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The Significant Difference Between Autopilot and Marketing Automation

This last week we had a BundlePost user state that they wanted their social media marketing on “autopilot” and thought that’s what we did or advocated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Marketing automation and the term autopilot have no relation to one another in social media marketing. One is a carefully thought out and actively managed strategic component of an effective social media program, the other is liken to a drone with no pilot, mission or results.

social media marketing on autopilotIn the commercial aviation industry, millions of dollars are poured into the avionics and systems that keep aircraft in the air, comfortable for passengers and controllable by highly trained pilots. These systems are all integrated together to make the function we all know and understand as autopilot, possible. But what we never see is a plane placed on autopilot, without an experienced captain monitoring all aspects of the controls.

Pilots would never put their plane on autopilot, leave their seat and subsequently allow the plane to cruise unattended. Not only is that illegal and against all common sense and regulations, but it’s incredibly foolish and would be an accident going someplace to happen. On the contrary, there are two pilots in every commercial cockpit even though autopilot capabilities are on board. Both professional pilots are present, strapped in their seats and always ready and able to respond to any circumstance that arises.

Autopilot was never developed or designed to fly an airplane unattended, nor was it ever meant to be used as something to replace an experienced pilot. Advanced technology is designed to help efficiently manage some mundane human tasks, freeing up the pilots to ensure a smooth flight and potential problems or opportunities.

Let’s put some clarity to the differences between these two distinctly different marketing approaches as it relates to social media marketing. We will give six examples of each and provide a little detail as we go.

Social Media “Autopilot” Tactics –

Social media success does not appear by accident, or via automation, rather it can only be achieved through consistently executing proper strategy, activities and human interaction.

Accepted social marketing tactics do NOT include the following activity, tools or automation:

1) Auto-posting content from any source – This is not strategic, safe or effective.

2) Auto-tagging and posting messages – This includes things like newspaper posts that tag people you’ve automatically displayed on your Rebel Mouse or other newspaper pages, “top influencers tag messages” or any other similar tools or systems that auto-post to your pages, profiles or timelines. They are clearly automated, provide ZERO value to anyone (including yourself) and most people know this.

3) Automated Timeline or Direct Messages – We all know these are automated and not sincere as a result. We ignore not only the message you have automated, but we will likely ignore you hence forth.

4) Automated Retweet applications – Some of the newest horrid autopilot technology is the automated RT app. This little gem lets you select specific people/accounts and it will automatically RT their tweets at specific intervals. This is like an accident going somewhere to happen. It’s not effective, don’t do it.

5) Automated Pitch Tagging – We just connected (or have no relationship) and your autopilot solution tags me to pitch your link, blog, website, product or service. Have you ever wondered why email spam is now illegal? You’re doing the equivalent on social media and your brand and results will reflect it if you don’t stop. In fact many (including myself) report accounts that do such spamming, every time it happens. Wonder why your account gets suspended? Now you know.

6) Automated Engagement Posting – Imagine going to a networking event and when you introduce someone to somebody else, or tell someone about another persons book or product, the person you were referring to, took out their smart phone and played a recorded message. Or better yet, imagine that you were having a conversation with someone and a person or brand you’ve never heard of, jumped in to the conversation to tell you about their product all because he overheard you mention the word “fruit”.

Whatever you would do in real life, you should do in social media. Whatever you would never do at a networking event or walking down the street, don’t do in social. It’s not more complicated than that. Autopilot does not get real results in social media and will damage your reputation.

Consider this: If you and thousands of others are using such autopilot tactics in their social media marketing and hundreds, if not thousands are connected the same people, your autopilot tagging and posting are also appearing to the same person. What do you think the impression of your brand, product or service is when your automation is just like everyone else’s automation and being seen by the same person? I can tell you. You just became a brand or person they will not be doing business with.

“If your social media isn’t getting results you need less automation, more human & the right tools” ~@fondalo

Social Media Marketing Automation –

If you expect to get results there are a few social marketing automation functions that you need to be doing. Liken these activities as the aviation autopilot explanation we discussed earlier. You, the pilot are always there in the seat, but the plane’s autopilot can be running these functions for you.

1) Landing Page, Lead Capture, Email Drip Campaign – If you are using social media for marketing and do not have a clear marketing automation path for your prospects, you are undoubtedly not achieving the results you should/could be. Understanding your prospects click-through, registration and sign-up/order flow is extremely important and requires sales automation to be most effective.

2) Content Curation Scheduling – You must have enough relevant, valuable content in your social streams every day. It’s part and parcel effective social media. I am not referring to Retweeting or sharing other people’s curated content, but discovering and posting content that resonates with your audience. Though you should sometimes RT and share, you need to build thought leadership around the topics that drive your audience, and that requires you to aggregate and curate content they want. Scheduling these posts is a requirement, unless you have unlimited time and aren’t going to do the things that actually get results, like having conversations and building relationships. (I am being very sarcastic here. You must engage with your community if you expect results) You can either spend time posting content, or engaging and driving ROI from your efforts. Content curation scheduling is imperative!

3) Community Growth Targeting – Using tools that will help you identify your target audience and connecting with them enables you to grow your community and leverage the Social Media Connection Cycle. Finding and connecting with your customers and prospects across the social graph is extremely important. Doing it manually is cumbersome and extremely inefficient.

4) New and Evergreen Content Scheduling – When you create content in the form of blog posts and articles, you need to share that to your streams so your audience is aware. Posting it once is pointless, so you need to strategically schedule new and evergreen content multiple times when it is created as well as on an ongoing basis.

5) Scheduled Marketing Messages – If you have knowledge of something you will be doing on a specific day/time, scheduling your status update about it ahead of time makes perfect sense. Periodically scheduling marketing messages about what you do, that link to your landing pages (without tagging anyone) is appropriate and efficient. If you have done your other social strategy and activities effectively, you will earn the right to do so and people will read, click and share them.

6) Scheduled Graphics – If you are creating and posting graphics and photos to various social sites, you will want to ensure that you’re being consistent and frequent. You can’t be at your desk all the time and you shouldn’t be spending desk time doing such manual tasks. Scheduling this kind of content to your various social accounts is efficient and appropriate.

Wrap Up

There is a massive difference between social media marketing automation and autopilot. You need to know the difference and stop sheepishly replicating the activity other people are doing, when most of them are as broke and ineffective with their social media results as you are. Stop being part of the blind leading the blind and start understanding social media for what it is, not how the popular majority are using it (unsuccessfully). If you’re going to replicate what someone else is doing, you had better be darn sure that it is actually effective on the dollar and cents level and more importantly isn’t hurting your results instead of improving them.

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Filed under Audience, automation, Blog, Brand, BundlePost, Community, Content, content creation, Curation, Engagement, influence, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Retweet, Smart Phone, Social Aggregation, Social Media, social media automation, Social Media Marketing, social media tool, Strategy, Tools

Important Elements Of An Agency Social Media Proposal – Part 1 of 5 – The Meeting

Bundle Post is very blessed to have patent pending technology for the social media industry and an incredible amount of experience conducting social media marketing previously. Why does that make us blessed you ask? Because we do not have competitors and we are able to provide a lot of expertise to our target market of social media agencies, strategists, consultants and internal brand departments.

Part of helping many of our social media connections and Bundle Post users is providing expertise and insight related to operating a social media marketing agency. We have done it successfully. As a company and for me personally, it is a priority of ours we intend on living up to. Since we are now solely a social media marketing software company, we can and will share some of this information to help you our audience.

In this 4 part series, we are going to cover the following elements of a social media agency proposal:

1) The client meeting

2) The commitment

3) The key elements to include in the proposal

4) Pricing and terms to address

5) A social media proposal template

The client meeting.

Through our experience of conducting effective social media marketing for clients all over the world, we discovered a specific process that was more effective at signing new social media clients. I’m sure there are several ways you could go about your sales process, but this is what we found that was the most effective.

 Rule #1 – We NEVER generated a proposal for a client unless we already had discussed their project, requirements and costs, and received a tentative “Yes” from the client.  Creating proposals for clients you have not properly educated, investigated and tentatively closed, only burns your most precious resource… Time. Additionally, you set yourself up for being disappointed, having a very low close ratio and flooding your market with your ideas and pricing for your competition to use. Always follow rule number one!

Following are the important meeting items that comply with our first rule of the social media proposal.

Always conduct a meeting with the prospective client. If you can’t do it in person, do it via phone. You need to understand their knowledge of social media marketing, evaluate what they are currently doing and set expectations.

1) Start by asking questions

In order to understand where social media needs to fit into your clients business, you must first understand their business. You need to know what their current marketing consists of and what the overall business issues are.

Some questions you should be asking…

a) about their business and clientele

b) their current social media footprint

c) what are their reasons for being interested in a social media marketing program

2) Educate

Since you will typically be dealing with clients that are not currently active in social media or at least have a very limited presence and results. With businesses of this type, we have always taken a very different approach than most, in that we never start off selling what we do in a client meeting. I found that giving an extremely detailed analogy of the clients situation from the beginning, sets the stage to make us the obvious choice to handle the clients social media marketing.

The way we did this was by telling a story about the clients situation and the current state of social media. It goes something like this;

Here is the challenge you have “Client”. This is social media and is very different than typical marketing or advertising. Think of it as a marathon and not a sprint. It is about building and maintaining real relationships with your prospects and customers. The problem is that the gun went off several years ago and you guys are not even really in the race. You have no athlete, have not begun stretching or training and don’t even have a professional coach.

What’s worse is that your competitors are not only in the race, they are making good time. Your customers are on the sidelines of the marathon route watching your competitors run by, and you are nowhere to be seen. So it is not about if, it is about when you are going to have to be in this race and have a very professional pace in order to catch up with and beat the lead pack…

From there we get into the details of social media

a) explain social media marketing

Be sure to explain how you build relationships using social media, how it is selfless and about providing relevance and value to your audience. Explain the complexities of a general strategy and content and how response and conversation is imperative. Include the amount of posts required on different platforms and the monitoring and details of making it effective.

There are two main reasons for doing the above in great detail: 1) Show your knowledge as their expert. 2) Help them realize the amount of details, functions and activity social media requires and 3) That they do not have the time or knowledge to do it themselves

b) explain the sites relevant to their business

Using what you learned about their business in the “ask questions” step, you should now have an idea of the social platforms their brand should be using. Give them an overview of the 1,2 or 3 (keep it to three to start their campaign) social networks they need to have a presence on and explain why. Again, details and complexities are what you are wanting to get across here.

c) present your plan

If you did your homework before the meeting, as well as listened during the question step, you should be able to outline in simple terms what their initial program should be like. What you recommend, the activity you will be doing on which networks, etc. Most importantly, you should know what you are doing well enough to start discussing costs.

3) Discuss budget and requirements

a) Their budget

At this point, you should have an idea of the clients financial situation and approximately what the costs for their program would need to be. You will want this to be a monthly fee and for a specified period of time. More on terms and pricing in Part 4.

b) Recap

Next you will want to again recap all of the things that your firm will be doing on a setup, daily and weekly basis. DO NOT rush this. Go through the detail of all the activity that will need to be done, including; creation of pages/accounts, customized landing pages and backgrounds, building their community size, following, follow-backs, unfollowing, posting, responding, etc.  The more detail you explain, the better.

c) Q & A

Ask the client if they have any questions, then LISTEN. You need to be quiet and let the prospect think, then speak, then ask questions. Your job here is to hear what they are REALLY saying. Are they making excuses or coming up with reasons why they can’t do it right now? Are they displaying fear due to their lack of understanding? Are they having a budget issue?

Handle their questions with care. Recap the massive requirements on time and resources. Remind them their customers are already in the race. Explain to them again that social media is where the people are and more importantly where they prefer to connect with businesses.

Again, there are many ways to get a prospective client to a social media proposal. My experience has shown this method works well. More importantly, it works quickly.

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Filed under Agency, Social Media, Social Media Marketing