Do Social Media Marketing Automation Apps Pose a Security Risk to You?

Do you realize how much social media marketing automation goes on around us?

Engaging in social media is essential for any business today. It’s no surprise, then, that in order to scale and become more efficient, some marketers try to employ the use of social media automation to save time and add consistency to posts and engagement with the audience.

Could you imagine all of your social media platforms being handled by a bot that shares your content? According to a few statistics, 32% of businesses see increased revenue after a period of 12 months, while 77% see an increase in conversion using marketing automation. Marketing automation programs were designed to help marketers save time and money by scheduling posts and activity.

If marketing automation is mainstream, what about social media marketing automation?

Why do so many people use social media marketing automation?

There are a few reasons why marketers rely on social media marketing automation, including:

Additionally, social media automation keeps content consistent across all of the channels being used. It maintains a presence even when you’re not around, and you can add more posts in half the time it would usually take.

While social media automation is useful, it does come with a few security risks.

The Risks of Social Media Marketing Automation

As you can imagine, there are many issues surrounding automation for social media channels that need to be realized by marketers. Here are some great tips to consider. Let’s look at them one by one:

Losing the Engagement War

Social media channels are meant to be social, and automating social posts creates a situation where people aren’t engaging their audience. While this may help acquire new followers, the level of engagement is so low, those followers will drop off because they don’t have any interaction. That means the posts don’t seem real, and most people can tell the difference.

Violating Social Network Policies

While it is against Instagram’s policies to avoid third-party tools, for many marketers, automation is the ultimate solution. One of the problems with this is that users could get shut down from using these bots, losing all the traction they have already gained. Additionally, with so much happening in the news, an automation will not allow transparency, and won’t be able to recognize real-time instances where it would be beneficial to have a “human” voice – or be quiet all together.

A Potential Security Risk

Even though marketers may tell their clients their accounts are in good hands, the safety of the account is compromised by using automation. When using a third-party tool, the log-in credentials are given to a company where there are no guarantees of safety hackers. This makes those types of accounts even more vulnerable to a security breach. One breach leads to another, and the infiltration just continues. Automated tools also violate API general terms in addition to the above social network policies. There should be some ground rules in place to follow. Some of those rules could include not storing or caching Instagram login information, not posting unauthorized content, and not allowing marketers to engage more than one action through automation at a time.

Time and Effort Required

Believe it or not, it still takes quite a bit of time and effort, even with social media automation. It’s not something you can program, set and forget. You still have processes to follow, along with managing the channels and engaging with followers. In essence, it’s still a lot of work.

Inability to Humanize

The use of automation allows marketers to optimize and scale marketing activity, but it must be humanized to be used effectively. There are some brands that take things a little too far, causing overall harm. With automation, you may engage with a person or brand you may not have interacted with if liking, responding and following on your own. When leaving comments, the comment may be very left field, indicating the “person” on the other side is not a human.

The benefits of saving time, having tasks done anytime of the day or night, and engaging with larger numbers of people can seem appealing, but real engagement is very difficult to manage and duplicate.

Losing Brand Equity

Marketers may diminish the value of an organization’s brand equity by using automation through liking, following and posting on social media. When people don’t feel an authentic connection, they don’t have as much trust as if it were an account that “seemed” to be authentic. This could directly and severely impact profit margins and sales volume.

Losing Followers

Many people dislike automated social media and make it their business to avoid the brands that have automated messages for new followers, or accounts that continuously put up content. Again, the goal is to look as authentic as possible.

So what are some things you can do to avoid the potential damage from social media automation?

How to Mitigate the Risks of Using Social Media Marketing Automation

For those that absolutely want to leverage social media marketing automation, what can you do to reduce the risks to you company?

Provide Real-Time Social Media Support

You can reduce some of the risks by hiring someone to handle your social media in real-time. This would add additional costs to the marketing of the brand, but the quality of the work may be better with more engagement. If you are able to respond to engagement that your automation creates in realtime, it might seem more authentic.

Be Patient

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Utilizing patience when implementing any social media marketing strategy is key. When working in social media, a build-up of slow and steady followers will engage you with an audience that is all your own, which also increases the likelihood of heavy engagement. Focusing on engagement is key in getting your audience to interact with the brand. There are many scenarios where marketers post tens of posts a day. Truthfully, that is not needed to be successful. By focusing on social media activity, you’ll be able to like posts and leave meaningful messages that make people take a vested interest in you.

Manage Social Media Marketing Automation Bot Speeds

Related to the above is being able to manage bot speeds to be aligned with being patient. Most bots have speed on their side, but it also attracts an audit. Knowing the time limits on the platforms you are using is key. If you don’t know the limits, the account is at risk and the platform can delete your accounts from breaching their terms of service. A look at my post on LinkedIn account restrictions and the comments that follow show you how strict some platforms can be, to the point of even innocent users being restricted for “bot-like” activities!

Utilize VPN

Using a VPN for all social media marketing activity is a smart move. The automation service provider should be able to provide you with a VPN. If the service uses a shared IP address instead, it’s best to find one that can give you a dedicated VPN to avoid being compromised.

Have Excellent Customer Service

A good team cares about customer service in the brand they are considering working with. Researching the companies that have a proven track record will keep your organization top of mind without compromising information. It’s also a good idea to train the team on how to add the human element to the automation model to remain consistent and transparent.

Do the Rewards of Social Media Marketing Automation Outweigh the Risks?

Even with all of these concerns, is social media marketing automation still a necessary risk to take for your business?  Only you can answer that.

For some, the answer is yes. Social media automation helps marketers with the optimization and scaling of their activities while providing more time to engage and create the content audiences want and need. It’s really all about learning how to use the tools correctly while paying close attention to the results to ensure everything is working properly and the human element is still present.

If the marketer is not using the right strategy and neglecting to keep up with the automation, that’s where the problems could start mounting. Using best practices such as avoiding automating interactions and using real, authentic humans to engage is one of the first steps to using automation wisely.

Learning how to do this effectively will take time to develop this skill. It’s best to experiment with different strategies and tools to figure out which ones will work best with the audience and the team. While everything has its flaws, this is a problem that can be fixed. The overall goal should be in making sure the brand and organization are safe and not compromised through the use of a bot. As bots continue to change and simulate a human component, things could get a little complicated. The use of automated bots is the wave of the future, but knowing and implementing ways of saving the human element is a game changer.

What experience do you or your company have with social media marketing automation?

This is a post written by me on behalf of one of my many marketing partners. All opinions are 100% mine.

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.
Social Media Author, @RBSExecEd & @IMI_Ireland Educator, Keynote Speaker. Speaking at #cmc19. Next book on Influencer Marketing. Next Trip: Boston. 日本語話せます。
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