Author : Tiya Ivy
Just walking through the halls of the Dome, chatting with different reps about various SEO and social media automation programs, I was instantly taken aback by one major contradiction between the presentations that make the event so successful, versus the products and services being promoted in the Corn Exchange that day.
After a few discussions with sales reps in the exhibition hall, any digital marketer could easily develop a niggling feeling that everything they do, (down to the quality of the content they create), could simply be substituted with the right combination of automation programs on offer... but can it really?
Can Automated Content Scheduling Systems Replace Humans?
As I actively ignored the growing feeling of potential irrelevancy in my own profession, we shuffled into the concert hall for David Mihm's 'Maximising Your Local Search Presence in 2016' lecture, where scattered within the multitude of the really insightful sections of his presentation, was a resounding message - there is no way to replace human interaction with automation.
Not only is automation in no way a substitute for interpersonal interactions, there are some big downsides and risks involved in relying too much on automated systems; such as predictability, impersonality, and delayed response times. There's also a very real danger that if you're relying too much on automated systems, you are bombarding your audience with far too much information, (one of the biggest reasons for losing followers), consequently making you less relevant in the SERPs.
Your company is not relevant all the time... only when your customer wants you to be. The real challenge is knowing what they want, and when they want it - and that's not something an automated system can do on autopilot.
How to Balance Automation with Engaging Real-Time Content
This is not to say that automation programs don't have value, quite the contrary. At Molokini, we have an ever-developing combination of powerful tools we use to supplement our digital marketing campaigns and efforts, but behind those programs and systems are people. People who know how to write for both robots AND other people. People who understand how to apply the calculated statistics into effective action moving forward.
If you are writing purely for humans, the search engines may not know how your content compares to your competitors. On the flip-side, if you're only writing for Google web crawlers... humans aren't going to be engaged. Either way, your search rankings and digital marketing efforts will pay the price.
It's all very well and good to invest in a programs like BrightEdge, MOZ or Sprout Social (all really potent programs which we use regularly), but without the right people in the driver's seat, it could all be for nought...or even minus nought. Take BrightEdge for example: there's no denying that it will streamline finding the gaps in your keyword strategy, meta data, headings, page titles, image alt tags and general content, (which is indeed a very powerful tool in the right hands). However, if you don't know which keywords connect you to your audience, you could end up actually damaging your search rankings. Especially if you inadvertently chose to target keywords that are not applicable to your ideal demographic, and the web crawlers subsequently deem your page irrelevant in the very search phrases you're competing for.
Additionally, there is no program on the market that can automate a viral blog, video, infographic or social media post without input from you. According to an article in SocialTriggers, content most likely to go viral generally has one or more of following traits: it's positive, it evokes emotion (positive or negative) and it's useful. The one thing all three of these triggers have in common: they speak to humans, on a human level.
The Relationship Between Social Media and SEO is Real
No matter how well structured your site is for technical SEO, those efforts will need to be combined with regular, engaging content (blogs, images, infographics, videos, social media posts, press releases and more).
Social media and SEO both work towards one goal: achieving relevance for your audience. Google uses social media to discover new content, social shares is the new link building and search engines rank your site higher if they see you are a credible source. If you're only focused on the technical side of SEO and automating everything, you're missing out on a variety of channels which can connect you with your target market.
When content designed by humans for human consumption is produced alongside sturdy automated campaigns running in the background, your digital marketing efforts will be a force to be reckoned with.
But to be heard in the digital sphere, there has to be a human being in the driver's seat, not a robot.
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