Thirty Minutes a Day is All It Takes to Automate Your Social Media Activity, But I Don’t Recommend it

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From The Digital Reader:

As I am sure you know, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all your work done. This is why we are always looking for new ways to automate tasks, and why I started the Tech Tools for Authors series (soon to be a newsletter).

Sometimes, however, the automation is counterproductive or just isn’t worth using. For example, a couple months ago I developed a way to automatically gather tweets from chosen Twitter accounts and load them into a Buffer queue so the tweets can be shared from one of my clients’ social media accounts.

It’s a clever and relatively low-cost trick that ties together IFTTT and Buffer in a way that lets the two services handle the majority of the work automatically.

You’ll need to invest some time in finding sources, but aside from that the only costs are a Buffer subscription, some skull sweat invested in choosing sources, and the time spent curating the Buffer queue to remove unwanted updates.

. . . .

I won’t be using it, however, and I don’t think you should either.

I have come to the realization that I am not comfortable with the act of scraping people’s tweets. It feels too much like plagiarism, and I think using someone else’s work like this is going to backfire in the long run.

And even if this weren’t plagiarism, it’s a sub-optimal way to maintain a social media presence.

Ask any social media expert and they will tell you that the best way to get attention or build an audience is to say something original and clever. In this case that means you have to read (or at least skim) each story and find something to say. This process can’t really be automated, at least not without a lot more investment than I can afford.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

As usual, Nate has a lot of good suggestions and shortcuts and reading his extensive series of posts on the topic, collected as Tech Tools for Authors, provides a lot of ideas.

PG uses some automation for TPV, but not a lot. For example, visitors to TPV can sign up for a daily email update which collects all the posts that appear on that day and sends them out in an email. You’ll see a signup box in the right column of the blog, fourth from the top. He also has a Feedburner RSS feed of all posts with a link at the top of the right column of the blog.

PG uses some other services to automatically forward information and links to Facebook, Twitter, etc., but it’s all one way.

That said, PG is not terribly social on social media. He doesn’t lack for online conversation about the book biz which mostly happens at TPV. He does use Feedly and Alltop on an inbound basis to keep track of what’s happening on several topics and help find items for TPV.

PG does use a variety of tools to make non-personalized outbound communication easier. Most of the time, PG prepares several posts for TPV at the same time, but schedules them to appear at intervals during the day. Each post is spread beyond the TPV site via RSS, email, etc., when it goes live.

For some non-TPV purposes, PG uses Buffer to schedule items for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. He likes the ability to go heads-down on a task and create several outbound items that will appear automatically over the next few days. He has discovered it’s more efficient for him to use many of his tools at one sitting for a series of scheduled releases than to do one thing with a tool, then another thing with a different tool.

In the OP, Nate mentioned free tools Canva and Pablo for creating striking visuals for social media. PG has used both of those tools and obtained good results. However, his current favorite for this task is Adobe Spark.

He likes Spark because it can do a lot of things in a useful and aesthetically-pleasing way. For one thing, links to free photo sites are built into the program. It also has a large number of pre-built templates to get you started plus you can choose from a large number of color palettes for your posts, so you don’t need to worry about what color will compliment your graphic. If you start with a colored photo, Spark will automatically use a palette that goes with the photo.

PG made the following item in under one minute, starting with a Spark template. Text colors were selected automatically.

Here’s another – creation time – 60 seconds – again, starting with a Spark template

And one last Spark graphic:

4 thoughts on “Thirty Minutes a Day is All It Takes to Automate Your Social Media Activity, But I Don’t Recommend it”

  1. I mostly use Canva. Yes, Adobe Spark is better but one thing I go for is a graphic that can be shared on most social networks with all their different rules about image dimensions (hello, cropping).

    I’m going to keep Adobe Spark in mind when I need to make my next printed content, though. It looks a lot better than what I can make with Canva.

    • Nate – At the beginning of the Spark creation process, it lets you choose the dimensions of your graphic based on where you’ll be posting it – Facebook, etc.

      You can make a graphic with Facebook dimensions, then click to change it to Instagram dimensions. Most of the time, Spark adjusts all the components in an attractive manner.

  2. PG, do you use adobe spark that is the free one with the spark logo imbeded, or the for pay one that removes the spark adobe logo from your work?

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