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.

Three Reasons to use “Timed” Tweets

For a long time, I’ve used Twitter in two modes – “live” mode, where I’m uploading an interacting in real time, and “delayed” mode, where I make use of time-delayed tweeting.

I use the Hootsuite client and the “Hootlet” toolbar for the latter – Hootsuite has an excellent capacity for scheduling tweets.

“Timed” tweets have sometimes gotten a bad rap because of the fear of spamming behavior. However, scheduling tweets can, in fact, be a very helpful way to communicate with your network. Here are three reasons why (and how) I use them.

1. The audience on Twitter at any given time is always changing. If you put out a tweet at 8:45 am, and someone logs in at 9:30 who really would have benefited from that information, guess what? It’s probably lost. Since the audience is changing throughout the day, it is wise to spread out your informational tweets (sharing of interesting links, etc.) throughout the day to reach a larger and more diverse audience. Most people that know me know I’m an early-morning guy, and I do most of my information curation/writing between 6-9 am. But many of those tweets are then timed to show up all throughout the day and into the evening. Because only a small percentage of us (a very predictable group, by the way – you know who you are!) are on the early morning Twitter train.

2. Not only do you touch a greater number of people by timing your tweets, you can also help your network pals by timing re-tweets of their stuff. Most RTs happen within 5-45 minutes of the original tweet. Which means that the tweet is spread to a broader audience, but still one limited by that time slot. Simply time-delaying a RT to reach a different group 2 or 5 hours later is doing a wonderful favor to the author of the tweet, and the recipients who see the information.

3. Timing tweets allows you to avoid avatar overload. Some folks have a whole bunch of informational tweets lined up, and they hit the tweetstream all at once. Hate to break it to you, but that’s not a good way to get people to read your stuff. It’s like someone coming up to you at a party and overwhelming you with train-of-thought babbling. Space them out and people will be less inclined to tune you out. It’s just…more polite that way.

Now, I have to emphasize that you can’t time-delay live interaction. When I’m actively discussing or bantering or pretending to be a Tweet-up Comic, that’s all “live.” But I also feel that an important part of social networking is sharing information and resources. That’s where timed tweeting is a wonderful tool. And, if I might put in a plug here (disclosure: no fiduciary relationship; I just like them!), the folks at Hootsuite have developed a great tool to enable it. The “Hootlet” allows you to be on a page, click the toolbar button, and it presents you with a compact URL and (usually) the page title – making it very easy to compose a tweet on the fly, AND schedule it for later (or publish immediately).

So, “timed” tweets are not evil. In fact, they’re a great way to help everyone. Take advantage of them!

————-

Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog

Twitter: @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Seriously Impressed: HootSuite

I will be the first to admit that when it comes to software/services and user design, I’m very hard to please. Chalk it up to years of wrestling with software from all the way back in the early DOS days to the bleeding-edge present – AND from working with technology and software development firms.

hootsuiteSo when I say I’m seriously impressed with HootSuite (formerly known as Brightkit, which was an awful name) that’s no light recommendation.

I’ve struggled with Twitter productivity tools over the past year, trying to streamline, simplify, and maximize my use of Twitter as a resource-sharing platform and communication engine. TweetDeck, for me, solved the problem of managing the Twitterstream through a flexible (desktop) client interface – it’s a great tool, getting better by the month, and I loved it right after Iain Dodsworth put it out for launch.

But I also make use of timed tweets (to share resources across different time sectors – I do most of my information gathering and publishing early in the morning). And, I like the automation of using one-click toolbar tools to rapidly create a tweet on the fly. Plus, I enjoy auto-shrinking or URLs into trackable mini-links.

I have used TweetLater extensively for timed tweets but found its interface cluttered and difficult. BigTweet is a great toolbar app that lets you actually create 240-character tweets (if desired) and splits them into two tweets – nice. TwitPwr, bit.ly, all the other URL shrinkers and trackers – been there, done that (I do like how bit.ly allows you to create a custom-spelled URL instead of nonsense characters if desired).

Good-bye to all of those, for the most part. HootSuite wraps it all together, and even allows you to swap between different Twitter personas if you have more than one. When you’re on a blog post or article that you want to tweet, it even auto-suggests wording from the title, it auto-assigns a shrunken URL (owl.ly), AND – very neat – it gives you a countdown of available words minus the characters of the shrunken URL as you type. Wonderful time-saver.

If you’re a power tweeter, your life can get a whole lot easier with a TweetDeck/HootSuite double play. Mine just did!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 154 other followers