Social media automation is a necessary evil. While social media is all about sharing with your audience and being present in the moment, maintaining consistent interaction on a regular basis also requires some advance planning. As a business owner, marketer or social media manager, do you really have time to login to Twitter five times a day to tweet? Of course not.
That's why many companies (including us) use an automation tool like Hubspot or HootSuite to schedule their posts in advance. Using a tool like these can save time by posting to a variety of social media channels at once. Automated posts allow you to distribute a piece of content, such as this week's blog post, multiple times on multiple platforms so there's less chance of it getting lost in someone's Twitter feed.
But we learned last week what can happen when a seemingly harmless thought is posted at an inopportune time.
This tweet by Seemless, an online restaurant ordering service, last Monday celebrates National Guacamole Day. Nothing wrong with that, unless you have an aversion to avocados. But the phrase "nothing else matters" which would normally be considered just cheeky, turned downright insensitive when it posted right after the somber news of the mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington.
The tweet has since been deleted, but the responses live on. Seemless has apologized via Twitter to several people directly who complained. We can only assume this is a case of automation gone wrong.
This mistake certainly isn't as bad as other examples of social snafus, like when Kitchenaid sent out a controversial tweet about President Barack Obama’s deceased grandmother during a presidential debate. Or, Kenneth Cole's attempt at humor via Twitter earlier this month. This tweet contains an apparent reference to the situation in Syria using the phrase "boots on the ground" to sell shoes.
The Seemless situation certainly serves as reminder for brands to stop and take note when newsworthy events happen. Take time to have another look at those scheduled posts to make sure nothing that's in your queue could be misconstrued.
Some would say this is a lesson that doesn't need saying, like PR guru Peter Shankman did during the Boston Marathon bombings.
Of course, this assumes that your social media manager or agency is in the know with current events. Considering their area of expertise, let's hope so. We like Shankman's idea of holding off on auto posts until someone is able to evaluate the situation. That requires a human touch that you can't replace with automation.
We discuss how brands can listen, respond to and deal with negativity, like the Kitchenaid example above, in our new book "Brands in Glass Houses: How to Embrace Transparency and Grow your Business through Content Marketing".