The beauty of technology is that it makes life more streamlined – easier.

Our phones remind us of birthdays, events and, well, pretty much everything else while you don’t even need to leave the house to shop, bank or meet a partner any more.

Social media automation, through programs like Buffer and Hootsuite, means we can schedule our posts in advance for the coming week and beyond.

Automation
Tools: Social Media is like having a tool for every job, automation blunts them

 

In effect, this means you can spend an hour each week lining up your tweets (as an example,) and then not using Twitter for the next 7 days.

And this is where the issue arises.

Counter argument: Screw social media! An automator’s manifesto

What is the use of social media without the social aspect? It completely devalues the principle of the medium.

The word ‘social’ derives from the Latin socialis meaning ‘allied,’ which itself comes from socius meaning ‘friend.’

By using Hootsuite and Buffer, you’re removing yourself from the equation, offering a robot in your place – your avatar is you in name only. And who wants to be friends with a robot?

Facebook-Connections-Flickr-Creative-Commons-5260815552_8cb7affda0_b-520x258

A visualisation of Facebook connections: You have to be part of the conversation.

 

Part of the joy and entertainment value of Twitter, Google+ et al, is the interactions, amusing exchanges and debate with interesting people – this just doesn’t happen if you’re managing from afar.

If you’re not engaging, you’re simply not using any of the platforms to their full potential. Twitter is an invaluable networking tool for instance, Google+ incredibly effective at building SEO, assuming you get the +1’s.

I was discussing this issue with Sharon Tanton from Valuable Content, and she told me she rarely attends networking events, preferring instead to use Twitter to build business relationships..

Targeting key influencers on Twitter is a surefire way to build your name and reputation in your particular field, this doesn’t happen if you’re solely retweeting articles.

And I’m not just assuming it’s ineffective, myself and Tom, AbleGrad MD, had a competition (of sorts) to build our Twitter following. The challenge was 50 new followers in a week.

The message is just as relevant for social media. Don't dehumanise your engagement

Human to Human: Don’t dehumanise your engagement

Without pre-planning, he went the automated route whilst I just organically posted as and when the mood took me, retweeting yes, but also posting my own random thoughts and musings as well as entering conversation with different people.

I had built up 130 followers within 3 weeks, he had amassed around 45 – the figures speak for themselves. People on social media want to know there’s a person behind the messages.

This photo (right) was doing the rounds on LinkedIn recently, and the idea of personalisation is becoming ubiquitous in all walks of marketing, why should social media be any different?

Let me finish by saying, I fully understand why automation appears to be a good idea. It’s time consuming, in fact, probably impossible, to be ‘alive’ on every social platform and it makes it easier to maintain an active presence online.

But as with most things, it’s not enough to just be there, you need to make an impact and an impression.

Would you go to a party and stand in the corner not talking to anyone? No. Don’t be that person online either.

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I’m the Head of Content for Future Content and the man in charge of words. As a former journalist for a number of publications, from Chat to MailOnline to that’s Shanghai, I have a wealth of editorial experience and a way of making words do good.