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Automate or Not? Making Your Clients Wonder if You Are Human Online

Social Media Strategist Caroline Melberg shared a recent experience with a client that reaffirmed her opinions about automating all of your online communication.

“I was talking with a prospect recently about social media, and as I explained how we could help him manage his social media activities, he asked me, ‘Aren’t there tools that let me just automate all of that so that I can just set-it-and-forget-it?’

I paused, as the following possible responses went through my mind in rapid-fire succession.

– I don’t know – could we just automate your receptionist and have everyone who calls your company speak with a robot?
– Sure – if you want your company to look completely clueless online, you could do that.
– Um … are you human?

I chose to not say any of these rather snappy replies, and instead explained how social media is different from every other marketing tactic he’s used in the past.  It’s really more like networking than marketing – and it requires participation and building relationships to be successful.”

Melberg knows that people on social media, who understand not only how to use it but how to have it work for them, want to get to know the person behind the business before they begin to build a working relationship with the business. After all, the people behind the business are a great indication of what doing business with that company will be like.

Social media doesn’t work if you take the ‘salesy’ approach – as a matter of fact, that’s one of the best ways to get unfollowed or blocked on Twitter, and unfriended on Facebook. What used to be considered a salesy approach is now usually considered spam. Obviously, spam is THE big no-no on social media.

Recently we have received a post on Facebook saying something very similar to “I’ve ‘liked’ your page, now please return the favor and ‘like’ my page.”


Isn’t that a little immature? It’s like saying, “I’ll be your friend if you’ll be my friend.”

That approach didn’t work well in elementary school, and it doesn’t work well now.

A company that does work well on Twitter is Zappos. Most Zappos employees have an active account, lending their personality to the company brand, letting them be engaging, helpful and friendly with Zappos customers.  In return, their customers say marvelous things about the company. (See the screen shots)Twitter screen shotTwitter screen shot


Yes, social media takes time, and there are some time-saving tools, such as Hootsuite, that can be employed to help. But that doesn’t mean you use them only as a time saving tool and completely ignore your social media account. That is detrimental to real-time responses that are essential to your success on social media.

Social media is about building successful relationships, and aren’t successful relationships the foundation on which every successful company is built?


Published on: September 13, 2011