Having heard all of the arguments for and against, and based on some of my own experimentation, whether or not you automate posts through social media still gets answered with, “It depends.” So, focusing on the 4 major platforms, let’s look at some of the variables.
The “Pros,” or reasons for using 3rd party software for auto-posting to the various platforms all include three factors. Automated posting saves time, it allows you access to more in-depth analytics than might be available through the platform itself, and it allows you to consistently take advantage of your audience’s peak time on that platform without strapping you to your computer at a certain time every day. But what are the reasons against automated posting?
Facebook “filters” the content that users see from businesses and community pages according to a formula they call Edgerank, essentially an algorithm that determines whether or not your Fans are actually interested in what you are saying. Automated posting has been known to lower your Edgerank.*
At the moment, none of the 3rd party applications used for automated posting have been given access to Google’s API (Application Programming Interface) for creating this software. You can post from Google+ to other platforms, but not directly to Google+. Some folks speculate that by doing this, Google is ensuring that you are seeing fresh content at all times on their platform, making this one of the unique elements of Google+ for businesses.
On LinkedIn, automated posts tend to look “junky” as the hashtags and bit.ly link shorteners (or similar tools like these) clutter the text of your posts. Most savvy LinkedIn users can tell the difference between a “robotic message” and a live post, and as a more professional platform, you can imagine that the more professional look is better for your image.
While there are no penalties for automating your posts here, and no apparent reputation problems with autoposting, doing this exclusively can cause the account holder to “detach” from their own Twitter audience. By being so automated that Twitter becomes “out of sight, out of mind,” it can lead to a one way use of Twitter, rather than the two-way networking platform Twitter is designed to be.
If you decide to use 3rd party software to automate your posts, you may not want to use it for all of your platforms. For instance, since there is no penalty for using software to post to Twitter, it may be a good idea to automate your posts to Twitter so that you can implement bigger strategies effectively and consistently. But, you should also check into your Twitter account daily to respond to any RT’s or Mentions as well as interacting with others, too!
*On Facebook however, a recent experiment has proven to me that exclusively automating your posts can be detrimental. Rather than automating posts, for all of our clients we posted 90% or more of their posts live during an experimental month. We stuck to the peak times for their audience, posted content that was similar to past posts, and only changed the variable of how the content was posted. In every case, their Edgerank score went UP over a period of one month. An occasional automated post didn’t seem to be a problem, but live posting proved to be better by the standards of Edgerank.
The obvious next question is, “Can I do live-posting to Facebook, but have it auto-feed to my Twitter account?” Yes, you can, but we don’t recommend it. All of the social media platforms have different uses, and treating them the same way is not making the best use of any of them. Not only that, but when you send out the same content at the same time to different platforms, anyone paying attention will realize that you’re doing this, and when they do, they will also come to the conclusion that you didn’t care enough about your audience to speak directly with them. This will weaken the work you’re doing to build your reputation. In the long run, it’s not worth doing this unless it’s a special announcement or current event notice, done only on occasion and only when you are trying to get out a quick update.