Is automated posting bad?

There’s a common fear amongst enterprises that by using automation software such as Hootsuite, Later or PostPlanner you’re negatively affecting your algorithm.


By Tilly Farrands

While social media schedulers have improved over the years with newer, better technology (I’m sure some of you remember the Hootsuite glitches going into Facebook back in the day), but as it stands, evidence shows that scheduled posts get just as much engagement. We examine the evidence below to help you put those fears aside!

Automated posting: the evidence

Recent research has proved that third party tools definitely don’t negatively affect the reach of posts. As with anything, some posts did better than others but in general, Buffer found no difference between posts they scheduled third post and ones they posted manually. In fact it wasn’t uncommon for the scheduled post to slightly out-perform native posts, as seen in the results for their Facebook data. They saw that nine posts using third-party tools gained 81,639 total reach or 9,071 per post. Meanwhile, native posting for nine posts received 79,380 total reach or 8,820 per post.

Whilst some third party scheduled posts did a little better than native posts, that doesn’t mean using schedulers is going to affect engagement positively. There are a set of mitigating factors on however you decide to post, and we’ll get to that in a moment.

So where did the third-party scheduler debate come from?

It started in 2011 when Facebook was actually limiting the reach of third party posts, but this was soon fixed and hasn’t been an issue since then. This bad reputation was boosted further in 2015 when it was stated that third party apps result in 89.5% less engagement and reach, with more people then coming forward with their own studies.

It’s now thought that what was actually being referred to here was not third party apps but cross platform posting and using automated RSS feeds – something slightly different to automation. However as social media marketing has grown and marketers are having to juggle many different platforms, it’s now common practice to use third party tools. It would be impossible for marketers to do their jobs without the help of these tools.

So while it may have been the case a few
years back when scheduling was newer, and the platforms were keen to keep users inside their own platforms, the issues were quickly addressed, but the bad rep for schedulers stuck.

Platforms realised these tools are needed, and in response they took steps to improve their own automation systems! In fact, many believe scheduled posting beats native posting, as it provides image previews (so you know how your content will appear in advance), link tracking and advanced analytics – which could be important now that Facebook has removed some of these analytics tools).

3rd party integration and engagement – what’s the reality?

So why *do* some see their engagement go down when using automation?

The answer is that they are actually being penalised for not being active and engaging with your feed – even when using a scheduler it’s important you go through and like/comment on posts as much as possible. When you think about it, if you’re scheduling posts, you’re likely not going to be in your platforms as users interact with you. Native posting means you’re more likely to be in there as soon as someone likes or comments on your content.

Remember that all comment lengths count as engagement, so go give some thumbs up!

Keep it genuine too. You will be penalised if you use fake interactions such as chat bots – if we want our platforms to be genuine, then we have to follow suit, so make your interactions meaningful. Genuine interactions help users feel you’ve connected with them properly. Accounts that authentically interact with their followers will likely continue to grow the relationship as opposed to just replying with emojis which can close a conversation (of course that’s useful sometimes too!).

To keep your engagement up, use a mix of tools Facebook posts and Instagram stories from other platforms, it makes your feed look more authentic,! Social media is a community after all. Remember that you’re still trying to spark followers’ interest, not broadcast to them what you’re selling constantly.

So even if everything is scheduled, don’t forget to keep checking your feed and notifications. And take note of what posts are really doing well, you may want to explore these topics further.

Account types: do they matter?

There’s also a misconception that account types are treated differently, in fact this isn’t true either! Instagram has confirmed that all account types, whether it’s personal, business or creator are treated the same.

On the same thinking, photos and videos are also treated equally (including IGTV) so don’t be afraid to mix up your posts a bit! The only occasion where different posts benefit you is when they release something new in order to promote the feature, such as Instagram reels currently. So it’s worth embracing the newer tools released.

Of course all technology has its issues – even recently I struggled to connect a Facebook and Instagram account, even though they’re owned by the same company and should have a seamless connection!

However, the days of having to worry about being hidden due to using automated posting are gone – schedule away!

~ Tilly at Phlashweb

Written by Tilly Farrands, Sales and Events Coordinator at Phlashweb

If you need help setting up your online presence or making the most out of what you already have, get in touch to see how we can help. Alternatively, we run webinars on managing your business remotely. Find out about attending here.

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