Should Tweets Be Scheduled?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been playing with a service called 14Blocks to schedule tweets on my personal Twitter account. By looking at the behaviour of my followers, 14Blocks figures out the best two times during each day that I should post a tweet to reach the maximum number of people.

In practice, it makes complete sense to tweet when you have the highest number of followers online. Based on a report, we published last year about how 92% of retweets happen in the first hour after a tweet has been published, tweeting to as many people as possible seems to be the way to go.

That said, it does seem strange in some ways to have such a structured approach to social media given social media is suposed to be real-time, authentic and engaging. It’s like being at a party but deciding to not have any conversations until the right number of guests appear.

Scheduling tweets may be about maximum impact but I’d be curious to see if it works as well as expected. This is only anecdotal but I don’t see tweets being more or less successful depending on when they happen.

In many respects, a successful tweet hits the mark based on the quality of the content. It may be something that captures the imagination of people because it’s entertaining, striking or different. Or it may be a link to content that resonates.

As much as there is growing interest in managing and structuring social media to be as effective and efficient as possible, it’s an approach that may not consistently deliver bang for the buck.

Being a social robot and sticking to a fixed schedule removes the spontaneity of social media and the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities to engage when they present themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I think structure is good and there may be a place to schedule tweets but it would be wrong to be a slave to automation.

12 Comments on “Should Tweets Be Scheduled?”

  1. Sounds like one of those things that makes sense on the surface but over-simplifies the whole thing – does it count how many followers each of your followers has, for instance?

    One retweet to 20,000 followers is worth ten retweets to 2,000 each. Not to mention that some areas of your social network (in the sense of your follower/fan base) might be more likely to retweet your message a second or third time.

    I think if you’re really going to capitalise on social networking, you need to be flexible, adaptable and real – people are too savvy not to spot automatic tweets these days, regardless of the time of day.

    1. Bobbie,

      It looks like 14Blocks only puts the spotlight on the number of your followers online at specific times but doesn’t look at their networks, which as you point out is a key consideration. Thanks for the comment! Mark

  2. Scheduling tweets makes good sense and can be good Twitter etiquette. To balance my work and personal life, I schedule tweets for client accounts and my own, though I monitor and engage from both throughout the day.

    On a personal level, I start the day scanning news and topic feeds. Rather than sending out a barrage of pearls, I’ll pace them for the day so as not overwhelm anyone’s timeline and to give them the moment they deserve.

    Do the same in managing client accounts. Content – relevant, interesting content – is king and interesting, relevant content is not easy to come by: it requires research, which I do for intensive periods and then pace the pearls I find. (Think of it as a content calendar of sorts.)

    This then frees me up to listen better and respond more throughout the day — yes, I do scan from mobile throughout the day to keep it fresh and live.

    Now…back to my scheduling! 🙂 @GlenGilmore

    1. Glen: Thanks for the comment and insight. I agree there is a role for scheduling tweets but I wonder to what degree. cheers, Mark

  3. For many smaller business with limited resources and time, scheduled tweets to get a consistent branding message out seems to work best. We recommend to all our clients that there needs to be a balance between using automated tools and interacting with ones fans and followers. While we do send scheduled 3-4 automated tweets out per day we also listen and respond back to people who like what we have to save or want to converse with us.

    Unless your a Comcast or Bestbuy and can troops online to engage with inquires you do need to put some automation into your social media marketing
    All the best to you success
    TPacileo – @mrbusit

  4. Good conversation topic, Mark. It seems that two sub-topics have emerged: scheduled posting and automation/auto timing of posting.

    Regarding scheduling, I know this is extremely important to Marketers. As a business professional you don’t always have the luxury of staring at a social stream for 24 hours a day. The ‘always-on’ social media manager is a horrible life to live. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be responsive or have content that is well timed and targeted.

    Finding the right mix of scheduled content and notifications alongside realtime watching and interaction is the tough balance that social media marketers should strive for. That way you are consistently providing engaging content and conversations without being a complete slave to everyone else’s schedule or whim.

    Regarding auto-timing, I think there is a place for this too. I think you may have missed the proper usage of auto-timed tweets, and that may be more 14blocks fault than yours, I’m not sure.

    If you adjust your party analogy to be “It’s like waiting for the right number of guests to appear before making an announcement or giving a speech,” then you got it right. You can plan out true engagement, but you can plan marketing and promotional pieces. That’s where timed posting makes sense.

    Sound good?

    Adam @Covati
    *Note* I am of course very biased :), but my opinions are based on work with a good number of social media marketers.

  5. “One retweet to 20,000 followers is worth ten retweets to 2,000 each”

    The above statement depends on the quality of followers. I could have doubled my followers by now but I choose not to follow people back for the sake of it. I vet my followers many of which have thousands of followers (and hardly any tweets in some cases). I doubt if I tweeted to any of these people my message would even register. Therefore, the above statement doesn’t hold true in my mind.

    Is there a place for scheduled tweets? Yes, as long as there is some real interaction throw in too.

    Jose @thedigitalpost

  6. I thought that I’d throw my 2cents into the conversation:

    This is a huge debate that I see daily in the social media world. Yes, social media is supposed to be about being social and engaging with one another. That said though, people can’t be in front of their computers 24/7 to always do this.

    Being the person who tweets on behalf of Sysomos I have to admit that I do sometimes schedule tweets. I usually put out a link to our content a few times a day to make the most of our audiences in different time zones around the world. I schedule tweets for when I know that I won’t be in front of my computer at times when I usually tweet out that content. I use either Hootsuite or Timely from Flowtown to do this. That said though, I am constantly monitoring the stream to engage with those that respond to said tweets, but the ability to be able to schedule content to go out at certain times alleviates the chain to be stuck to my computer all day long.

    I don’t think that all tweets should be scheduled and I do believe that monitoring my stream so that I can engage when people speak to me/us is the right way to go, but sometimes the ability to schedule these tweets can make one little part of my day a bit easier. Usually though, I would say content being pushed out can be scheduled, but actually engagement is and should be spontaneous. That part you can’t schedule or fake.

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  7. This is interesting. I agree with both the reasons for and against the idea of scheduling tweets. I suppose at times scheduled tweets would make sense for certain kinds of tweets (announcing a new blog post or contest for instance) but ultimately, as you mentioned, content trumps timing so that wouldn’t really work for real-time engagement, which is what I think to be the most valuable component of social media.

  8. Pingback: Los Tweets, ¿Deben ser programados? | InfomediaSysomos

  9. I’ve been using an app called AutoTweeterPro for some time. It’s actually a small and very easy to use software, which tweets from my computer. I am using unlimited trial version, which is as good as free. Hope you will find this tip useful.

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