Social media is amazing. Enough said. What other platform do you know of allows you to reach millions of people … for free?

However, awesome as it may be, social media adds a whole new job to your ever-growing list of things to do in your daily operations when working your business.

Many business owners shy away from the momentous task of doing social media marketing simply because it can become a hassle to keep up with multiple communities outside of an existing customer base.

After all, it’s difficult to track the complete “picture” with a social media campaign because you can never quite know how your efforts may be received (there are social tracking tools but the medium, as a whole, can be wild).

On top of it all, the Web never slows down. In fact, it’s speeding up, constantly adding information at an exponential pace; new business spring up overnight, old businesses die, and you’re trying to balance it all within a limited timeframe throughout your already busy day.

How do you make sense of it all? Automation.

The process of handing over parts (or all) of your social media interaction to tools to automatically update your profiles and feeds, seek out and follow new individuals, and conduct your marketing campaigns to increase your affiliate profits.

Stick with me because it’s not nearly as crazy as it sounds.

In this post, I’ll detail what networks you should be on, how you can go about automating your social media, and working the marketing angles all-the-while keeping true to your brand and ready for the future.

The Three “Big Ones” for Automation

The best of your efforts in most social media campaigns will generally rely on “the big three”.

As you could imagine, these are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Yes, Pinterest took the #3 spot in the top social media charts.

So why not expand and include LinkedIn or YouTube as part of the list? First, LinkedIn is a professional network and the last location you’d want to come across as being automated is a platform meant for business-to-business connections. As for YouTube, Google’s algorithm has evolved since early programs that would mass upload videos so it’s moot to publish a video more than once; plus, video needs to be rich and dynamic which won’t do the trick if you’re trying to blast out hundreds of 15 second shorts.

The “big three” are enough to build a solid following. Likewise, these three social networks give you plenty of mediums to work with where Facebook is great for personal connections, Twitter for the quick updates, and Pinterest for rich media. Got it? Good.

The Tools of the Trade

There are three tools that should be added to your inventory if you’re using social media in your affiliate marketing business (even if you don’t plan to automate it), these include:

This section will mainly focus on Facebook and Twitter because Pinterest is still relatively fresh in the social media sphere and, thus, there aren’t that many developed tools for it at this time – at least not on the same level as the other two networks. For now, I’d recommend taking a look at Jeff Bullas’ post on automating Pinterest to get a start on this network.

First on the list, Triberr is a platform that every affiliate marketer reading this post should become a part of simply because it allows you to create “tribes” and setup parameters to share content from another without the hassle of loading up your social media profiles/programs and manually adding the info. Triberr is free and easy to get started with; gather up some of your most loyal followers that would also like to share their information and you’ll have setup a small mastermind that gets the message out in an automated fashion.

Second, Buffer(app) allows you to schedule to most of the major social media networks. The service is free but has a premium option for scheduling out further out (and with a lot of optional, premium apps). Buffer is extremely easy to understand because it mainly looks and feels like the present social networks. Just add in your message, select the date and time to publish, and it’s good to go.

Third, Tweetdeck (or Hootsuite, either will work) are programs and services that let you track your social accounts on a larger level which is great for medium and power users. There are scheduling options built into the platforms.

Of these, at least give Triberr and Buffer a go because this will handle the majority of your social media scheduling and promotion. From there, I would recommend that you set a time during the day (or maybe just once a week) to update your scheduled content, track stats, and network with users within these platforms.

Gaining the Affiliate Advantage

By now, your experience with social media and affiliate marketing has probably been met with a lot of scorn and resistance.

The reasoning is that social media users are generally tech savvy compared to many other Web users that may still solely rely on email and older information mediums (think: your parents versus the neighbors kid with an iPhone).

Affiliate marketing, in the social sphere, has to integrate. The message must be wrapped in an entertaining (and informational) package in order for it to go beyond your input (shared). The affiliate message must be subtle but there; not too promotional but can be found if someone wants to.

The point of social media in your affiliate marketing business should be about networking, first and foremost. It’s about building connections with individuals that will aid in sharing your message, giving you feedback, and promoting your brand. Many social media followers aren’t your consumers; these are the people that know how to use the medium to forward the message to the individuals that will become the customer.

The affiliate edge comes from your ability to create a following that shares each and every message in your feed. Your ability to have people comment and link to your blog posts, like and share your Facebook updates, retweet your tweets, and whatever else you’re doing on social networks.

It’s building this following that aids your message being spread around the web. Once the message is out there, you’ll drive in the traffic and, if optimized and focused, convert this traffic either through an affiliate sale, subscription to your list, or part of your following (your choice).

Automation allows you to share this message at any time of the day no matter if you’re present or away; you can keep in touch with your followers without leaving giant gaps in communication if you need to step away from work for a prolonged period of time. Consistency is key with keeping an active following and it’s through automation that allows your message to compound in nature and entice new followers to become part of your customer list.

Keeping the Human Edge

This will be short (but it’s very important).

Social media is social because it’s, well … social. It’s all of us. Yes, there are some bots and individuals that automate everything but you’re really missing the point if you let go of the human edge. The point of social media is to connect, share, and be inspired. You’ll make great friends and acquaintances through social mediums so never pass up the opportunity to grow your network just to save a few seconds of your time from responding and talking to other members of the network.

But Will It Last?

Social media has seen a very rapid success within the last decade especially amongst younger individuals; adoption by older generations continues to climb and with this broadening of demographics comes a greater understanding of the platforms.

In all, people are social media savvy.

Many marketers relied on bait and switch tactics to convince Web users to consumer their message and promotions. In social media, people are quick to identify (and call out) promotions.

Permission marketing has quickly been adopted by brands because of the education of their community and social media users. Simply put: they know when you’re marketing to them (in most cases).

Due to a greater awareness of online marketing, social media users see through automation. People on the social mediums seek real connections with other individuals; it only takes a moment for them to realize they’re talking to, in essence, a robot.

Automation may not last forever though it could remain extremely viable due to the overwhelming amount of information on the Web. Who knows? But you must question whether complete social media automation will remain plausible in your business so while it’s here – make the most of it.

Build those real connections during your active times and supply value in the off times. Don’t pass up the long-term opportunities to network and build a real business for the quick win.

Do you automate parts of your social media campaigns? If so, what areas? Post a comment in the area below and share your opinion and advice.