By @TheMarkDalton

Social Media Automation. One of the very hotly debated topics between social media marketers, should you do it or should it always be 100% you sitting at a device sending content at that moment? You can argue the point either way, however what I want to talk about this morning is specifically relevant to Twitter and why I stopped all automated content on Twitter.

Let’s start by getting the obvious out of the way. When I talk about Twitter automation I am talking about automating tweets in the timeline. I have never used an auto DM system and I never will. Auto DM’s are absolutely atrocious, unwanted, spammy messages when you follow someone asking to buy their book, like their Facebook page or visit their site.

Nobody likes getting an auto DM and when I do get one I follow this procedure of going to the profile, hitting the unfollow button, back into messages and then deleted the unwanted crap I have been sent. If you use auto DMs then please go to whatever system you use to generate an automated response and remove it’s permissions right now.

So, onto what I really want to discuss, automated tweets in the timeline. This has been a tactic that I have used for quite some time now. As a content producer you want to keep users coming back and because Twitter has a noise problem you need to continually share content over and over again with different copy so that you reach more people.

The easiest way to do this with minimum effort is to sign up to a platform such as Buffer and set up a schedule to share content. Then simply keep throwing your content into Buffer and it will automatically be pushed out based on the schedule you have in place. Easy right? Absolutely, it is a great way to keep the content moving and to keep pushing people down the funnel and into your website.

This is a widespread practice used by a lot of people. In particular, people producing content at scale for websites (like myself) can keep pushing at scale with the click of a button. However, over the past number of months I have noticed a problem with this tactic I have been using specifically on Twitter.

I want to emphasise that this is how I feel about automating tweets on Twitter. I’m not telling you to stop your Twitter automation, you can continue using it if you wish. I’m not telling you to sit in front of a screen or be glued to a mobile device to sent content out, you don’t have to. I’m telling you what I do so that way there can be no confusion.

I used Buffer to schedule my tweets and I had 4-5 slots set up for each day. At night, before going to bed I would spend about 10-15 minutes looking up interesting content online, reading a few articles and then throwing them into my Buffer queue. Then they would go out at specified times the following day without me having to pay attention to them.

This was great and I used this system for a long time. However in the past six months something has stood out to me about Twitter which compelled me to dump the entire automation tactic I was using completely and post everything to Twitter while I was sitting there with my own two thumbs. So what was it that I realised?

Twitter is live. Sounds simple right? Well it is simple, I always knew that Twitter is “live” of course but I never really took that into account when it came to scheduling content. The reason why that is important is because when atrocious news breaks Twitter is typically where people head and start talking about it.

So lets say that a terrorist incident happens somewhere in the world at 10:04am and I have a tweet scheduled to go out at 10:10am which is about how you can boost your Twitter followers. How bad does it look when people are talking about a terrible event taking place somewhere in the world and I am sending out a stupid tweet at that moment trying to promote a blog? Hint: Really stupid!

I soon started to understand that automating in a live environment such as Twitter meant I was sacrificing all kinds of control over what may be going out from my account at inappropriate times. Its different on Facebook and LinkedIn where I continue to push content using automated systems. Facebook and LinkedIn are not places that people go to talk about events as they happen in real time so pushing automated content there is not going to have the same potential consequences if you happen to push something out at a “bad time.”

So what should you do? Well I can’t answer that for you. You should do whatever you feel more comfortable with. That could be using automated tools or doing it all then and there on the fly. The pros and cons can and will be argued either way.

Some people will say that they provide greater value by not using automated tools, personally I don’t really agree with that. The value is in the content you put out there, not the tool you use to share it. So certainly don’t think that using something such as Buffer diminishes value in your content – that is not the case.

For me, I have found a balance between automating content on Facebook and LinkedIn while posting every tweet then and there on either my computer or iPhone. People using automated tools now may worry about the inconvenience of doing that however for me it has not been an issue.

I generally have my phone out most of the time. I’m like a multitasking master where I can listen, engage in conversation and work on my phone at the same time. Of course that doesn’t mean that I am going to be sitting through a client meeting with my head in my iPhone, clients get my 100% undivided attention when they are with me. Just don’t be alarmed when we are talking and I pull out my phone and do something real quick on there like take a snap, send a tweet or fire off a quick email.

Of course that is not going to be practical for everyone. How you approach your social media automation tactics is ultimately up to you, just take into consideration what could be potentially happening on the platform at different times when you put that content into an automated queue.

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