Scheduling and automating tweets

Yesterday, I had a quick Twitter discussion with Calvin Lee and Donna White and this tweet…

prompted me to write about something I’ve been thinking about for some time. Should tweets be scheduled and/or automated?

If the point to Twitter is to be social, I think one needs to be careful with both.

Scheduling is okay

IF you’re doing it to benefit your friends, not just for your own benefit. For example, if you normally come across a dozen links you’d like to share on Twitter within a very short amount of time, posting them “as you see them” could certainly annoy some of your followers. The only sensible solution to this problem is to schedule that link sharing. Nothing wrong with keeping a list of things to share later.

BUT don’t automate your schedule

It can be very tempting to “set it and forget it” so you can maximize the “right” times to post or fill out your editorial calendar or maximize your exposure even when you are sitting on a beach somewhere and not really being social. Not only is this not exactly social, but it carries with it a potential downside. If you follow anyone who has tweets automatically scheduled - which you almost certainly do - you may have seen some very inappropriate tweets after a school shooting or other similar tragedy. I read something today that provides just one example of the kind of thing that can go wrong when posts are scheduled, even when done with the purest of intentions.

Other kinds of automation are okay

IF it helps you be more social.

I will never forget when I first discovered how to use FriendFeed (which is shutting down soon) to automatically post some of my activity to Twitter. I loved it. Some time later, I learned about IF (formerly ifttt) via a post by Leslie Orchard called Social Media Cyborg. FriendFeed had become less reliable for this and I thought IF made a great replacement. IF even does one better by letting you set up rules so that content is uploaded natively. If you are liking YouTube videos and posting pictures on Flickr, etc. already, why not use a tool that makes it eaiser for you to share that with your friends in almost real time? It’s not like you’re sitting on a beach somewhere ignoring your frirends while the robots do the socializing. You’re sharing with your friends and you’ll be there if one of your friends wants to talk about it.