For businesses without the budget for a full-time social media marketing employee, automation is a great way to engage potential leads and loyal clients with minimal effort. Quite simply, social media automation refers to the process of managing and maintaining social media channels with the use of tools such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite or SocialOomph. Social media automation makes it easy for a company to stay current on its social media channels even if the time to do so is limited.

“First things first: Social media marketing should not begin and end with automation,” writes Kevan Lee in 2014 BufferSocial blog post: “Social media is not a rotisserie oven. Please don’t set it and forget it.”

While automation plays a crucial role in any social media strategy, it is not the panacea to marketing your company on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. Follow these five rules of social media automation to keep your brand engaged while remaining an active participant in the digital conversation.

You Are a Person

Not a robot. When you’ve automated every aspect of your social media management, your posts and responses will reflect this decision. Scheduling posts throughout the day, week or month is one thing, but limit how much you rely on automated engagement and take time to organically reach out to your company’s audience.

5-3-2 Rule

TA McCann from shared his 5-3-2 Rule at a social media marketing conference several years ago; however, this rule is still relevant in 2015. The rule states: “It’s fairly simple – out of 10 tweets or LinkedIn updates or similar:

Therefore, 30 percent of your social media content can be automated, but the remaining 70 percent must come from active, real-person engagement on your social media channels.

The Science of Social Media Scheduling

At any time of day on any date on the calendar, brands across the world are sharing content to LinkedIn, Google+, and a multitude of other social media channels. When understanding social media automation, knowing the best times to post content is very important. It would be a waste to publish content when your audience wasn’t paying attention. Also, you don’t want to share several posts all at once or allow too much time in-between posts.

Strategize Automation Efforts

As a part of your brand’s social media strategy, include the details for automation including (but not limited to): who handles responses to automated posts, the content publishing schedule, the mix of content being automated, and so on. Using a social media automation tool won’t do any good for your business if there’s no strategy driving it.

Analyze Performance

At the end of every month, take time to review the analytics for your company’s social media channels to better understand what does and does not work. You might find your social media automation efforts are performing better in the mornings than in the afternoons, or that video posts receive more engagement than link-based ones. Dedicating a small amount of time monthly to social media analysis will help you make adjustments as needed to pique your audience’s interests.

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Alli Andress is a contributor to the Connectivity blog.