Social Media Automation: The Good And Bad #smxlondon

Social Media Automation: The Good And Bad #smxlondon

16th May 2013

Social media has revolutionsed the way we interact with clients, friends, family and peers but at the same time it can also be very complex and time consuming. This session focused on giving and outline of available tools to automate social media sharing. However, leaving those tasks unattended to a machine can also cause various problems if not social disasters therefore speakers provided the audience with best practices to blend the automation of social media with human oversight.

The speaker panel consisted of:

Samuel Bueno de Mezquita, Group Social Media Manager at Regus

Samuel Bueno de Mesquita







‘Social Media Automation: Getting the Balance between People and Machines’

Regus’ unique selling point is there network since they provide flexible office spaces around the globe including petrol stations, airports, rail stations, etc. Their challenge is to communicate with their audience – in 36 different languages whilst they have a highly targeted audience group. Another question they have been asking themselves is ‘who would follow a B2B organisation’?

‘Cargo Cult’ social media  actually looks like a real social media programme with

  • High output of content
  • High volume of friends and followers

However, it misses the true nature of social media – integration and engagement.

MWB one of their competitors use social media automation – they were tweeting up to 20 times per day linking to Regus’ blog since they themselves didn’t have content to put out there. What’s the point in that?

American Air even provided its audience with automated Twitter responses – the rule is that it simply never works. Machines cannot replace human beings.

To make the automation process and sequence work Regus follow the order of: content creation (humans), internal sharing, distributing to wider audience (automation/human), sense checking (humans), interaction (humans), measurement (Analytics and humans).

  • They have a social media/communication team = creating & curating content, and identifying third party links relevant to their audience.
  • Delicious & ITTT = stories get tagged on Delicious, ITTT then translates those tags into feeds
  • General managers =  repurpose content for their local markets and sense check it for relevance.
  • Buffer App/Hootsuite = where content is queued for distribution
  • Customer service/communications = for real human interaction.

How does it work at Regus?

Content is collated by the social media team. Edited, translated and shared by 300 trained Regus general managers. Each has over 500+ followers on LinkedIn.

Tools they are using are

  • For curation & distribution: Buffer App and Hootsuite.
  • Purely for curation: If This Then That & Delicious
  • For monitoring: Tweetdeck and Sysomos heartbeat


Our one and only Bas van den Beld, Chief Editor at State of Search

Bas Van Den Beld







‘Social Media: The Good and The Bad’

Bas shared his publisher perspective of social automation with the audience. Firstly,  you have to choose your channels specifically – you must not try to populate all channels as the rewards won’t pay off! If people see the same message on all your channels they will start to block your message out – that’s basic human psychology. Use the channels for different messaging. Yes, Twitter can be a bit more corporate whilst using Facebook for corporate is doubtful due to its live and engaging nature. He then went on to discuss a few channels in more depth.

Twitter is primarily used for sharing information and links. A lot of people just want to follow people. Bas sees that a lot of his followers simply re-tweet content in order to simply share.  For instance, if a post goes live on State of Search automation is in place. He also uses TwitterFeed to feed blog posts straight to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Social is a WordPress plugin that doesn’t just automate your Twitter feed but also feeds it back to your site in the form of comments or ‘latest tweets’.  State of Search bloggers also have the ability to use automation to promote their posts via Twitter.

When Bas went on holiday recently he was cut off the internet entirely. Meaning that he could not promote posts manually or automated which resulted in a decrease in traffic. This experience showed that the right automation makes a big difference in generating and increasing site traffic.

However, he highlighted the fact that automation does not always go as planned therefore we need to make sure that all our settings are set accordingly.

In terms of Facebook – EdgeRank decides what and what you don’t see on your time line.  When State of Search publish new posts they are also feeding them into their Facebook site.  However, the number of people who engaged with it was lower than expected. Why? Facebook is mainly used by individuals to share funny content (cats, anyone?). So what did Bas do? He decided to also post funny pictures and the engagement number went up massively.  Now he adds State of Search blog posts manually as this allows him to be far more visual (screenshot of the post with short description) and the engagement immediately increased. He also tags the author so that the author’s friends can share the post. The result? He got 4 times more traffic – what an impact! To measure the results Bas uses Facebook’s activity log.

What lessons have we learnt?

  • Automation needs attention as it does not always go according to plan.
  • Regarding Twitter, Bas from his personal experience believes that automation works.
  • Facebook is only truly impactful if you use more visuals and images.
  • Scheduling automation usually works pretty well but the audience was advised to leave a few minutes for flexibility (not all clocks are set exactly the same!).
  • If you are considering automation keep in mind to think how readers use social!


Aaron Wester, Director Web Analytics at Deserted Digital Media

Aaron Wester






‘Social Media Automation: Look before You Leap’

Their goal is to maximize engagement and conversions through automated content sharing.  Their focus is on the user – automation alone does not work, human interaction is needed as well – hybrid interaction.

The sequence and tools Aaron uses to get the most out of social, human automation is:

  • Social influence (Netvizz/ Gephi:GraphML and NodeXL with social importer plugin)
  • Social reach (Graph API, Twitter Search API v1.1 & OAuth/ Google Docs)
  • Social engagement  (click tracking and heat maps)
  • Social geolocation (traffic data/ Google fusion Tables)
  • Competitive advantage  (NetVizz/ GraphML)– follow what competitors are doing and understand how they are engaging users.


Written By
Clarissa is a bilingual Strategic Marketing MA graduate with rounded experience in a number of key marketing disciplines including social media, project management, research and business development. Clarissa is Marketing Graduate at Linkdex.
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