We marketers love automation. It makes our life easier, our reach greater, and our message louder. It’s fun, fast, and efficient, but like all things automation has a time and a place.
When marketers are first introduced to the power of automation they often get a little automation crazy. I did the same thing – I not only wanted to automate the initial outreach, but also the follow-up and the follow-up to the follow-up. I wanted to build this grand machine that could, with a series of logic gates, trick the world into thinking it was human.
Unfortunately, the world that I wish for isn’t the world that is and a series of automated responses are, at best, a clumsy conversation and, at worst, downright spammy. But I am a stubborn man and wanted to see my idea come to light and so I persisted.
My initial automated outreach was well received, but the second it became apparent that the conversation was an echo of something I’d written several months earlier the conversations stopped and never started back up again.
After a few weeks of this, I was starting to get bummed out. We were an automation based company and our automation wasn’t working. Out of ideas, I turned to a google plus community. Jaded by my experiences and expecting the same silence my emails had gotten, I asked a question to no one in particular.
And much to my surprise, I got an answer. And then another. And another and another and another and before I knew it my question became one of the most engaging posts on the page. In the private conversations spawned by that post I secured a massive amount of interest in my organization and even moved a few prospects over to sales.
I stumbled into a situation I’d been actively searching for in the weeks prior. It’s not that people didn’t want to talk, they simply didn’t want to talk to a machine.
With that, I began to reassess the way I approached automation. Instead of automating my messages I took to automating everything but my messages. Monitoring, publishing, tracking, sorting, I automated my social housekeeping to maximize the time I had to start and maintain actual conversations.
Now I’m actively engaged in several communities, a contributing member of conversation, a trusted counselor for how to manage social, and (most importantly) a lead generator.
In changing the way I approached social media, I changed the way the social world reacted to me. And for that, I and my company have gained the benefit.