Twitter has announced the addition of scheduled tweets to their advertising and promotion functions, where companies and advertisers can pre-arrange tweets several days, weeks or even months in advance. While this is a new offering from Twitter, it’s something that businesses have been doing for a while. The trick to scheduling tweets is how to fine tune your schedule so it benefits your business.
“This tool provides flexibility to plan your message in advance,” said Twitter in their announcement, explaining how the function could be used to plan upcoming news and events, which can be used by accessing Twitter Ads. While there is no cost to scheduling your tweets, you cannot access the scheduling function directly from your twitter account screen and only through the twitter ad interface.
Despite this announcement, it’s important to note that scheduled tweeting isn’t new and applications like Hootsuite and marketing software Vocus have been filling the void. A number of companies have found great use for scheduling but like any new strategy, it’s required fine tuning.
Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Chief Marketing Officer at Voices.com, a service that connects businesses with voice actors worldwide and started using scheduled tweeting around August. “We had a process for creating our status updates in place. What we did was updating as need be before the whole ability to schedule came in,” says Stephanie.
“You need to have a steady stream of content and topics to share and discuss,” she adds on using scheduling posting effectively. “I think that’s very important for anyone that’s scheduling in advance. They have to be thinking about what they have in their pipeline and then structure all of those throughout the day.”
Finding the right time to schedule a tweet and how far in advance can be the tricky, but most companies suggest a week max. Many applications, and the new Twitter functions, allow for tweets to be scheduled up to a year in advance but that may not be a good idea as tragedies and unfortunate events can occur in the interim that should force you to reconsider your calendar of content. Scheduled tweets, much like many other social media functions, still leaves room for a faux pas and a social media blunder can have dangerous effects on your company’s reputation.
“We do, from time to time, schedule tweets,” says Pamela Hazelton of Retro Planet, a gifts and décor retailer. “But there is a downside, especially when scheduling them during after-hours. When followers interact with you and receive no response, it can have repercussions, especially when the tweeter wanted to point out a problem. If you’re going to schedule tweets, it’s still best to make sure someone is monitoring that account to handle any blowback.”
Stephanie also adds her advice and what to be wary of: “Maybe it’s a company that’s just released a new app or website but then they find out ‘oh my gosh, the app is crashing, we don’t want to be directing people to it and leave bad reviews’ so you take down all these promotional tweets that you were going to have because [you] don’t want a whole bunch of customer service related issues.
“There [may be] something you would like to correct before a customer sees it, maybe there was typo found,” she adds on needing to revise scheduled posts every now and again, “or there’s been an edit to the content in the meantime.”
A recurring theme of scheduled tweeting though is the need to reach audiences in different time zones. “We see a greater number of visitors from other countries when we schedule off-hour posting,” says Jesse Williams of Gray Square Media Solutions, an online marketing company based out of California. “This is because of time differences, if you are looking to build clients from all over the world you have to be actively pursuing them; scheduled posting is a great way.”
With this new tool, small businesses can explore more avenues to reach new audiences but like any new craft, it will take some honing to get right.