Social media automation: The future is now

The $500 million social media automation market is expected to be worth over $7 billion globally by 2025, with the Asia Pacific market likely to grow at 13.5% CAGR, and India and China being at the forefront

Published: Aug 12, 2021 04:29:39 PM IST
Updated: Aug 12, 2021 05:06:51 PM IST

Social media automation uses AI-driven software tools to automatically perform some of the crucial, albeit time-consuming, tasks associated with maintaining a brand’s social media presence
Image: Shutterstock


Social media has become ubiquitous in our lives. As consumers, we are spending more time on social media than we are on television. Our purchase decisions are heavily influenced by what we see on social media. We spend a large chunk of our buying journey, from discovery to evaluation to decision, on these platforms. It is no surprise that most brands now consider social media marketing an indispensable part of their marketing strategy. Digital media spends in the last decade have grown multi-fold, and in 2020, companies spent over $370 billion on digital ads, amounting to about 58 percent of the total ad spend. It is expected to increase to over $650 billion by 2024 (EMarketer). A large proportion of this growth has been fuelled by social media.
 
With such tremendous growth seen on these platforms, it is imperative for brands to up their game in handling their social media marketing. Brands today cannot rely on a few individuals to perform all the tasks associated with SM marketing as errors in today’s unforgiving and never-forgetting digital environment can cost heavily. Moreover, if your social media team spends more time on mundane tasks like posting and scheduling, developing new ideas and long term strategy takes a back seat. Herein lies the value of automating your social media marketing.
 
Simply put, social media automation uses AI-driven software tools to automatically perform some of the crucial, albeit time-consuming, tasks associated with maintaining a brand’s social media presence. These include scheduling future posts, curating content, handling customer queries, filtering malicious content, and generating detailed analytics reports on various engagement metrics across platforms. Such automated tools are not only significant assets in executing marketing strategies effectively, but they also improve customer experience and enhance brand awareness.
 
Brands can leverage social media automation in several ways. Customers today expect brands to reply to their queries or complaints on social media channels in less than a day. For a brand with a significant presence, this is almost impossible to achieve manually. A delayed response in such cases could guide the customer elsewhere or sour an existing relationship. An automated system, such as chatbots ensures that the customer feels acknowledged and that the company is looking into the matter. However, firms need to be aware of the pitfalls and ensure that human interventions are in place wherever necessary.
 
Content publishing and scheduling is another activity that really enhances the performance of a brand’s social media marketing team. Automated tools can directly publish brand content on multiple channels with channel-specific customisations. Additionally, marketing teams can upload bulk content, and these tools would ensure that the brand’s posts are consistently scheduled. This not only frees up time for more creative and strategic pursuits, but a consistent flow of content also builds customer trust in the brand.
 
Brands, however, need to realise that copy-pasting across platforms is not a great strategy and customers have different expectations from different platforms. Tailoring the content to be platform fit is crucial. Additionally, posting content as per the schedule of your audience is paramount to success.
 
Social media automation tools provide great analytics support as well, not just in reporting but also execution. You can analyse how your content is performing on different platforms all in one place. You can also automate the process of boosting posts that are doing well, ensuring that your best performing creative assets get the right help at the right time to go viral. These tools also help marketers to ‘listen in’ on the conversation. Social media listening is essentially monitoring what is being said about your brand. Social media listening tools can track user sentiment, gather and source user-generated content (UGC) and catch malicious content and fake accounts targeting your audience. They can also help track what your competitors are doing and the current hot topics of discussion.
 
With such tremendous opportunities, the adoption of social media automation is on the rise. The automation market is expected to be worth over $7 billion globally by 2025 (Grand view research). The Asia Pacific market is expected to grow at 13.5% CAGR, with India and China being at the forefront. As per various estimates, the current market size for SM automation in India is around $500 million, while the adoption rate is less than 10% across all industries. The industry is in the nascent stages in India and provides tremendous growth opportunities for firms in this domain. This also is an excellent industry of focus for the budding entrepreneurial culture of India.
 
In the current Covid-19 ravaged world, with the fast-paced growth of online communities, SM automation is essential for improving customer engagement by both established and new brands. Almost 40 percent of firms not already using marketing automation software are expected to invest in it in the next year. It is essential, thus, for firms to critically evaluate their marketing functions and plan for the future now. However, a point to keep in mind is that these tools are enablers and fall flat without a well-defined content strategy. Brands need to make sure that the conversations they engage in are meaningful and human.
 
The author is Associate Professor, Marketing, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon.

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