When Automation Goes Wrong: A Better Approach to Social Media

When Automation Goes Wrong: A Better Approach to Social Media - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit Pexels

Given the sheer scale of social media and the number of social channels (there are over 90 social networks) – and the volume of people using them (Facebook has over 1.59 billion active monthly users) – you could say it’s a bit of a chore keeping up with everything.

Between monitoring, posting, and staying engaged, I’m not surprised that marketers try to automate the process as much as possible. But that’s not going to keep people engaged or grow sales through social.

In fact, automation is the opposite of what we should be doing, when you consider that the whole idea of social media is to provide that direct, authentic engagement with our audiences.

And sometimes, brands pay the price for that automation.

We Love Social Media Fails

I think we put social media fails from brands right up there with celebrity gossip. Sometimes those fails are interesting, sometimes they’re eye-roll-inducing, and sometimes they’re just a trainwreck you can’t look away from.

Domino’s Pizza is the first brand that comes to mind.

When Automation Goes Wrong: A Better Approach to Social Media - Duct Tape Marketing


After receiving a compliment on its Facebook page from a clearly satisfied customer, Domino’s fired off the wrong auto response, posting a message that said “Sorry about that!” It’s great that Domino’s is prepared for damage control – every brand should be.

Unfortunately, that automation disconnected Domino’s from its customer, and resulted in some negative feedback in what could have otherwise been a flawless bit of customer praise.

Oh, Oreo…

Oreo has received some praise in recent years for the mastery of its marketing messages, such as its quick thinking during the Super Bowl blackout in 2013.When Automation Goes Wrong: A Better Approach to Social Media - Duct Tape Marketing

But even a brand that has it together like Oreo can slip when it comes to automation. It might feel like you’re in full control when automation is set up, but that control goes out the window when you start involving the public.

Oreo found this out in 2014 when it tweeted what was clearly an automated reply to a Twitter troll. That automated response led to a lot of negative PR for the brand.

When Automation Goes Wrong: A Better Approach to Social Media - Duct Tape Marketing

Reach Out and Touch… Everyone. As Quickly as Possible.

AT&T had attempted to set up an automated campaign around March Madness. The campaign was supposed to create personalized tweets that went out to basketball fans around a Ticket Chasers campaign where fans could win NCAA tickets.

When Automation Goes Wrong: A Better Approach to Social Media - Duct Tape Marketing

Unfortunately, the automated campaign wound up targeting a much larger audience than intended, which grew by the minute and quickly spammed a huge section of people. AT&T responded by quickly deleting threads and shutting down the bot, and its head of social media at the time issued a formal apology directly to Twitter followers.

When Automation Goes Wrong: A Better Approach to Social Media - Duct Tape MarketingBaccus-5

Automation Has Its Place in Social

You never think it could happen to you, but the above examples weren’t intentional. They were accidents – and accidents can happen.

I’m not advocating that brands and marketers stop using automation; it certainly has its place in your marketing strategy. If you want to effectively use automation, then use it to:

  • Schedule posts when your team is going to be offline, or if you’re going on vacation or to a trade show/event.
  • Fill up your content calendar by using tools like Quuu or Buffer. Then you’re filling in gaps around your real-time posts.
  • Find the best times to post content to get the most eyeballs.

When Automation Goes Wrong: A Better Approach to Social Media - Duct Tape Marketing

None of that really takes away from your engagement with your audience. You’re still posting great real-time content and rounding it out with stuff you’ve curated or scheduled ahead of time to keep up with your audience.

To avoid incidents like those above:

  • Don’t make automated direct messages or automated responses part of your strategy. That ruins engagement, especially if you’re not there to reply.
  • Don’t try to use scheduled content to blast the same message out to every social channel. You need to cater content to your audience segments, as well as the network you’re on.
  • Don’t just curate and automate content posts when you haven’t read the content or can’t screen it.

Keep It Authentic

A better approach to social media is to treat it the way it was meant to be used: to directly engage your fans in a sincere and authentic way that best represents your brand.

If you’re strapped for time, I get that. I know what it’s like to have a packed schedule. It’s hard enough finding time to breathe, let alone post to 3 different social networks throughout the day.

When you’re struggling to get authentic posts out and keep engagement up, then it’s time to either invest in an agency that can manage it for you, delegate it to a team member, or hire a virtual assistant who can keep the social content flowing based on your strategy.

How do you maintain and grow your engagement on social media? Do you use automation tools or do you have a team that handles it for you? Share your approach with me in the comments below:

Aaron AgiusAaron Agius is an experienced search, content, and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands, including Salesforce, Coca-Cola, Target and others, to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, his blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

5 Reasons Why Your Brand Should Have a Following

5 Reasons Why Your Brand Should Have a Following - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit Very Pixel

Have you ever noticed how so many major corporations produce commercials that focus more on their brand name rather than an actual product? At first, this might lead to some head-scratching—after all, isn’t the product what they’re selling?

Yes and no.

The reason you see so many of these branding efforts is because a recognizable brand with a following is an incredibly valuable asset. Consumers who trust and recognize a brand tend to stick with it and recommend the brand to their friends and family. Even in the digital age and highly competitive industries, word of mouth is still one of the most elusive-yet-powerful marketing channels available to any business owner.

If your organization hasn’t yet established a solid brand following, here’s a few reasons why you should start today:

#5 Your Customers Will Become Your Tribe

If you’ve heard of the concept of a “tribe” in business lingo, then you know that this refers to the behavior of your most loyal customers. This demographic are the ones which are most fiercely loyal and who will sing your praises to anyone who will listen—but without a strong brand identity, this won’t be possible. One of the main purposes of a brand identity is to answer the questions “who are you?” and, perhaps more importantly, “why are you better than the other guy?” Once you have a following, your tribe will answer these questions for you happily.

A good way of looking at it is how sports teams operate. Sports fans are incredibly loyal to their teams of choice. They wear team logos, discuss news about the sport, and follow their team’s games religiously—to the point of saying things like “we won.” Sports teams trade players and change administrations and coaches relatively frequently. As one stand up comedian put it, “you’re cheering for a jersey.” This is the power of a loyal brand following, and this kind of fervent dedication is possible for your business too.

#4 Customers Are More Likely to Engage With You Positively

Have you ever struggled with getting positive reviews or good word of mouth? Do your customers never send you referrals? A strong brand presence can inspire your customers to interact and engage with you more positively. Remember, your brand followers will be your strongest advocates, so when someone needs a recommendation for the kind of product or service you provide, they’ll be the ones out there providing you with “free” advertising.

A good way to gauge how strongly your customers feel about your brand is through a customer survey. If you don’t get positive results from the survey—or worse, few results at all—odds are you need to focus on explaining to your customer who you are and why they should choose to work with your brand—and only your brand.

#3 A Strong Brand Image Isn’t Just Good for Your Customers…

…It’s also good for your employees. When you have a strong brand image, your employees will likely feel more inspired about the work they’re doing. Feeling as though they’re part of something “bigger” and that they’re impacting some kind of positive change in the world—even if it’s just making the best hamburgers in town—can affect they way they think about their work in a relatively dramatic way.

When an employee is proud of the brand they help to create, they’re more likely to behave in such a way that promotes the success of the brand. As a result, you’ll have happier customers—and perhaps new customers too, since your employees will also provide a word of mouth advertising. And why wouldn’t they? They’re proud of where they work.

A strong brand image can inspire employees to stay with your company longer, and this can help to alleviate the high turnover rate that many businesses suffer from. If an employee knows that the brand they’re working for has a strong future—and possibilities for upward mobility in their own career paths—the likelihood that your employees will look for “greener pastures” will be significantly reduced.

#2 Strong Branding Generates Long Term Financial Value

Even if your company never offers an IPO, having long financial value is one of the most positive aspects of good brand recognition. A strong brand can practically guarantee future business and sales—even if the economy is currently in a downturn. A strong brand can also act as leverage in the event that you need a business loan or funding. The more your focus on presenting your brand in a positive light, the better the odds are that your business will have future value, whether that’s for financial leverage, to enter a merger, or to sell it later.

You’ll also find that having a strong brand will help you find potential business partners should you ever decide that you need them. Working in joint ventures can be a major asset to any business, but without a strong, recognizable brand it can be far more difficult to find partners of this kind. A strong brand can help you get the right people on board to work with—whether they become your partners or just other businesses that you work with. Neglecting your brand image reduces trust in these kinds of situations.

#1 Strong Brands Build Trust

This is the most important reason why you should focus on building your brand recognition. A strong brand promotes trust from everyone involved. Most importantly, of course, are your customers, but your employees will also find more motivation and will be more likely to stay loyal to your business for years to come. You’ll have trust from other companies with which you do business, you’ll have trust from potential lenders, and you’ll have trust from all involved financial parties concerning the future of your business and your brand.

Strengthening your brand and developing a loyal following isn’t just about making more sales—it’s about making a strong future for your company. These are the reasons why building a strong brand identity is more about just advertising a product or service, it’s about ensuring the future of your business.

Josh MacDonaldJosh MacDonald is an internet entrepreneur and software develop best known for his development of marketing automation software. Check him out on Twitter or his blog.

7 Ways to Get More Podcast Subscribers

7 WaysTo GetMorePodcastSubscribers

I’ve been podcasting now for over ten years and I still crave new subscribers. Now, don’t get me wrong, the benefits of podcasting for me are so strong I would do it even if no one subscribed, but exposure is one key reason to put in the time and effort (although it’s not that much time and effort) and getting more listeners can only help.

If you’re interested, you can find, listen, and subscribe to my long, long list of archives here.

The key to gaining more subscribers is to form a connection with your audience. Give them a sense of who you are and how you think and, not only will it drive traffic to your site, but it could also open up doors for customer growth and monetization.

If you are interested in the technical aspects of podcasting, here’s a show I did with John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneus on Fire where I sketch out exactly how I podcast.

Below you’ll find seven tactics to consider as you build your podcast following.

#1 Guest Selection

One of the best ways to drive traffic is to find and interview interesting people. It doesn’t hurt a bit if they are influencers in your niche. These folks most likely have a large audience and could drive traffic back to your site.

You shouldn’t expect your guests to promote their episode, but you should ask and make it easy to do if you want to gain from this form of exposure.

While promoting through social media channels is great, having guests send a link to your episode through email is definitely more effective. But this can be challenging since most people are protective over their email lists. One way around that is to suggest they add a “PS” to the bottom of an email that is already going out that week. Take it a step further and pre-write the email and social materials for them and add it to a follow-up email in link format. 

A final word here – your guests don’t have to be well-known experts, sometimes finding a guest with a smaller, fully engaged following in your industry is an excellent way to get exposure to the right group – in the end that’s what matters.

#2 Publish Often

If you’re new to podcasting, it’s probably a good idea to publish at least three times per week in the first eight weeks. iTunes’ gives you eight weeks from the day that you launch to be featured in the “New & Noteworthy” section. This is your best chance of being discovered organically.

Even if you’ve been podcasting for longer than two months, it’s still a good idea to post a recording more than once per week – even for a temporary period as a little “boost”. Breaking it down in terms of simple math: if your goal is to reach 100,000 subscribers. You would need to build your podcast up to 2,000 new subscribers per weekly episode for a year to reach your goal. Or you can reach this number by getting 500 subscribers per episode, with 5 episodes per week.  

#3 Topics & Titles

Like pretty much any form of content, ad, blog post, book – the title grabs attention – without that you stand little chance of standing out as people scan through RSS feeds, Tweets and directories.

Choose a title that makes people stop and think. Grab attention by making them feel some emotion just by reading the eight to ten words at the top of your post.

A podcast is a form of content, so copywriting rules apply

Many headline writers live by the headline rules of thumb called the 4u’s

  • Your headline should be unique.
  • Your headline should be ultra-specific.
  • Your headline should convey a sense of urgency.
  • Your headline should be useful.

Here are some tools that help you become a better headline writer

#4 Guest Hosting

Just as guest blogging is a nice way to gain exposure to someone else’s audience, guest hosting someone else’s podcast can be a great way to find new subscribers for your show.

Visit other podcasts and check to see if the host has published episodes with a guest host. See if they’d be interested in guest hosting your show or if they would want you to interview them on their show.

From there you can propose a host swap or guest host spot for their show.

Make sure you’ve listened to their show enough to know who their audience is and how they like to deliver value and then propose a topic or format that makes sense and fits in with what their listeners will certainly love.

#5 Increase Reviews

Reviews are a critical factor in podcasting rankings on iTunes. Positive reviews show social proof that others like and listen to your show, and that’s another important element in the review game. But reviews are not easy to get. Here are a few tips that might help:

But reviews are not always easy to come by. Here are a few tips that might help:

  • Post links on social, targeted to loyal listeners asking for reviews; tell them you’ve set a goal
  • Offer a gift like an eBook or free trial to a program.
  • Review other podcasters in your niche and often they will leave one back
  • Use BuzzSumo Alerts to notify you when someone reviews a podcast in your niche
  • Add a link to your email signature
  • Ask for reviews on LinkedIn
  • Write a blog post (or incorporate review link into one of a similar subject)
  • Use My Podcast Reviews: iTunes separates reviews by country, so if someone from Canada leaves a review, people in the US can’t view it. My Podcast Reviews offers a free solution that will make all of your iTunes reviews visible to everyone.

#6 Apps and Directories

Many people find shows they want to listen to by browsing through categories in podcast directories. You must submit your podcast to many of these directories to have any chance of being discovered by users of these directories and apps.

Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your RSS feed for your show, tags and artwork area all working and up to standards. Use FeedValidator.org and make sure it says “Your feed is valid” before submitting to any directory.

The Blubrry Podcasting Manual is a great resource for the most technical aspects of managing a podcast.

Below is a start on directories

  • iTunes Directory: the iTunes directory is a must – it’s so important you’ll want to read up on the right way to create and submit your podcast. Once you do that, the rest of the directories will be a piece of cake
  • Google Play Music – This directory is rapidly expanding, and it’s Google!
  • Stitcher – Stitcher is one of the best apps for podcast listening so make sure you submit there.
  • Soundcloud – Growing rapidly and offers lots of sharing options
  • PodcastPlaces.com is a good site for getting all the information you need for submitting your podcast to many podcast directories and apps

#7 Maximize Exposure on Social Media

Many podcast listeners and subscribers are also social media participants. Let’s face it; it’s much easier to attract people who already listen to podcasts than to start convincing people to listen.

  • One of the first keys to social sharing of your podcast is to have an image that grabs attention. Images can be used in your post, in iTunes (which will appear as your thumbnail and will be significant to browsers when choosing shows) and in social media. Include your logo or photo, a photo of your guest and a brief title.
  • Be careful not to add too much text to the image so you can boost the post on Facebook. Here’s more on Facebook guidelines here. When you boost it, define the criteria to target followers of your featured guest.
  • As I mentioned earlier, you should write up example social media posts for your guests to share. It will make the process easier, and they’re more likely to comply.
  • Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find what podcast episodes were shared the most and share those shows again with another tag to the featured guest. If you podcast once per week, do this monthly. If you’re recording daily, you can make this a weekly routine – or feature your “Top 5” on a monthly basis.
  • Turn your podcast into a YouTube video to leverage your content across multiple mediums.
  • Selectively post to groups specific to your topic or guest via LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+
  • Tweet episodes with SoundCloud link so people can listen via Twitter stream

It takes time and commitment to produce and publish a podcast but don’t forget to spend as much or more time promoting it!

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Pixabay

As of 2016, there’s estimated to be 2.3 billion active social media users — nearly 1/3 of the global population.

While this eye-popping statistic presents obvious marketing potential, determining how your business can capitalize on it is decidedly less clear.

What every small business owner and marketing professional should know is that engagement is the engine that runs every successful social media campaign.

Do you want to improve your engagement and glean more benefits from social? This guide will point you in the right direction.

The Principles Behind Engaging Social Audiences

Before we consider what quality social engagement looks like, there are a few essential rules to keep in mind …

  • Be punctual — Respond to users in a timely fashion; schedule posts in a timely fashion and jump on trending topics that pertain to your core business/services.
  • Be personal — Ditch the formalities; your social audience wants to know they’re communicating with a person rather than an entity. Remember that social media is a free form conversation, leave room for spontaneity.
  • Be transparent — Be authentic and embrace your critics; responding to negative comments with a solution speaks volumes about your commitment to customer service, deleting it mutes the conversation.The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

Making these principles standard practice ensures you have a strong foundation in place for your social media marketing efforts going forward.

Attracting Social Engagement

Why is it so difficult to captivate social audiences? The likely answer is you can’t fake it — static, uninspired, or one-dimensional postings are just adding noise.

Savvy social media marketers understand they need to provide their target audience with value — and consistently deliver it — in order to separate themselves from the crowd.

The rule of thumb: if people find it useful they will share it.

For example, a web developer might create a comprehensive list of sites that offer free tools if they believe it will resonate strongly with their audience.

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Zion & Zion

Browse forums like Reddit and social channels and see what real people are asking — provide an instructional guide that provides a detailed response and demonstrates your company’s expertise.

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

RELATED: High-value social media content

Targeting Influencers

The people and companies that matter most in your industry are known as influencers and making them advocates of your brand can attract social users in droves.

The most powerful social proof in social media, influencers function like high-level testimonials. People are much more likely to engage with your brand when a third-party they implicitly trust is pointing them your direction.

RELATED: Finding and targeting influencers in your field

Fine-Tuning Your Social Engagement: Channel by Channel

Although engagement requires different levels of finesse across each social channel, one thing remains fundamentally the same: emphasizing quality over quantity. It’s not the volume of your posts that counts, it’s whether you’re connecting with your target audience.

Here’s a clear-cut profile on each of the major social channels and how to drive more engagement across the board …


Classification: Top social sharing site specializing in all forms of content

Audience: Broad, all ages

Peak Engagement: 12-3 PM Weekday

Key Considerations: Facebook remains the top social media site in the world, a melting pot of opportunity with over 2 billion pieces of content shared daily. Given its active user base, it remains the focal point for social media engagement for many businesses.

Facebook users primarily visit the site to consume content, not to receive blatant advertisements. The businesses that succeed in this channel find ways to integrate dynamic, easily shareable content into their target audience’s newsfeeds that resonate with their interests and core values.

Tasty, a division of BuzzFeed, has recently mastered this technique — utilizing quick-cut recipe videos that dynamically play in a user’s newsfeed when shared. This type of content resonates because it disrupts a typical newsfeed, provides clear value, and encourages engagement.


RELATED: Tips on increasing Facebook engagement


Classification: Microblogging site limited to 140 characters; real-time engagements

Audience: Broad, younger generations & older working professionals

Peak Engagement: 12-2 PM Weekday

Key Considerations: Twitter enjoys the second largest base, with over 500 million active users. The size of its user base presents some awesome engagement opportunities, making a channel impossible to ignore.

While Twitter has plans to eventually extend their character count, business owners are currently restricted to shorter blurbs of text. Here, the balance in terms of quality over quantity is essential to success.

Businesses that receive engagement here involve themselves in the real-time conversation — they observe trending topics or start a dialogue. You don’t need to be an influencer with thousands of followers to turn heads — involve yourself in their conversations as you build your own base.


The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape MarketingRELATED: Tips on increasing Twitter engagement


Classification: Business-oriented social network

Audience: Niche, working professionals ranging from Millennials to older generations

Peak Engagement: 7-9 AM Weekday

Key Considerations: LinkedIn gives an opportunity for your audience to make a direct connection to your business. Highlighting your services is fair game as the majority of users who connect with you are considering your business in a professional capacity. Don’t forget to provide value — businesses that succeed on this platform provide great resources.

RELATED: Tips on increasing LinkedIn engagement


Classification: Dormant but growing network consisting of users and brands

Audience: Google users, predominantly older in age

Peak Engagement: 8-10 AM Weekday

Key Considerations: Due to its lower user base — hovering near 400 million — Google+ isn’t the first place you’d look for social engagement, but it does pack some benefits for businesses willing to go the extra mile. Brands that succeed in this channel understand the nuanced differences of Google+ audiences and supply a constant stream of value tailored to their needs.

RELATED: Tips on increasing Google+ engagement

Tying It All Together

Instead of looking it at engagement as a numbers game, prioritize the quality of the connections you’re making with your target audience — the shares, retweets and everything else will soon follow.

Tyler ThursbyTyler Thursby is a Senior SEO Analyst at Zion & Zion, a leading advertising agency based in Phoenix, AZ. He frequently writes on search engine optimization, social media, and content marketing. Follow him on Twitter at @tthursb.