The Difference Between Automation & Scheduling in Social Media

Chris Naff - September 24, 2014

Do you automate your social media updates? Or do you schedule your updates? If do you one or both, you’re not alone. The two methods sound similar, but there is a difference. The distinction may sound semantic, but it is important to understand these terms.

Scheduling consists of creating an update in advance and setting it to be posted at a later date and time. Tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to craft the copy of your post, add rich media (such as an image or perhaps include a relevant link), and then schedule the post at a later date. Facebook has a very robust scheduling feature as well.

Automating is a way to duplicate your updates across multiple social channels. At first that may sound like an easy solution to the challenge of keeping multiple accounts active, but there are potential downfalls that you’ll want to avoid.

Automating is different from scheduling in that it allows you to make one update and post it to multiple channels. The result is that your audience sees the same content in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and wherever else you automate the updates.

The caveats to automating social media posts are:

  1. It’s repetitive to members of your audience who are following you in multiple channels
  2. The content will not be native to each platform and its unique features

Simply observing one post made on social media can be very telling as to how serious a brand takes their social media marketing efforts. For example, if a LinkedIn update includes hashtags, it’s likely that the post is being duplicated from Twitter and/or Facebook.

Why can we make that assumption? Because although hashtags do have functionality on Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms, they do not work in LinkedIn. Although a post like that is easy to create and then duplicate, it will not be native to LinkedIn. As another example, if you see Twitter @handles in a Facebook status update, that’s a sign that the update is coming from a Twitter account or automating tool.

When you schedule an update, you don’t have to automate the post to multiple channels. So why do so many marketers choose to do it? Because it’s an easy way to keep all of their social channels active.

You have to think about the end user: People sign-up for Twitter for a different reason than Facebook. Therefore, when creating content to share with your audience, keep in mind the culture of each network. It is nearly impossible to accomplish this when you automate duplicate content across multiple channels. Fortunately, you can still remain native to different social media platforms while enjoying the benefits of scheduling tools.

Considering all that is required for your social media marketing efforts to be a success, it is understandable why marketers try to make the process seamless. There are many tools in the market today that help you to plan, organize and schedule your updates. Tools such as these can be a big help, especially if your resources are limited.

However, don’t allow these tools to become a temptation to take shortcuts. The more shortcuts you take, the more diminished your returns may be.

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