16 key considerations when planning community & social media automation
Whether you’re the owner of a budding startup or a seasoned executive at a multinational corporation, you’re aware of the significance of an online community in today’s digital era. A well-maintained online community can foster customer loyalty, facilitate feedback, and even serve as a potent marketing tool.
Similarly, the power of reaching existing and new consumers via a mature and thought through social media program can revolutionise consumer data an organisation has access to as well as maximise its reach.
But as your initiatives grow, so does the complexity of managing them. This is where automation is typically considered as a way of taming escalating scaling challenges.
However, leveraging automation isn’t as straightforward as it seems. It presents unique opportunities and challenges that need careful consideration. We will explore its benefits, potential risks, and the hurdles companies may encounter along the way.
Benefits of Automation in Community Management
Automation can revolutionise online community and social media management in several ways. By automating routine tasks, managers can focus more on strategic initiatives that can further enhance user engagement.
Automation can significantly increase operational efficiency. Routine tasks like content moderation, sending out welcome messages, or scheduling posts can be automated, freeing up managers to pivot to less tactical activities.
Automation guarantees a uniform experience for members and audience. For instance, automated responses to frequently asked questions reduce the chances of inaccuracies or inconsistencies, thereby enhancing the user experience and derisking high volume engagement.
As your community expands, so does the workload. The same happens when more consumers reach out to your organisation through social media channels. Automation can help manage the increasing demands without proportionally increasing the number of human moderators. This scalability is crucial for growth, as any bottleneck can impact progress and stunt organisational benefits.
Data-Driven Decision Making
Automation tools can collect and analyse data on engagement, sentiment, and behaviour. This wealth of information informs a broad range of decision-making and help tailor efforts to meet member needs.
Automation can allow your community or social media programs to be active 24/7, partially at least. This is particularly useful for international or diverse reach, ensuring constant engagement regardless of the time zone.
Risks Associated With Automation
While automation offers numerous benefits, it’s necessary to be aware of the potential pitfalls that come with it.
There’s a danger of over-automation in community management. Excessive automation can lead to an impersonal and mechanical environment, frustrating members who desire a human touch. Think the hell that is customer service call trees.
Automated tools can misinterpret context or sentiment, leading to inappropriate or inaccurate responses. This can potentially damage your organisation’s reputation.
Loss of Authenticity
People often value the personal touch of a human moderator or social media manager. Over-reliance on automation can erode the authenticity of interactions, making engagement feel less intentional and exclusive.
Like any other technology, automation tools can break down or malfunction, potentially causing disruptions or errors in output. This can lead to important communication not being shared at the right time, or embarrassing missteps leading to potential crisis situations.
Automation often involves collecting and using member data more than usual, which can raise privacy concerns. Organisations must handle data responsibly and transparently to maintain trust, which increases risk.
If hosting your community on a 3rd party platform or engaging with them in a social network, check their terms of service. Many platforms require that a company is transparent when using automated responses and make this clear to the end user.
Challenges in Implementing Automation
Implementing automation in community and social media programs comes with its unique set of challenges. Depending on the organisation, some of these might even be deal-breakers. For others, deft negotiation will be required to overcome them.
The cost of implementing automation tools can be a hurdle, especially for small organisations with limited budgets.
Setting up and managing automation systems requires technical knowledge. Some organizations may lack the necessary expertise, making it challenging to implement automation effectively, or ensure enough people have the required knowledge to maintain it.
Resistance to Change
Community members and staff may resist automation if they fear it will replace human interaction or disrupt established workflows. Managing this change resistance is crucial for successful automation implementation.
Every situation is unique, and finding automation solutions that can be customized to suit your particular needs can be a challenge. Community platforms or social media tools will not always provide viable API calls (if any at all) and automation platforms might not support your tech stack.
Organisations must navigate ethical considerations related to automation, such as data privacy and the impact on jobs (if human staff members are replaced). This can cascade through the workforce and leach out into the press.
Striking a Balance Between Automation and Human Interaction
The key to successful automation in online community and social media management lies in striking a balance. Automation should enhance, not detract, from the member experience. It’s essential to prioritize transparency, ethical considerations, and ongoing monitoring and adjustment of automated processes to mitigate risks and maximize opportunities.
Automation can undoubtedly streamline many aspects of management. However, the human touch remains integral to fostering a sense of community and belonging among members. A successful program effectively blends automation and human interaction, providing an engaging and valuable space for its members and streamlined access to information to those needing it rather than frustration.
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