn’t manage, because as you said, it is a household name like the Coke. My last question applies to different platforms, not only Facebook. I’d like to ask for your opinion for what is more important: Having more than thousands of fans on your fan page or having more or less 1000 fans that are highly engaged?
Adel: That is a very good question. We all tend to think that bigger numbers mean better results and in some cases that is true, but not in all of them. Especially when it comes down to engagement. There is no point in finding followers or trying to gain the system just to grow this massive number of followers or likes with people not being interested in what you have to say. With Facebook’s organic reach, we need to keep in mind that the higher your likes go on your page, the lower the visibility because the organic reach at the moment is about 8 – 10 %. So, you want to remember that if you just buy likes of random people, of the wrong target group, the people who do care about your product might not see your message because you’ve plugged it into so many people that weren’t interested. Therefore, I think that the engagement rate is always on top of the list. There’s no point in having 1000 views on your page and 1 conversion. Likes and comments in themselves mean nothing. What you really want is for people to stay, to become your followers and take action, by going through to your website and downloading your eBook, for instance. It all needs to start with a healthy engagement rate and this should definitely be first on your mind. Think about the customer journey and how to keep them there. Think of researching and making sure you understand your company’s story and that you are able to first retell it and later monitor and see if you’re telling it right. The only way to find that out is through your engagement rate. So don’t worry if you only have 1000 likes as long as people as talking about you, sharing your content and taking action. That is much more priceless than having 100 000 likes with no action taking place.
Host: What a great summary with so many tips! I’d like to thank you for the time, the insights and the great amount of information you shared with us. I truly hope to talk to you again.
Adel: Thank you as well.