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These days, social media marketing is incredibly important. After all, most young people spend significant amounts of time on social media networks. In order to make our social media marketing more effective, it is necessary to try to find any tool that can help us streamline and optimize our postings.
Social media automation tools sound like they can be of extreme help to us, but what exactly can they automate? Will using these tools in some way harm our engagement, authenticity, or potentially restrict our social media accounts? While most tools won’t restrict our accounts when used properly, responsibility is always important. Let’s look at ways we can use these tools to our best advantage.
What are Automation Tools in Social Media?
Any tool that allows you to bypass direct interaction on a social media platform and automatically perform a task for you. This way, you can do more on social media in less time, without sacrificing much in terms of authenticity and responsiveness.
These tasks and parameters for social media automation are what you configure in any social media automation tool. For instance, scheduling a post to publish at a later time on a 3rd party application is one such example of social media automation that most of us are familiar with and probably utilizing. Other tools let you respond to questions or messages from your audience without logging into the social media accounts themselves, saving time.
How Do I Automate My Social Media?
First, you need to have a process in order to automate. In other words, the starting point for automation is always having a social media strategy and a way to execute it effectively. Many businesses and marketers make the mistake of allowing the tool to define the process, but the idea about leveraging automation is to simply save time and perhaps execute without error the tasks that you normally do.
Without this safeguard, there’s a significant risk that automating the process will result in your staff simply herding cats. Or working at cross-purposes without intending to do so. Each of these possibilities is suboptimal and can cause significant damage to your social media presence. At best, the lack of a process will reduce the effectiveness of your efforts.
What Can Social Media Automation Tools Actually Automate? Here are 10 Things for Starters!
If you do a search for social media automation tools (perhaps that’s how you found this article), you will find a lot of information about (and promotion from) various social media tools, but what can you actually automate? In short, just about everything besides forming and altering your strategy, and responding to customer input. Let’s break this down further.
1. View and Engage with Multiple Social Media Feeds and Notifications in One Dashboard
This is a core functionality of social media automation tools that consolidates all of your feeds, notifications, and messages into one dashboard and allows you to engage with them. While Hootsuite was the first tool to introduce the concept of combining multiple social networks into a singular feed, SproutSocial became famous for integrating all of your social media notifications into a unified Social Inbox. This feature has now been replicated by most social media dashboards. And the thing is, marketers love this type of feature because it is incredibly efficient and easy to use. Ideally, the social media tools you choose will integrate well with other marketing software.
2. Create Content
Some of these social media automation tools allow you to easily create content by automatically generating multiple designs for you to use. For example, Tailwind Create gives you great ideas based on your initial content. So, if you have a product-based image, Tailwind will suggest different ways to package it. Just pick the ones you like.
Other tools like Social Pilot allow you to upload content from other sources like Dropbox or Box.com to use in content creation. This especially comes in handy when your company has a content creation team that’s remote or purchases content elements through outside sources.
3. Publish Content Across Multiple Platforms
Publishing content in more than one place is the core functionality that most social media dashboards have. This is especially useful when you want to use the same basic content across platforms, such as a photo on both Instagram and Pinterest. In addition, multi-platform publishing is handy when you wish to promote a piece of content on one platform across the others, like a LinkedIn blog post shared on Twitter.
4. Schedule Posts to Publish Later
Most social media automation tools, and dashboards, in particular, let you schedule posts for later. This way, your marketing team can schedule a week or more worth of content in advance. Once that’s done, staff only need to monitor any interaction with the content and intervene when a planned post becomes inappropriate.
Further Reading: The 22 Best Twitter Schedulers to Ramp Up Your Twitter Marketing
5. Republish Content
Some social networks do not encourage this, but where possible, some of these tools allow you to easily or automatically republish the same content to get the biggest impact on your content. Most tools also let you change the post a bit to conform with platform rules. For example, Meet Edgar makes the posting of evergreen content easier than ever. We’ll talk about this tool later on.
6. Curate Content to Publish
Some tools feature curated content inside their dashboard that you can easily schedule to publish. This is usually an easy click and drag or select and create a format for ease of use. Other tools include features, like RSS integration, which allow you to automatically curate content to publish. Here, you’ll have to import the content into your program.
Want an example of collaboration between marketing tools? BuzzSumo allows you to find curate content and export a CSV file which some of the dashboards will allow you to upload to publish. This way, the social media automation tools will take the tedious work out of selecting content.
Further Reading: The Top 23 Content Curation Tools to Use in 2022
7. Compile Social Media Analytics
Some social media automation tools will provide you with various social media analytics in a convenient way. The numbers provide you instant insights that you might have missed or would have taken a much longer time to calculate. From there, you can more quickly pivot your content strategy to maximize impact.
Further Reading: 5 Ways to Leverage Social Media Analytics for Your Business
8. Automated Social Media Marketing Report Generation
Some social media automation platforms will take their analytics and generate a full-fledged monthly report that you can use for your clients (if you are an agency) or with your boss (if you are corporate). With automatic report generation, you take a lot of the guesswork out of deciding when to update stakeholders. And, it shortens prep time for meetings.
9. Automated Responses
This usually comes in the form of saved replies allowing you to semi-automate your engagement. While they aren’t as personal as responses that are generated in life, they do help make your workday easier and save time.
Obviously, there are additional tools not mentioned here that integrate with Facebook Messenger or allow you to build your own chatbot and have more fully automated conversations with your customers, but this goes a little beyond the scope of this post.
Further Reading: The 11 Facebook Messenger Management Tools You Should Know
10. Social Media Ads Automation
Some platforms here can help you automatically boost content published to Facebook. Posts are often selected based on algorithms or preset criteria from your social media strategy, illustrating why having a set process is so important. Automation tools can specialize in one or multiple platforms.
Further Reading: The Top 16 Facebook Ads Tools You Didn’t Even Know Existed
Once you have an idea of what you want to automate, let’s now look at the top 15 social media automation tools.
The Top 13 Social Media Automation Tools
You should note that none of these are pure social media automation tools: They are social media marketing tools that have automation functionality. That’s because most people who need social media automation also do marketing for their brands. With that in mind let’s dig deeper and look into the key areas where each tool can help you with your social media automation.
What began as a WordPress plugin (for those that remember) to help bloggers get their content shared on social media is now a Bonafede social media dashboard. As part of the Buffer platform, you can perform a wide variety of social media marketing tasks. Arguably, the most famous feature is post scheduling according to queues (which Buffer is best known for), including the option to generate an automated scheduler. This way, you can almost set and forget your social media publishing for a week or two. Or even longer, if needed, though there’s a higher chance you’ll need to jump in and change something.
However, Buffer isn’t done when you push the schedule. The app will automatically include the first comment when publishing on Instagram, often used to keep hashtags out of your main description. This way, people will have more ways to find and engage with your content.
Then, you can monitor the success of your campaigns with Buffer’s automated social media analytics report generation. These include robust social media analytics to let you know when to post what type of content at which frequency. And, as you pivot strategy, changing the publishing schedule is a snap.
If your brand has an international presence, check this one out. Hootsuite features post scheduling across a wide variety of international social networking platforms. And, to help with time zones it has the best time to publish feature so you don’t need to guess.
Need to use the same basic content in many places? You can customize the content of a single post for multiple platforms so you don’t send the same message everywhere, but you also avoid having to create each piece of content from scratch.
Hootsuite is also great for larger companies since you can bulk schedule up to 350 posts at a time. In addition, Hootsuite Inbox features saved replies to allow you to quickly engage back with your customers. These features are huge timesavers and help ensure no comment falls through the cracks.
Companies that do a lot of social media-based advertising need to check out these social media automation tools, too. Hootsuite Social Advertising allows you to test and reallocate budget to higher performing ads on Facebook and Instagram automatically. During and after a campaign, you’ll get automated social media reporting through Hootsuite Analyze. It’s a great way to maximize your dollars.
Agorapulse is among the best social media automation tools because it provides a comprehensive and unified social inbox. This inbox lets you manage communication from all platforms in one dashboard that includes the ability to filter out irrelevant conversations as well as saved replies so you can focus your replies on what’s most relevant.
In addition, Agorapulse is unique in allowing you to manage Facebook and Instagram Ads comments from within the same dashboard that you use to manage organic engagement. At the same time, you can schedule content for each platform and easily customize it for each social network, increasing its impact.
Another great feature of this tool is that it offers robust automation around the publishing of content according to content category schedule and includes features such as republishing and the bulk upload of posts through a CSV file or RSS feed. If you pull a lot of content from curation tools, this is invaluable.
Finally, Agorapulse helps you demonstrate ROI with automated social media reporting across platforms through its Power Reports in PPT formats or by exporting the raw data to CSV for your manipulation. This way, you have the right information at your fingertips.
Marketing teams that collaborate with remote teams regularly should check out SocialPilot. That’s because not all social media automation tools are as wonderful about bringing in content from other applications. On the other hand, SocialPilot lets you create content from Box.com or Dropbox uploads. Then, you have access to curated content for you to use based on your needs as well as RSS feed imports.
In addition, SocialPilot has more standard automation tools. For instance, they facilitate post scheduling, including the ability to repeatedly publish posts at certain time intervals as well as bulk upload 500 posts. If your company has lots of brands, or you’re an agency, this is a huge time saver.
Finally, SocialPilot’s social media analytics allow you to reshare popular posts directly from your calendar and automatically boost Facebook posts from within the post composer. This way, you only need to work with the boosted post once.
Marketers that “geek out” on the latest technology will love Sprout Social. This tool features ViralPost, which uses AI to determine the best time to send out your post and automatically publishes it for you when your followers are most engaged. No guessing required. Sprout also includes a Bot Builder which allows you to create customer support chatbots for Twitter, so people who like getting answers on this platform will get the instant results they deserve.
Sprout also supports saved replies and assets, allowing you to semi-automate your engagement yet make it feel personalized. Similarly, the app provides automated social media reports and allows you to schedule them to send to up to 25 people on a monthly or even weekly basis. That way, reporting to clients or managers is a snap.
Finally, SproutSocial has content curation features through “Content Suggestions.” Simply tell the AI assistant what types of content you’re looking for-or let it analyze your existing content for inspiration.
Simply put, IFTTT allows you to automate activities inside or between social media apps as well as with other apps such as Dropbox, Gmail, and even other social media automation tools like Buffer. This way, everything in your tech stack plays nice with each other through applets. According to the developers, popular “recipes” include: keep your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures in sync, saving your new Instagram photos to Dropbox, posting Facebook Page updates to LinkedIn Pages via Buffer, and tweeting your Instagram posts as native photos on Twitter. Cool, huh?
Zapier is similar to IFTTT as it allows you to automate tasks between online services in a customized way and over hundreds of applications. And, similar to IFTTT recipes there are several thousand pre-configured “Zaps” that you can utilize, reducing your workload further.
Zapier is an enterprise-grade platform that is the default standard for supporting automation between online services. For Facebook alone, you can automate functionality specific to Facebook Lead Ads, Facebook Pages, Facebook Conversions, Facebook Custom Audiences, Facebook Messenger, Facebook Offline Conversions, and Facebook Groups. That’s without mentioning the other social media platforms that this tool helps to use. In other words, Zapier is one of the more versatile social media automation tools.
Crowdfire is a general social media dashboard with rich functionality. Notably, the app helps with content curation (including RSS integration), including images for Instagram as well as your own blog posts, Shopify store products, and YouTube account. This way, you need not worry about importing those content pieces into the app.
Besides curation, Crowdfire helps you publish to multiple social networks. You can schedule posts in advance using their best time to post recommendations for each account as well as the queue for up to 7 days. This way, scheduling can become a weekly activity.
Crowdfire’s value among social media automation tools doesn’t end when you hit publish. The app has an automated report builder, including competitor analysis and advanced social media analytics. This way, you can easily make changes to your social media strategy and fine-tune your content creation for maximum impact.
For agencies, Sendible is one of the best social media automation tools because of its scalability. As for features, Sendible makes posting a snap, such as through content suggestions provided to help you curate content. And once you’ve found great stuff, they provide a “content library” to allow you to store saved replies and groups of hashtags. This way, you can add those items again later.
Don’t have much time for posting? With Sendible you can upload bulk posts to schedule or use their RSS feed support to automatically create content. You can also create pre-set schedules according to content category queues. Sendible is also directly integrated with Canva, Google Drive, YouTube, and Dropbox, allowing you to easily create content without jumping between applications.
Finally, Sendible helps save time by letting you build and automatically send custom reports to stakeholders, such as clients and corporate managers.
Tailwind is a visual social media marketing tool that helps you manage Pinterest and more recently Instagram. And unlike many other social media automation tools, Tailwind is free.
However, just because it is free, doesn’t mean the tool is trash. Tailwind Create automates the creation of visual posts by providing almost unlimited design options based on your input variables. Once you’ve designed content, Tailwind SmartLoop allows you to repeatedly publish “loops” of content to your Pinterest profile.
Since getting content discovered on Instagram isn’t always easy, their Instagram hashtag recommendations and saved hashtag groups creation help you cut through the noise. Finally, the app gives your best time to post on Instagram and Pinterest based on your social network engagements.
Meet Edgar does one thing and does it very well: allows you to intelligently schedule your content in queued categories that will repeat so that your feeds are never empty. So, if you have a small team, this is one of the best social media automation tools to streamline content creation.
However, the app does more than pull content. Meet Edgar also supports the auto-generation of 5 variations on every update with the click of a button. Finally, it supports A/B test variations on your updates to test and find your most engaging content. This way, you aren’t blindly posting everything Edgar offers. Instead, you can maximize the tool’s impact.
With Social Bee, you can schedule content across social media platforms organized by category, where each content category has its own scheduling queue. You can choose to repeatedly post content and even choose to expire the content at a certain date or after publishing x number of times so the content never gets old. And when posting, you can automatically add hashtags and UTM parameters to queued content in a particular category.
In addition, Social Bee is more versatile than most, because it supports RSS and CSV as well as Pocket, Quuu, and Zapier integrations to easily import content to your queues. Finally, for brands that cater to young people, it’s one of the few social media dashboards right now that allows you to publish on TikTok.
This tool is brought to you by the folks who created Hey Summit (they actually developed this tool first!). Missinglettr’s core tool is its Drip Campaigns feature, which automatically takes your blog content and automates the scheduling of multiple posts related to it over the course of a year. Missinglettr also uses AI to extract the most valuable quotes and images from your content, which can then be posted elsewhere.
Besides working with content you’ve developed in-house or commissioned, Missinglettr has added a Curate feature providing you hand-selected and curated content to publish. Then, analytics provides the best time to post by automatically measuring the engagement that you’re receiving to suggest optimal times. This takes much of the guesswork out of post timing.
Social media marketing is a time-consuming task if you must do everything manually. Leveraging some of the automation features of these tools will help you save time to invest in genuinely engaging with other social media users. Take advantage of these features where it makes sense to do so and use the time you save wisely!
Hero photo by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash
Social Media Automation FAQs
There are a number of ways to automate social media. One popular method is to use a third-party platform such as Hootsuite or Buffer. These platforms allow you to schedule posts in advance and track your analytics so you can see what content is performing well. Another way to automate social media is to use IFTTT recipes. IFTTT is a free online service that lets you create simple automation tasks, called “recipes.” There are also a number of plugins and add-ons that can help you automate social media tasks.
Social media automation can help you make the most of your time on social media, especially freeing up your time from doing simple, tedious tasks. Automation can also allow you to target specific demographics with your content, and track the performance of your posts over time. And most importantly, it can help you maintain a consistent presence even when you’re unable to be active yourself.
Facebook’s use of automation is a hotly contested topic. Some say that the company relies too heavily on algorithms to determine what content is shown in users’ news feeds, while others argue that automation is necessary to keep the site running smoothly. However, there is no doubt that Facebook does use some automated processes. For example, the site automatically generates previews for links that are shared by users. These previews help to ensure that users see relevant information before they click on a link.
Yes, you can automate your social media posts. There are a number of tools and platforms that allow you to do this, including Hootsuite, Buffer, and Sprout Social. Automating your social media posts can help you to save time and ensure that your content is consistent. However, it is important to remember that automation should not be used as a replacement for human interaction. In order to be truly successful on social media, you need to make sure that you are engaging with your audience on a regular basis.
There are a number of free tools that can help you to automate your posts, including Hootsuite, Buffer, and Edgar. Each of these tools has its own unique features, but all of them allow you to schedule posts in advance and recycle older content. To get started, simply create an account with one of the tools and connect it to your social media accounts. Then, start creating content and scheduling it for publication. Automating your social media posts is a great way to save time and keep your content consistent.