If you’ve got your hands full managing the day-to-day operation of your business, sometimes posting on Twitter or Facebook is the last thing on your mind. Using social media automation tools can help you maintain a consistent social media presence without sacrificing the rest of your work. Here are some dos and don’ts on how to integrate social media automation into your online marketing.

Do: Mix up your automated tweets and status updates with ones you write in real time.
Automation is not a solution for all of your social media needs. That’s because social media is inherently … social – so you’ll need to put a little effort into responding to your customers and prospects in real time. It’s okay if it’s not immediate, but do set aside some time for answering questions on Twitter, responding to Facebook comments, sharing Instagram pictures of your product or store and circling your fans on Google+. Automating will simply complement your real-time social media marketing, rather than replacing it.

Don’t: Automate messages during inappropriate moments.
For example, you may not want to share random, unrelated political articles during a major presidential debate. Some businesses pause automated tweets during natural disasters or other events. Or, for instance, if you plan on automating movie tweets during the Oscars, make sure the subject matter is relevant.

Don’t: Only post your own thoughts and material.

Social media expert Neil Schaffer compares Twitter to being in a room with a few hundred thousand people. “Unless you tap someone on the shoulder, nobody’s going to notice you unless they happen to be in listening mode, which not everyone is,” he explains. Make sure to supplement scheduled tweets by retweeting and replying to your followers and other influencers in your field.

Do: Test out multiple platforms for their capabilities.
Different platforms have different benefits, and some businesses use more than one. Look for features that will best enable you to meet your goals. Some platforms allow for monitoring of multiple accounts; some offer great analytics; and some allow you a good way to store articles for future posts scheduled at set times. Schaffer recommends trying out a few and picking one or more depending on their functionality, support, and your own comfort level and needs.

Do: Use platforms to monitor or listen to what’s going on around you.
Using a social platform like Hootsuite allows you to set up different columns for specific hashtags, groups of customers, and followers. That’ll allow you to keep a finger on the pulse, even if you only check in once or twice a day.

Don’t: Use Twitter simply to curate work by importing RSS feeds from other blogs.
Instead, share as much client or industry-related content as possible, repost photos people Instagram of your products, and engage with individuals as authentically as possible.

Do: Maintain a consistent voice.
Pre-schedule posts that are very consistent with the voice you’ve chosen for your business.

Don’t: Post too often.
Just because you can automate posts doesn’t mean people want to see 25 messages a minute apart, even if it is during business hours.

Do: Schedule tweets for promotions or events in advance.
Got a big event coming up? Why not schedule a reminder to go out on social media four weeks, two weeks, three days, two days and one day in advance? You can also schedule tweets for information about a big launch or promotion.

Don’t: Tweet posts once and then forget about them.
You spent a lot of time working on a blog post. Why not promote it while the information is still fresh – even if it’s been a few weeks since you wrote it? If you’ve got dozens of posts you’d still like to share because they’re relevant to your readers, you can even use the WordPress plugin SMQueue.

These social media automation dos and don’ts should get you off to a good start.

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