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Don’t Be ‘That Brand’ — Stop Automating Your Messaging

Don't be the annoying brand that uses automated messaging tactics.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Does the sound of someone cracking his knuckles drive you crazy? Does your roommate pick out all the marshmallows in a box of Lucky Charms? Do you get physically uncomfortable when your significant other eats off your plate without asking? 

All are legitimate annoyances, especially the Lucky Charms situation — that’s just sad. 

What about in the context of marketing? Do you cringe at the thought of a brand using the font Comic Sans for its logo? Does it drive you mad when you see the incorrect use of “its” and “it’s” in professional copy? 

My pet peeve is automation, and I want it to stop. 

Automation Is a Death Sentence

Brands are still automating their communication — even in 2014. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be consistent with your message; that part is immensely important. But when I see a company deliver the exact same message to all audiences on all platforms, I feel frustration start to well up.

Marketing efforts should not be an all-in-one deal. Every conference connects a different group of individuals. Every platform brings together a different type of community. Figure out whom you’re talking to — and then what your call to action needs to be, based on each individual audience.

Creating a Genuine Communication Strategy 

Building relationships is nearly impossible when you automate your communication. To spark that necessary conversation with a potential client, tweak your message and show how you can you provide value to individuals, not followers or fans.

Making sure you include these five components in your strategy can help you avoid being “that brand”:

1. Gain Customers’ Trust

If you haven’t taken the time to figure out whom you’re talking to, do it now before you take another step. Figure out what your audience expects of you, and provide it to them.

If you tell them you’ll blog weekly, then you can’t ignore this item on your to-do list. Deliver results as promised: Your customers will appreciate you and keep coming back. By proving you understand the needs of your audience, you can build mutual trust from the beginning.

2. Remember That Authenticity Is Key

Becoming a thought leader in your industry requires creating strong relationships and building a bond of trust with those contacts. Don’t try to impress an audience with fancy words if they’re not in their day-to-day vocabulary. Sparking a conversation where both parties understand the language shows a brand’s authenticity more than anything else.

3. Diversify Your Social Media Strategy

Not all platforms are created equal. Your customers on Facebook aren’t there for the same reasons they’re perusing Pinterest. 

In fact, did you know that shoppers on Pinterest spend roughly $140 to $180 per order? And the most shared Instagram videos (as of October 2013) were in the entertainment and clothing and apparel categories? 

Study your audience to understand what types of content they are most likely to interact with on each platform.

4. Stop Sending Automatic Direct Messages

How much do you hate auto DMs on Twitter? I’m right there with you. Automating a generic message or constantly sending your content to followers without any interaction will cause users to ignore — or unfollow — you.

At that point, it won’t matter if Oprah Winfrey writes for your blog. You’ll be talking to a pool of dust in an open desert.

5. Apologize for Your Mistakes

Brands have a bad history of updating their accounts with offensive or accidental messages.

Mistakes happen all the time, but how you handle them will show your followers that you always mean well. However, don’t apologize with a sassy tweet telling everyone to “relax,” or you could lose more than you thought. Yeah, we’re looking at you, Esquire Magazine.

Automation Can Sometimes Be OK

Although automating your message is quite the faux pas, there are a few times when it can be done right. Here are some ways to use this method without sacrificing your brand’s reputation:

Social Media Management: Scheduling your tweets and posts in advance can be helpful when you’re juggling 15 other tasks, but don’t schedule it and forget about it. Consistently monitoring what your followers are saying and responding to their questions will build your credibility. No one likes talking to a robot, whether it’s in person or online.

Tools like HootSuite, TweetDeck, and HubSpot offer free (or paid) services that can help you organize your social sharing. Again, remember to engage with your followers to avoid hurting your brand image.

Content Creation: Being prepared is an excellent way to stay ahead, but if you create content six months or a year in advance, you’ll miss out on key opportunities. Current events and marketing trends are constantly changing, so be careful about creating a bank of content unless you plan to update each article prior to publishing.  

That being said, having an editorial calendar in place for planning your content creation efforts is a great way to make sure you stay on schedule.

Automation doesn’t have to be annoying. If you use it to spark discussions, not lead them, then you won’t have to worry about your audience tuning out your next update.

How do you adjust your messaging for different platforms?

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Post by Maya Szydlowski

About Maya Szydlowski Luke

Social media and the Influence & Co. blog is my happy place. My best days are spent discovering trends about coffee, health, content strategy, and fashion, 140 characters at a time. Let's connect! @MayaSLuke

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