27th October 2015

Trick or Treat: Automated Social Marketing Vs Human Interaction

Automated marketing is not yet sophisticated enough for us to put our faith in it. In the future it’s going to be friggin awesome. But for now, if you’re not careful it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Here’s four reasons why automation truly sucks at the moment, and how you fix them:

  • Understanding nuances

Sentiment (whether stuff people are saying about you is good or bad) requires a degree of human intelligence. Machines cannot ‘learn’ at the pace the human race develops new ways of expressing itself. It also has a significant lack of understanding when it comes to sarcasm:

“I just LOVE waiting 40 minutes for my food when the waiter said it would be 20”

Bot response:

“It’s always nice to hear you’ve got some love for us, thanks for the tweet”


The fix: manual monitoring and quality control processes – cringe. You get a better result by having a quick witted community manager.

  • Flexible posting

Automation, like scheduling posts months in advance, doesn’t take into consideration life events, you know like a death or something <cough, awkward>

Blog 1

The fix: If you’re going to schedule, make sure you don’t do it blindly. Or have an approvals process each day/week before stuff goes live.

  • Curation = Regurgitation

There are a whole heap of tools out there that curate content based on  algorithms – the idea being to enable you to serve the most relevant content to your audiences at the right time.

However, this doesn’t take into consideration that your followers and fans are just that because of your unique online offer. If you’re simply regurgitating the same old guff that everyone else is posting, where’s the value in following YOU?

Yes it can be more efficient, but it’s not sophisticated enough to know your brand’s tone of voice and how you can engage an audience by simply posting in an engaging way. For example:

“Don’t forget to visit our salad bar – government research recommends 5 different colours in your portions of fruit and veg each day”


Instead, the human understands the tone of voice and knows the ‘in-jokes’ that will make your community respond. So the above post becomes:

“Our salad is so fresh it had to live with its auntie and uncle in Bel Air… Dig in #Fresh #Veg #Salad”

Which one are you more likely to share?!

The fix: Use the automated tools to serve the community managers with content recommendations, however DON’T auto post or directly lift the post, instead use your understanding of the community to create bespoke messaging. When it comes to content, it’s less about quantity and more about quality.

  • The auto DM – the scourge of the internet

Yes, we get it, you’re trying to get me to look at your blog/site/buy whatever you’re pedalling but I’m not going to do it because you’re spamming me. I’m going to do it because you show me a value in doing so.

Case in point:




In theory, automation sounds awesome. Say you’re running a fashion show for a client in Liverpool. You can automatically search out all of the people with ‘fashion’ in their bio who are in Liverpool and send them a DM telling them about the event.

The marketing equivalent of carpet bombing.

The fix: If you’re intent on using auto messaging or DMs, then really think it through. Use your tone of voice to add some personality to it and give people a reason to do what you’re asking. I quite liked this channel:


So I’ve had a bit of a pop at automation. It’s not all bad; the thinking behind the software is awesome, and some of the tools can certainly save time and effort. But, to quote Spiderman: “with great power comes great responsibility”. If you’re going to use this stuff, the trick is to see it for what it is and build it into your community management…don’t rely on the machines entirely just yet.

By Anna Wilson, Head of Digital