Social media marketing bots – spam or saviour?
Effective social media management has never been more important for brands. In fact, according to the most recent advertising expenditure report from digital media specialists Zenith, the global social media advertising spend was headed for $84bn in 2019 alone.
With that level of investment taking place, it stands to reason that innovators in the sector would start to look at how to make managing social channels more efficient. For many, the answer lies in automation – specifically, social media marketing bots.
But what exactly are these bots, and how can they help your business to grow? Here, we’ll explore how social media bots work, where they've been used well, and the potential pitfalls too.
What is a social media bot?
Social media bots are essentially pieces of software that use scripts to carry out tasks on social channels on your behalf. They can reply to queries, engage in relationship-building tactics, and interact with other accounts – all without getting tired or needing time off.
Let’s say you run an outdoor clothing company that sells products from your website – here are just a few things a social media bot will be able to deal with for you.
- Answering customer enquiries about existing orders.
- Sending personalised messages about promotions or after-sales queries.
- Searching for and promoting relevant content to your audience.
- Engaging with potential customers by liking relevant posts.
A significant benefit of social media bots is that, thanks to market penetration, their relative cost isn’t as high as you might think. Many of the tools operate on a subscription model, with prices starting at around £49 per month. This makes investing in social bot use less risky than it once was, with potentially huge benefits.
How are social media bots being used in marketing?
There have been several examples of major brands harnessing the power of social media bots to elevate their offering. Whether it's Pizza Hut deploying a chatbot to take orders directly via Twitter or Transport for London creating a Facebook 'TravelBot' to help people find the right bus or tube station, big brands are taking social media chatbot tech seriously.
And it goes beyond customer service too. Many brands use bot algorithms to grow audiences online—particularly on Instagram, where the inbuilt technology isn't particularly advanced for commercial use.
Facebook has built chatbot tech into its brand platform for some time and it’s pretty well documented, so instead, let's explore how Twitter marketing bots and Instagram marketing bots can help your business to scale.
Using Twitter marketing bots successfully
Thanks to its conversational nature and fast-paced communications, Twitter has become the dominant social media channel for customer service.
Customers expect that pace to be reflected in the speed of replies from brands. In fact, according to Twitter’s own data, 60% of consumers expect to receive a response from the brands they reach out to within an hour.
Unfortunately, many business owners don't have the time (or the budget) to monitor their Twitter feed 24/7. This is where Twitter marketing bots can help. By setting up responses using an algorithm, brands can ensure that complaints and queries are dealt with quickly, without having to be chained to their computers or mobile phones constantly.
Twitter social media marketing bots can help with sales too. For example, by building an algorithm that could deliver personalised recommendations, Samsung was able to generate more leads via its Twitter channel.
How to use Instagram marketing bots
Perhaps more than any other social media channel, Instagram requires quality content and serious time investment to build an audience. But while it's a slightly more complicated proposition than a Twitter chatbot, social media marketing bots can help here too.
A service such as Ingramer, for example, can help your brand to engage with consumers through likes and follows, assisting with replying to DMs and viewing Instagram Stories on your behalf. Of course, you'll still need to be serving up your own high-quality content for users to engage with, but the bot will give you a real leg-up in terms of growth.
Ingramer (and competitors like Instamber and AiGrow) can help as a searching Instagram marketing tool bot too. That might sound like a mouthful, but it just means that the tool can help with advanced search capabilities (Instagram's inbuilt search functionality isn't very powerful), as well as automating hashtag usage and trendspotting.
Can using social media marketing bots go wrong?
Of course, there are some potential pitfalls with social media marketing bots. There’s a risk that overuse (particularly when aiming for growth) can feel spammy to customers. Similarly, a customer service interaction that feels too robotic could do more harm than good in the minds of some consumers.
There are the negative connotations of social media bots to contend with too. They've been used for some morally questionable purposes and as such, customers are sometimes wary of their inclusion in a brand's marketing strategy.
That said, as long as you’re using them to improve the customer experience, while staying vigilant about testing and refining, there’s no reason why social media bots can't improve your business.
Social media marketing bots are a tool, not a strategy
Social media has become a crucial part of any brand's marketing efforts, and it's only going to become more important in the future. If bringing in a social media marketing bot can help to build your brand online, then it’s surely worth a closer look, just remember that the technology isn’t perfect and you’ll need to commit to regular refinement and review.
With a proactive and customer-focused approach, there’s every possibility that a bot can add real value to your existing social media strategy. Just bear in mind that developing the right strategy for you doesn’t hinge on a single tool, so think of social media marketing bots as part of your tool kit, not the totality.
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