Think that your content marketing strategy doesn’t matter? Then reflect on this.

According to a recent Nielsen study, the average American adult spends about 11 hours daily consuming digital media. That astounding figure not only covers traditional platforms (such as live television or radio) but also podcast, news aggregator sites and blogs. And considering that 58% of American adults also own smartphones, then it’s safe to accept that there are a lot of people spending time with their gadgets.

marketing-automation-needs-a-human-touchSo with that many people actively seeking information online, it’s only natural that there are almost a limitless amount of content competing for your client’s attention. To stay relevant, companies must be willing to regularly share materials that fully attract and interest your customers.

And while automation can make interacting with others a breeze-it is not a the definite solution for every marketing scenario. Which is why actual engagement must remain a part of your marketing mix. So if you are confused as to when to use automation vs engagement, here’s a few rules to keep in mind.

When Automation Works

Regular interactions are a must when managing your social media platforms. So automation can be a helpful tool when managing situations when constant monitoring is not an option. Automation can also assist in connecting to potentially valuable marketing partners by allowing you to sharing their content with your audience.

When using automation as a means of communicating there are a few rules to keep in mind:

  1. When sharing content-be sure to read the information first to make sure it’s relevant and appropriate for your audience
  2. Don’t set and forget it. Be sure to analyze what works and what doesn’t. Be prepared to change up your strategy if needed.
  3. Remember that content is NOT one size fits all. Cater your message based on the social media platform that you are sharing it on.

When to Engage Directly with Your Audience

Remember that the ultimate goal of social media for business is to build and strengthen relationships with customers. And while retweeting an article from your favorite blogger may be a great way to draw attention to your company-it does little to build loyalty beyond a few possible clicks. That’s why human engagement is soimgres important. It goes beyond simply repurposing content to establish real ties with your audience.

Like in the case of automation, there are a few things to consider when utilizing human engagement:

  1. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation. Ask and answer questions to learn what is important to your customers.
  2. Criticism is part of the process. However, you can use this to your advantage by showing how responsive you are when people share complaints. Ultimately, it can become a win if you use the situation to showcase your customer service prowess.
  3. Welcome content from your customers and promote it as a way to build brand loyalty.

Best Practices: Starbucks

One of the best modern examples of how a company can utilize both automation and engagement to quickly respond to their customers is Starbucks. True, the beloved coffee giant has a sizeable footprint when it comes to brick and mortar stores. But when the company recently faced criticism for its ill-advised Race Together initiative-the company had to utilize both types of communication effectively to reconnect with their fan base.

When CEO Howard Schultz announced that he was encouraging baristas at the coffee chain to engage their customers on race, fans were notably skeptical. Given the recent emotionally-charged news in the press, many felt that it was an undue urlburden on both employees and caffeine-deprived customers to have a deep discussion on race relations.

Unfortunately for the socially-progressive company, their campaign was met with a sizeable backlash-both from the media as well as their legions of followers online. The resulting controversy was so extreme, one of their public relations executives elected to close his twitter account to avoid the onslaught of negative feedback.

And while this could have been an unmitigated disaster for the company, they instead decided to change the narrative by facing the criticism. Schultz and the social media team regrouped and acknowledged the shortcomings of the plan. They also engaged directly with some of the customers to ensure that they didn’t lose that client’s confidence in their brand. More importantly, they catered the message through all of their relevant social media platforms to let their customers know that they heard their concerns about the project.

Key Takeaway: With the mass amount of content being consumed daily in digital media, it’s important use automation as well as human engagement as part of your content marketing strategy. Understanding the rules of when both are appropriate is the key to growing your brand. Automation is best when sharing information that may not require constant monitoring. While human engagement is most effective when meeting criticism, building rapport or simply creating a dialog about a relevant topic.

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