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The Advantages of Social Media Automation for your Health Coaching Business

advantages of social media automation
advantages of social media automation

'Social Media Automation'

Now there’s a sexy term...

Cue images of soulless robots and production lines pumping out an endless supply of synthetic clones and one-size-fits-all wellness marketing.

Hardly sounds like an organic tactic you’d want to employ to engage people and attract potential clients to your health coaching business does it?

Yet when approached with care & a customer-first mindset, the advantages of social media scheduling (or ‘automation’ as it’s called in marketing circles) can be:

  • Authentic
  • Efficient
  • Engaging
  • Profitable

With that in mind, we’ll be addressing 3 questions:

  1. What are the advantages of social media automation in your health coaching business?
  2. Is social media automation a good tactic to employ in your health coaching business?
  3. Which of the 3 ‘big hitters’ (Buffer, Hootsuite & Edgar) is best for me as a health and wellness professional?

A word on tools...

advantages of social media
advantages of social media

The advantages of social media automation in your health coaching business

As with anything related to wellness marketing, the advantages of social media automation only become evident when you take the time to get SMART & specific with your wellness marketing strategy by asking: 'what is the desired outcome of this project?'

Equally important is taking the time to develop a basic understanding of content strategy in wellness marketing as well as the role of social media within that overall strategy.

Social media is for growing your health coaching business - not for building it

 All too often we see health and wellness business owners attempting to build their business on whichever social media platform is in right now (Snapchat, Periscope, Insta-whateversnext). By 'build' we mean have your entire business exist on a platform you don't own (Facebook, Medium, LinkedIn etc rather than a website with a domain that you own).

This approach (called ‘Digital Sharecropping') is inherently risky for you as a business owner because you have absolutely no control over the platform you’re using. As in the case of Facebook, algorithms can change overnight, leaving you with almost no one visiting your page. It isn't a dramatisation to say that this could lead to your health coaching business closing down.

It’s for exactly those reasons that it’s always best to build your business by creating content in a location you control - in this case your own website - and then leverage the advantages of social media to grow your business by sharing your content and engaging with potential clients in the external environment.

And the ultimate goal of all this?

To draw potential clients back to the space your health coaching business controls (your own website) through the content you share. It’s here that the advantages of social media really begin to emerge.

How to effectively use social media automation

Automation has an element of risk attached to it because handled improperly, it can alienate your audience. Chances are you've followed someone on Twitter and been greeted by something resembling the following:

"Hey {{name}}, Thanks for the follow! Download your free guide to {{irrelevant topic}} here."

We know we’re not alone in being instantly irritated and turned off by what we consider to the absence of any real empathy for others that this approach demonstrates.

Clearly then there’s a wrong way to automate…

Wellness marketing done right: Effective approaches to social media automation:

1. Schedule updates and topics aimed at generating discussion

Pre-scheduling topical, relevant questions to go out to your audience at a specific point in the future is a great way to boost engagement and get a conversation going. Naturally you’ll need to be on top of when the questions are going out and then be on hand to actively take part in and guide the discussion.

2. Pre-plan sharing of your own content

As a savvy online health coaching business owner with an understanding of the role content plays in your business, you’ll know that getting your ideal client’s eyes on your blog posts and video content is essential if they’re to join your audience & move closer to becoming a loyal client.

Scheduling regular shares of high-quality content you’ve already created is essential if you’re to reach a large number of your potential clients, all of whom are on social media at different times.

3. Send out high-quality content from other sources

Sharing high-quality content from other leading voices in your industry is a fantastic way to boost your own authority & that of your health coaching business in the eyes of your audience. Being able to share content others are creating to build your potential customers’ trust in you is one of the major benefits of social media & shouldn't be overlooked, even though it can seem counterintuitive to direct your audience to information not created by you.

Rather than weakening the position of your health coaching business, it demonstrates your expertise, the confidence you have in your own expertise and abilities & helps you build mutually-beneficial relationships with the people whose content you share.

Social media automation tools: Which, When and Why?

The potential advantages of social media automation are clear - but how do you go about choosing the right tool for your business when most of the social media automation tools on the market share the same basic features:

  • Connect to multiple social networks
  • Pre-schedule updates to be sent to your chosen networks at specific times
  • Collaborate with other team members (VAs for example)
  • Review how your posts are performing using analytics (geeky but important)

For most of us those foundational features are enough but the three leading tools, Hootsuite, Buffer and Edgar, all offer a variety of extra features, ranging from the crucial to the nice-to-have.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is unique in its visual approach, using ‘streams’ or live feeds of the activity on your individual networks in a structure not dissimilar to a Trello board. This layout makes it easy to get an overview of everything that’s happening on all of your social accounts.

Hootsuitedashboardoverview.jpg.jpg

Plusses

  • Kanban-board-style layout makes visualising your activity easy
  • Ability to connect external apps and services (Evernote, Pocket, MailChimp, Wordpress, Storify, Foursquare, Google Drive, Salesforce and many more)
  • Filters and notifications allow you to manage conversations
  • Post to all of your networks at once (or choose specific ones)
  • Advanced post scheduling options
  • In-depth analytics
  • Chrome extension

Minuses

  • Team accounts and detailed analytics are paid features and can add up quickly
  • Kanban-board layout isn’t for everyone
  • Many of the most useful apps require payment
  • Currently no content library to store past updates

The damage

As of 2016 there are both free and paid (Pro versions) offering considerably different features.

Free version

  • 3 social profiles
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, WordPress, Instagram and Youtube support
  • Basic analytics
  • Up to 2 free RSS feeds
  • Free apps

Premium: £6.99 per month (paid annually)

  • Up to 50 social profiles
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, WordPress, Instagram and Youtube support
  • Bulk message scheduling
  • Access to Premium paid apps
  • 1 User account with ability to add up to 10 (each requiring further payment)
  • 1 in-depth analytics report

How do I know it’s right for me?

Hootsuite is our automation tool of choice, primarily because of the visual layout (it matches the layout of our project management tool, Activecollab). Scheduling is simple and the interface means there’s never any need to log in to individual networks unless you want to.

As a solo health coaching business owner, a free account is a great option. Staying on top of three or four networks is simple and the scheduling functions are easy to get to grips with. Managing settings requires a little bit of a learning curve but the support is generally excellent.

Buffer

Buffer is, in many ways, a far simpler tool than Hootsuite. Its more linear layout may be more appealing to you, particularly if you find the multi-account Hootsuite display shows you too much info at once.

Bufferdashboardoverview.jpg.jpg.jpg

Plusses

  • Linear, simplistic and less of a learning curve than Hootsuite
  • Ability to set times at which posts will go out on a daily basis
  • Content library feature allows you to store your past updates for future sharing
  • Free image creator, Pablo, allows you to create shareable graphics
  • Share to Facebook pages and Linkedin company pages
  • Analytics
  • Choice of link shorteners
  • Chrome extension

Minuses

  • Some might find the linear layout cumbersome and simplistic
  • Pinterest requires a paid account
  • Only able to connect one account to each social network on free accounts

Free version

  • Limited to a single user
  • Choice of up to 4 social networks
  • Allows 10 scheduled posts at a time per profile
  • 1 account per social network

Premium:£6.99 per month

  • Use up to 10 social accounts
  • Schedule up to 100 posts for each social profile
  • Pinterest scheduling
  • Still only 1 user
  • 1 RSS feed

How do I know it’s right for me?

If you need a simple social scheduling tool to plan your content sharing ahead of time with a minimum of fuss, Buffer is a good (and affordable) option. While we have used it in the past, we find Hootsuite’s visual layout easier (and quicker) to use. The content library is a valuable feature though as it allows you to store your past updates for later sharing.

Edgar

Finally we come to the multi-talented octopus that is Edgar. With a somewhat different approach to social scheduling than Hootsuite and Buffer, Edgar focuses on categorising your content and maintaining a constant queue of shareable content.

Edgardashboard.jpg

Plusses

  • Build and categorise your ‘content library’ of shares
  • Posts added to the back of the queue to be shared again
  • Advanced categorised sharing
  • Share to Facebook Group and Linkedin Company Pages
  • Intelligently uses analytics in auto-scheduling
  • Frees up a lot of time with automatic scheduling

Minuses

  • Currently invite-only
  • Only supports Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin
  • No unpaid plans
  • Requires large upfront time investment to create content library
  • Too expensive for most solo nutrition business owners

What’s the damage?

Starter: £35 per month with a 30-day free trial

  • Yes, you read that correctly…
  • Connect up to 10 social accounts
  • Store up to 1000 posts

Premium: £46 per month

  • Connect up to 25 social accounts
  • Store up to 5,000 posts

How do I know it’s right for me?

Impressive though Edgar’s features are, we can’t help feeling that it’s overkill for most small health coaching business owners. Sure you’ll (potentially) save a lot of time but you need to be very clear on the return you’ll be getting. We would recommend only considering Edgar once you have a very clear wellness marketing strategy in place and a considerable library of your own content.

In summary…

  • Buffer: simplest, least to learn, customisable, relatively inexpensive
  • Hootsuite: For slightly more tech-savvy, visual people with an interest in analytics
  • Edgar: For the advanced social media user with a large body of content
Socialmediaautomationtoolsreview.jpg

Your thoughts

What are your thoughts on the advantages of social media automation and on the three options we’ve covered? Share them below!