June 15, 2017 Last updated on September 29th, 2020
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Sometimes contemplating the enormity of the task that is growing a social following for your business can be scary for a social media marketer… No surprise there. Some turn to convenient solutions to help them get results with minimal effort. That’s why today, we’re talking about social automation: friend or foe?

What is Social Automation?

Automation on social media can be considered in two ways – in my opinion, the ‘good’ way and the ‘bad’ way… From a marketing perspective in any case.

The ‘good’ way to automate your social media accounts is to hook them up to a service which will work so you don’t have to. You can use these services to automatically publish content to your various accounts thanks to triggers. Triggers can be anything from the time of the day to actions made by you. This kind of service will 100% simplify your life as a social media marketer!

Buffer is great for scheduling your media and synchronizing publication times across all your social channels. You can also use a tool called IFTTT to create rules which generate actions such as instantaneously sharing a post you’ve liked on Instagram to Facebook, for example.

I’m not even going to go into the advantages and disadvantages of adopting social automation services like these: the advantages list would be very long.

What I call ‘bad’ social automation is the kind where you sign up for automatic actions to be taken on your social media accounts on your behalf. Your account automatically likes posts containing specific hashtags defined by you, or follows accounts according to certain criteria. This can be done for various reasons, from wanting to grow your community to wanting to get more visibility on social.

Advantages and disadvantages

There is one big advantage of using bots to automate your social media… and several disadvantages. Here are the main points to be aware of.

“Automating your social media accounts to like, comment and follow on your behalf…”

  …Allows you to step back from your account and watch it grow without having to work at it

  BUT, it means that you have next to ZERO control over what your accounts are actually doing (you could end up commenting “great work!” on something you really wouldn’t want to…!)

  It also means that the new followers you’re attracting are probably uninterested in your business (they just like that you followed them). So you’re not really growing your community in a clever way

  Instagram especially, gets filled up with fake comments” which can be frustrating for businesses trying to generate REAL engagement

  Facebook has actually taken steps to put some spammy social automation services out of business. So this kind of ‘growth’ may not be available for much longer, anyway


Here’s what you should remember about automation on social media:

  • The prospect of growing your social media accounts without having to do any work sounds amazing. Strategically speaking, however, it’s one of the worst things you can do for your business’ social status
  • “Good” social automation (using services such as Buffer and IFTTT) is a great time-saver and is non-toxic to your organic social strategy
  • There are better ways of growing your Instagram account without resorting to using bots. It takes a little work, but it’s totally worth it!

Last year, we spoke about bot usage and automation on Instagram in a Facebook Live Q&A. The services mentioned (Likestagram and Instagress) no longer exist, but the points raised can still be helpful for questions about social automation.

Do you have any experience with social automation you would like to share with other marketers? Drop us a comment below!

About the author
Emily Marsh

Emily Marsh

Emily is an Inbound Marketer for Iconosquare, based in the Limoges office. She loves all things social and revels in keeping on top of the social media marketing game by writing for the blog. She’s also a bit obsessed with sushi and Netflix.

More posts by Emily Marsh

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