#017 - When NOT to Automate in Your Business - BS'ing with Brandi
Welcome to BS’ing with Brandi where my mission is to help you #GetShitDone. I'm your host Brandi Good and today we’re going to talk about when you shouldn't automate in your business. I'm often talking about automation and how you should do it as much as possible but there are definitely times when automation is going to do your business a disservice.
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I wanted to talk about those times specifically so that people can kind of understand I'm not saying that you should have bots and Zapier and everything running your business 100% of the time. There are times when it is not appropriate to automate but that differs from business to business and situation to situation. What I want to do is give a few general guidelines for when you shouldn’t automate if you're in a position where you're trying to figure out what you should do, and then I want to dive into some really specific examples of when you should never automate or maybe an example of where an automation went wrong.
I also want to clarify what I mean when I'm talking about automation. A lot of people hear the word “automation” and get scared because they are thinking about really complex things happening with supercomputers but when I'm talking about automation in terms of business automation it’s anything that you can set up that runs without the intervention of another human i.e. you.
Let's start with some more general situations where you probably don't want to automate.
1. When you don't know what you're doing.
If you have some sort of business process and you don't actually understand it or know how to complete it or have a clear idea of what you want to happen at the end of that process then you shouldn't be automating it. The best advice I always give people when they're trying to decide should I automate this or not is “Do you have all the steps worked out manually? Because if you don't then how are you supposed to tell the computer what to do?”
2. When it's something that isn't a repeatable process.
Automation is good for straightforward repetitive tasks, but if you have something that you do every month but depending on what's going on in your business the process changes every single time you do those are the kinds of things that are not a good candidate for automation.
3. It happens infrequently or the set up is more work than what you’d save.
Something that you just do quarterly or annually can sometimes be more trouble than they're worth to set up an automation for. To be fair you could hire someone to figure out how to automate tasks if you think eventually it is going to save you time and sometimes it's about frustration as well so even if there is something that only takes you half hour but you just absolutely hate doing it then having someone you hired spend a couple hours figuring out how to automate that task is probably going to be worth it to you
What about some specific examples of when you shouldn't be automating in your business or examples of when automation went wrong? These are typically the things that I see the most and a lot of the time I think I think people do them because they're so focussed on saving time that they don't realize the impact that they're having on the people interacting with their business or it's just they haven't properly worked through the steps of what needed to happen and then the automation has kind of gone awry.
1. Email tagging & segmentation - getting offers and sales pitches for things you’ve already bought.
At the time of recording, it’s B-School season. I’m a B-School alum, and I subscribe to a lot of other people who are affiliates of B-School so my inbox is full of people trying to sell me B-School. One of these people is the affiliate that I purchased through. But every year she pitches it to me again, and every year I think “I should be tagged in your system somewhere that you don't need to send me these because I'm not going to buy it again.”
I think that getting emails for things that you've already purchased or opted in for is probably the number one pet peeve I hear from people when we're talking about tagging and segmenting in email software. It’s probably a case of the tagging and segmenting and automation wasn't fully thought through when it was originally set up
2. Social media autoresponders - Facebook vs Instagram.
Facebook pages have built-in autoresponders - I actually have the schedule set up on my Facebook page it says these are my hours and if somebody messages my page outside of those hours send this message to them automatically.
Instagram doesn't have any sort of built-in autoresponder feature. For now you have to use a third-party app if you want to auto DM someone. These are triggered when you follow a profile and Instagram people really hate it. It seems like people use these bots always to pitch not to engage so maybe that's just something that needs to change. I have gotten a few auto DMs where they were actually we're engaging, like “hey this is a bot but I wanted to say hi and welcome you and for following my account blah blah blah”.
3. Using bots to engage with Instagram accounts and followers.
I want to emphasize that using third-party software to engage with other accounts is actually a violation of Instagram terms and conditions and they've cracked down really hard on accounts. You'll actually get penalized. Your posts will start to get less reach and engagement, or worst case your account will get suspended.
The other thing about these bot services? They are going to hurt you in the long run because people are pretty good at spotting a bot versus a human. Don't like insult your follower’s intelligence by having a bot comment on all their stuff and expect them to appreciate that. Chances are those are comments that they're just going to delete or hide or they're going to end up removing you as a follower.
4. Cross-posting the exact same post to multiple networks.
I am 100% advocating for scheduling social media posts but . . . you shouldn't take the exact same post with the exact same words and character count and hashtags and images and links and videos and put that exact same post on every social network. People on Facebook don’t want to see your 30 Instagram hashtags
Also, there have been studies that say that using hashtags on Facebook actually hurts the performance of posts. It only takes a minute to customize your posts for different networks, so please put in that effort.
That wraps up today’s episode of BS’ing with Brandi. If you enjoyed this topic, you can find more like it at bsingwithbrandi.com, along with show notes and links to any resources mentioned today. While you’re there, feel free to subscribe to future episodes on the platform of your choice, and I wish you all the best getting shit done this week!
- If you are ready to start automating, check out these automation services in episode 7 - Zapier vs Integromat vs Automate
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