Yes, I Time some Tweets – Here’s Why

There are apps that allow you to space out your tweets over time (I use Hootsuite for this). Some people protest the use of timed tweets – and while I understand the sentiment behind that stance, I don’t agree with it.

Here’s why.

I use Twitter for several purposes:

  • Back-and-forth interaction with people (banter, brainstorming, encouraging, etc.)
  • Sharing interesting news and other resources
  • Connecting people with each other
  • Sharing my own blog posts and pictures
  • Sharing other people’s blog posts (especially those with whom I have a closer connection)
  • Making ironic comments and bad puns
  • Giving good morning greetings

Some of these purposes are more real-time – for instance, back-and-forth chatting with folks is not something that can be automated. But I do automate a fair bit of one-way sharing of “stuff,” for the simple reason that the audience on Twitter is constantly shifting. People are looking at their tweetstreams intermittently throughout the day, which means that something tweeted at 7:22 am might not be seen by a person who first logs in at 9:57 am.

While it makes sense that you might then tweet your own blog posts at a few different times during the day (I do), the really creative and helpful part of this isn’t the self-promotion aspect. The less-discussed secret is the way you can benefit your network of readers and writers.

Why use timed tweets? To gain wider exposure for others’ work!  <<–(click to tweet this).

Let’s say that I read an interesting post from Shelly Kramer‘s blog that, in the (very real) example below, actually touches on a similar theme (the timing of posts getting read on Facebook). If she posts it at, say, 7 am, and a number of her followers retweet it over the next half hour, then most of the exposure for her post may occur in a pretty narrow window.

TimeTweet

But if a reader makes the simple choice to “time” a tweet with a link to occur at, say, 10 am, then that reader’s audience gets the benefit of seeing something they might have missed at 7 am, AND Shelly gets wider exposure in a new time slot as well.

You know how most people get retweets immediately after they tweet something? Why not do everyone a favor and time-delay your tweet for a few hours – or even a day (I’ve seen some of my friends do this. It can give the tweeted link a whole new life).

So – when we understand that part of Twitter is for sharing things that may not be designed for real-time interaction, automating certain tweets makes perfect sense. Especially with this small tweet-tweak – give the people who feed you great content the gift of a fresh audience.

Have you been doing this? And here’s a question that’s been on my mind – I have done very little with scheduling tweets for overnight/overseas reach. If you’re doing this, how’s it working out? Any tips to share?

ALSO: See some interesting stats and perspectives about tweeting blog posts from Mack Collier.

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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

30 Responses to Yes, I Time some Tweets – Here’s Why

  1. mackcollier says:

    That makes perfect sense, I do the same thing, if I know I will be away from my computer or busy, I will schedule tweets. Otherwise, I tweet a link out to that day’s post every 2-3 hours. I’ve tweeted out links to new posts as many as 5 times on the day I publish them.

    And if you don’t think the timing matters, spend a few minutes on Twitter tonight around 10pm and notice how many people are tweeting ‘good morning!’. You are reaching a global audience, rather you realize it or not.

  2. I misread this “Making ironic comments and bad puns” as making iconic comments. Go you!

    I schedule tweets from my blog, 12 Most and others that I want to share later using Buffer to space things out more evenly creates a more balanced stream. I think the lofty ideal that you should only tweet when it’s live is a silly one. No one expects you to be live on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ live for each post. Why is this expectation set up for Twitter?

    Do you change the title of your post at all when you reshare?

  3. Tom Martin says:

    Tend to agree Steve. I also pay attention to when MY FOLLOWERS are active — so even though a post gets published at 8am when I’m online, I often delay the share until later in the morning when I know my folks are online.

    Obviously this benefits both the writer (true audience and traffic to the post) and my follower because by sharing it when I think THEY would be online, I gave them a better chance of seeing the link in their stream.

    • One thing I also tend to do, Tom – I’ll share the post on LinkedIn (and through LinkedIn, to Twitter) later in the morning. Killing two birds with one stone.

  4. I totally agree and have never understood why people are so wrapped up about it. It just makes sense. Twitter is time-based. You tweet falls out of someone’s stream within minutes or seconds depending on the person’s network size. I use Sprout’s queuing feature which is similar to buffer. If I see something I like I put it in the queue based on several times I’ve preset.

    I’m going to be doing some testing around adding times that take the various global time zones into account. I’ll let you know what I see.

    Also, love the conversation about tweeting your own post multiple times. I’ve never considered this, but it makes a crapton of sense. I’m going to test that as well for Social Media Explorer content.

    I believe everything is worth testing. Instead of people bashing others for doing something that doesn’t work for them, how about we recognize that everyone’s audiences are unique and what works for one audience may be very different for another. But at the same time opening your mind up to testing within your own audience is just smart.

    Thanks for another thought provoking post!

    Rock on!

  5. I have been using this concept for some time now and agree that if used wisely, it can be quite the advantage in reaching those that would not normally read my tweets that are sent during my coffee breaks – or ‘reality/insanity breaks’. As an artist, writer and musician, many of the people I attempt to reach have unusual hours themselves. As an example, various groups of people with normally different active time-slots might include: Gothic lifestyle for my Music, the scientific community for sharing new articles of interest, writers circles, etc.

    Plus, there is the issue of targeting those in other countries for some choice updates…

    • Like Tom Martin above, your pinpointing a vital point – when is the AUDIENCE looking? I post most of my blogs early in morning (initially) – but people on the West Coast are sleeping then!

  6. Joe Cascio says:

    I guess I will be the lone contrarian here, at least for the moment.

    I have always had a problem with people that are “drive-by” tweeters. You know the ones. They pop up once every few days, and say “How’s everyone doing? What’s up today?”, then log off. It’s like going to a party, yelling “Hey everyone, I’m here!”, then ducking out because you’ve got something else more important to do. Well, that’s just taking advantage of people’s time. I’m not impressed that you came in just to “show the flag” and leave.

    Timed tweets fall in the same category for me. It’s output-only interruption marketing. Spray and pray.

    When someone tweets something and I take my time to read it, respond, ask a question, or add some commentary, I honestly feel rather abused if my response is ignored. Like, “oh thanks, but your opinion is not worth my time right now.” Rationalize all you want, but you’re expecting my time and attention with no intention to reciprocate with YOUR time and attention.

    • Joe, I understand your POV. And we all have to decide how we want to use the platform, and who “fits” with our expectations. As for me, I use Twitter for both two-way conversation AND one-way sharing of “stuff.” I don’t always expect interaction around everything I might put out. If I can put a spotlight on something/someone interesting and valuable, I see that as a public service; and hopefully (tho not 24/7) I can engage with people if there’s a discussion around it.

    • I think the challenge is that you are assuming it’s an either or. I use scheduled posts so that when I am on I can focus on conversing with others, not typing the next tweet about something I’m sharing. It creates efficiency and enables me to have that dialogue so I don’t become that d-bag you just described. I’m not perfect, but I’m trying really hard to spend more time having thoughtful discussion. But it’s a constant challenge to find time in light of the day, night and weekend jobs of running an agency, Social Media Explorer, and the Explore events. :-) But I’m always thankful for those who understand that it isn’t “personal” if I don’t get back to you right away. If I had my druthers I’d live on Twitter, but it isn’t the reality of our business. Falls has always seemed to be able to strike a great balance. I’m trying to be as awesome as he is at it. He’s a tough act to live up to. :-)

      • Joe Cascio says:

        Perhaps a solution is to have 2 accounts. One that’s real-time-only and one that’s output-only. When you put automated broadcasts and “live” tweets out on the same account, it can cause people to feel like they’re being played. It’s how you feel when you discover that you’ve been having a 10 min conversation with a cardboard cutout.

        I think a 2-account approach would exhibit more truth-in-advertising and foster greater good will. If you’ve shown me, as Steve has over the years, thru real interaction and conversation that you’re a great person to listen to, I would pay attention to your broadcast channel, but not bother to respond until I saw you “live”. Does that make sense?

        ps. I await the @swoodruff_sys.out account. :)

    • Gail Gardner says:

      Joe, you’re looking at Twitter as though you’re live in a room with someone. There is no way anyone can know WHEN you will see a tweet and the odds are they won’t be available when you respond. What matters is that we DO respond – not exactly WHEN we do it. That is the beauty of Twitter: fast, efficient communication on an as-time-allows basis.

  7. Joe – I think people need to get real about the fact that we are all human beings and as such that we are all fallible and have lives outside of Twitter. To take personal offense to someone not responding to you right away, in my humble opinion is a little self-centered and, yes I’m going to say it needy. That’s about you. That’s not really about me or my true intention to be more involved and a genuine desire to be part of the community.

    The reality is that when we share someone else’s content we are in essence providing value to them, whether we are waiting on the other end to respond to every tweeted response within 10 minutes or not.

    Just sayin’. It’s only my perspective and I’m just one little person who tweets and doesn’t always have time to answer within a time frame that may not offend you.

    • Sorry, forgot to mention. To me maintaining two accounts to suit someone else’s needs when I feel I make a genuine effort seems absurd.

    • Joe Cascio says:

      Well, let me turn that around if I may. The entire thread of this conversation has been, “I’m too busy to interact with people. I need to get MY message out and I can’t spend time on Twitter interacting with people.” I’m sorry, but the other side of the needy coin is people who think their time is more important than my time. Let’s not forget who is doing who a favor here.

      • Jason Falls says:

        I think you’re making a big assumption or two. I schedule tweets that share content … mostly other people’s. Nichole is the same way. We certainly mix our own blog posts, etc., in there, but it’s not about our needs. It’s about being useful to the audience. If we were only spamming people with promotional crap, you’ve got a point. You’re looking at this in a very black vs. white way. It’s all gray, bro.

      • Gail Gardner says:

        I have to agree with Nichole and Jason here. Bloggers and influencers use Twitter differently than people who use it like chat. There are much better platforms for holding back and forth real time conversations: Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, AOL Messenger, MSN Messenger, the chat functions in G+ or FB or elsewhere. Even when you use those, though, lives go on. People can’t be there every minute we are just because we want them to be.

        The people who only want to use Twitter to talk to specific people are never going to be happy with how influencers use Twitter. As I explained to an intelligent blogger who should have realized this, you can not make everyone happy. When you have 20 or 30,000+ followers they can’t all have it their way. Even if you only have TWO followers they might not have it their way.

        As we get older and wiser we have to come to realize that the world does not revolve around just us and that there is not only one “right” way to do anything. It reminds me of the impression I always got from my Father was – believing that everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but anyone who didn’t agree with him was an idiot. It is better to understand that there are many ways to live and the only person we can control is the one looking back in the mirror.

  8. Joe: I actually do maintain an output-only separate account for my pharma audience: @impactiviti. And on the profile page for that account I direct people to interact with me at @swoodruff. I’ve contemplated doing something similar for general marketing/tech/social media with my mostly dormant @connectionagent account, but haven’t quite decided yet. It’s one way to try to address the conundrum but I’m just not sure about its effectiveness…anyone else have experience using such an approach?

    • Joe Cascio says:

      I was thinking more along the lines of an account named “swoodruff_broadcast” or something similar that allowed you to leverage your personal brand without compromising your in-person authenticity. Maybe not that much different than what you’re already doing.

  9. Jason Falls says:

    I’ve always been open about using scheduled tweets for a number of reasons. First, I only schedule Tweets that share content — nothing that starts a conversation or is interpersonal with anyone in my audience. So there’s context. But I do it because A) I only have a limited amount of time to find and share content each day. Puking it all out at once would be a disservice to everyone’s stream and those happening by a few hours later wouldn’t have a chance to see the content. B) I can be useful to more people throughout the day since not everyone is on Twitter at the same time. I serve more people with the content I share.

    Now, when I can (which is normally fairly often), I pop on to Twitter and see if anyone has asked me questions, requested more explanation, started up a separate conversation or — sometimes — even reported a broken link. So I make sure the automation is cared for after the fact. I also engage and interact when I can.

    But to Nichole’s points and Joe’s assertions — I kinda think it is rather shortsighted to think that just because one person doesn’t respond to one Tweet right away, they are disrespectful of their audience. It might just be they’re busy with real life, going to the bathroom or otherwise distracted. I follow with as much as I can when I can. If any member of my followers isn’t happy with that, social media is opt-in, opt-out. Don’t follow me.

    I’ll be useful to those who aren’t so wound up about it.

    • As far as our practices, Jason, I think we’ve landed in about the same place…

    • Gail Gardner says:

      I use Twitter in much the same way as Jason and Steve. I encourage bloggers to feed other blogs whose audiences are similar to mine and whose content is consistently excellent. We are all far too busy to curate every single link we share. I know that @Kikolani @WeBlogBetter @AskKim @Ileane and so many other bloggers will never publish anything objectionable or bad so I am confident that it serves everyone for me to feed all their new posts.

      When bloggers collaborate in this manner, their content reaches a much wider audience and has the potential to go viral on Twitter and elsewhere. If we have to wait until we have time to share none will ever get any traction. Then we can just plug any link from our blog into Topsy.com and ensure we are supporting those who support us. We can also discover new audiences the same way.

      Commun.it makes it much easier for beginners to get the hang of Twitter and for those of us who do not naturally build relationships well to improve our skills. I highly recommend it as it is really easy to learn – unlike Hootsuite which is powerful, but has a steep learning curve.

      Some believe we should only retweet content we totally agree with and to that I say if I only tweeted opinions that were 100% identical to my own I would not have much to retweet. To me, sharing is a recognition and respect of someone else’s experience and writing which I believe is worth sharing – even when I disagree with points within it or prefer my own strategies. People must be adults and do their own due diligence or follow up and ask questions – not blindly believe everything they read or we retweet.

  10. Joe Cascio says:

    Everyone but me in this conversation is a marketing professional, if I’m not mistaken. You view the social media world thru a different lens than I do, and I guess I shouldn’t try to impress my values on you. You look at Twitter as business. I look at it as life. Maybe those views are incompatible.

  11. I think there’s a reasonable case for scheduling tweets. Then again, I’ve seen some users–mostly in the entertainment industry–who actually make tweeting in manic spurts work for them. (**cough**Nathan Fillion**cough**)

    Yes, they sort of dominate their followers’ streams from time to time. Yes, that sometimes leads to drop-off. But the people who are left (A) are genuinely invested in hearing from them and (B) those spurts are often like a comedian’s “warm up” and end up producing really fun, fresh, surprising (and highly retweetable) stuff.

  12. Steve, as we were chatting about on G+, I schedule tweets according to when my audience is active on Twitter… not essentially when I am. Using Tweriod has helped determine when those times are. Those who are interested in being engaged when their audience is likely (“is likely” is the operative phrase) to be on should be monitoring these times.

    As I’ve mentioned in other places, you need to have a good mix of informative links and conversation on your Twitter stream.

    It is incredibly arrogant and unreasonable to assume that if I tweet something, even if I direct it to a specific person, that I demand they be logged in at that very minute to receive and respond to it. ‘Nuff said.

    • Joe Cascio says:

      It’s not about demands, but expectations and being honest. I don’t think it’s arrogant or unreasonable that if I see a post that’s 1 min old from an account that you post “live” from, to expect that you might be online to receive a reply from me.

      You’re only hurting yourself if people take the time to respond and get nothing back. If that happens enough, they’ll stop responding or following you altogether. Then what have you gained?

      This is not to say that bots or output-only accounts are necessarily bad. For instance, the Connecticut Dept of Transportation auto-posts alerts about accidents, road-closures and the like. That’s great information. There are lots of other such bots that have real utility and auto-posted content from good curators can have value, too, but only if it’s plainly marked as such. This is where the honesty part comes in. As I’ve suggested previously here, if you clearly mark auto-posted content, perhaps with an #autopost tag, I would have no complaint. I can respond or not but I am doing it without laboring under false pretenses.

      Now, if you say, “but people will filter out auto-posted tweets”, then you’ve made my point for me. Because that means your intention all along was to try to get people to read and respond by exploiting the fact that they can’t tell if you’re there or not.

      This is pretty simple concept. If you want people to read and respond, then you’ve got to reciprocate. Twitter is and always has been primarily a live conversational medium, and I think you have play ball that way.

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