to automate or not?Guest post by Thom Holland

As business leaders, we often operate in what I like to call “collected chaos”; a million different business decisions coming at you at once. Often times, to combat the chaos we look to streamline and automate any and every process that we possibly can.

After all, that makes perfect sense, right?

The easiest way to free up our valuable time is to automate something that consumes it. And while most would agree that it is well worth the effort to automate the technical and monotonous business processes, there are still quite a few business leaders out there who are torn as to whether or not they should automate their social marketing efforts.

To help us form a more holistic view and to gain a better understanding of the implications, I reached out to a few friends of mine to get their take on the matter.

Neil Patel, Co-founder of KissMetrics:

“Automating social media marketing sounds like a great idea, but the purpose of social media is to create personal interactions between people over the web. I am a big believer that you can’t do this through automation.”

Nate Riggs, Content Marketing Consultant:

“I think automation can be powerful for personal branding online as well as for business branding as long as the user sees it as a way to spark deeper human to human conversations. It’s like anything else really — with great power comes great responsibility.

“It’s easy to look at social automation tools as a lazy and quick fix. But, the folks who approach it with that mindset are the ones who you see causing a backlash because they’ve compromised the trust of their followers. If automation prevents you from being human and building trust, then you need to consider if it’s worth the risk.”

Michael Beck, CIO at Beckon:

“It is highly recommended to utilize technology when engaging in social media. There are many opportunities to ensure a measured and targeted approach.  I see many businesses using Hootsuite for example.  However, it is not recommended to automate the entire effort.  There needs to be a person responsible in the organization that can interact with customers.”

Sujan Patel, SEO Specialist at SingleGrain:

“Fully automating social media is a waste of a valuable resource. You can get away with automating parts of social media but the real value in social media is connecting with people on another level. This ultimately takes a more human approach.

In terms of a company’s SEO efforts, I don’t believe that automation is bad… least at this point.”

Andrew Dumont, Director of Business Development at SEOmoz:

“Social automation goes against the very value of using social media. Social marketing is dependent on interaction, not automation. Without it, you lose the two-way exchange that makes it so damn effective.”

What do you think?

Image: bre pettis via Flickr, CC 2.0

Thom HollandThom Holland is the co-founder and CEO of Beckon. Connect with him on Twitter at @ThomHolland.