You’ve read the arguments for automating social media: that with the time saved, you can have more conversations, make stronger connections with your followers, and grow your business in new ways. But do you really need to automate — or will it just distract from what’s most important?

The truth is that automation frees up time for working on strategy and customer service, which means more quality interactions with followers. You can also use automation to boost your company’s visibility by creating content at optimal times when your audience is tuned in.

So how much of your social media marketing should you automate? That’s up to you to decide. But before getting started, let’s answer a few questions:

What do I need?

Here’s the quick rundown of what you’ll need to automate your social media:

A goal for automation: What is it that you want to accomplish through automation? Is it generating new leads or growing your email list? That will help determine which social platforms and accounts are best for automation.

What is it that you want to accomplish through automation? Is it generating new leads or growing your email list? That will help determine which social platforms and accounts are best for automation. A plan: How will you know if your automation is working? Make sure you know if the automation is producing the desired outcome, and what to do when it isn’t.

How will you know if your automation is working? Make sure you know if the automation is producing the desired outcome, and what to do when it isn’t. The technology: All of the social media automation tools offer different features. If you want video to play automatically on your YouTube channel or for Tweets to be sent out at a certain time, for example, make sure that’s possible with the tool(s) you choose.

All of the social media automation tools offer different features. If you want video to play automatically on your YouTube channel or for Tweets to be sent out at a certain time, for example, make sure that’s possible with the tool(s) you choose. Time constraints: For those who have limited time, it’s important to know how much time each social media platform takes to upload and post content. Make plans so that you can use your social media as efficiently as possible.

For those who have limited time, it’s important to know how much time each social media platform takes to upload and post content. Make plans so that you can use your social media as efficiently as possible. A human touch : Make sure that all of your automation procedures are followed. If you don’t have the manpower, consider hiring someone else or outsourcing to another social media platform (or two).

: Make sure that all of your automation procedures are followed. If you don’t have the manpower, consider hiring someone else or outsourcing to another social media platform (or two).