November 19, 2008
Twitter is a great platform for sharing. But there is a bit of a problem – you can only be on it so much, usually in certain time slots – how can you share resources and links at other times, for audiences that “tune in” during other time slots?
Answer: Twitter XR. Or, in other words, time-delayed tweeting.
There are two tools that I use for this, each with strengths and weaknesses. Tweetlater is the incumbent, Twuffer is the newcomer. With both of these tools, you compose your tweet, choose a downstream time for it to appear, and forget about it. The tweet shows up in the Twitterstream later, maybe when you’re not even on-line or awake.
I tend to compose my Tweets in TweetDeck (my favorite desktop client) because it has integrated URL-shortening – then I cut/paste the tweet into Tweetlater or Twuffer. Because my best time for writing, finding resources, and composing tweets is early morning, I tend to blog, scan RSS, and load up tweets between 5:30-7:30 am to show up during the rest of the day.
Here is a very brief rundown of each tool.
Twuffer (Twitter buffer) has a more limited set of capabilities, and a very straightforward interface design. The learning curve should be nearly non-existent for most people. It also allows you to store a tweet beginning with the @ sign, a function not supported by Tweetlater. On the downside, it only allows tweet scheduling for “on-the-hour”, and once you’ve queued a tweet, you cannot edit. Both of these are serious weaknesses. If the tool can be beefed up slightly while maintaining its simple interface, it’ll be a winner.
TweetLater is a far more robust setup, allowing you to schedule tweets by the hour/minute, but also giving you the capability of setting up an auto-DM reply for new Twitter followers, and an auto-follow if you wish. TweetLater does not support timed @ replies out of a fear of spam abuse by the tool. The tool also now provides you with e-mail alerts about your user name, and key words, showing up in Twitter. You can support multiple Twitter accounts. It’s a strong feature set, but the major downside is the clunky interface design. Some improvement has occurred in the last couple of weeks, but the layout and navigation are still non-intuitive and confusing.
For tweet-scheduling, I would abandon both of these tools in a millisecond if TweetDeck supported a timed tweet feature (Iain -are you listening?) – how much simpler to have the option, composing in TweetDeck, of sending a tweet now, or choosing a later publish time! But for now, I’ll continue to use both tools, because they fulfill a genuine communication need – sharing resources at varying times in the day (in fact, if you came to this post via Twitter, it’s because it was pre-scheduled for today, while I’m away in Chicagoland!)