A conversation last week with Linda from Daley Progress got me to thinking about scheduling social media for business. In a nutshell we were talking about not over-using the scheduling features available to us and I used the phrase “responsible scheduling”. Is it just me, or do you read that title in the Queen’s voice? (If you’re Canadian, you’ve likely seen the Canadian Heritage commercial about “responsible government“.)
I am pretty open about the fact that I use Hootsuite and other programs to schedule some of my posts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I don’t think it’s wrong to schedule SOME of your business’s social media, but it has to be done responsibly.
What You Might Consider Scheduling
I know some social media experts still vehemently oppose any kind of scheduling, duplication, cross posting or automation. They cling to the belief that one must be present at any time a post is made, therefore if you can’t be there to post, it shouldn’t be posted. I think scheduled posting is a necessity to help you organize your campaigns, spread out your posting and ultimately keep your followers and fans more engaged.
There is no question, scheduling can save you time. If you’ve got a weekly or daily announcement to be made, why NOT set it up in advance and save yourself the trouble of having to be on Twitter right at 11 am that day to post it? What if you get called into a meeting? Or have a real, live customer to attend to at 11:00 am? I think it’s ok to schedule certain types of things that you need to get out on a regular basis.
Another great use for scheduling is to help promote an upcoming event. You want to put the event info out there at all different times of the day, on a variety of days, without overwhelming your followers. Using a calendar and your scheduler together (or the pro version of Hootsuite you can quickly and easily plan out and schedule your promotional tweets in advance. I do this so I don’t have to remember when I last tweeted to check out my blog, an event, or vote for something.
These are things that I am going to tweet anyway, but now the “mundane” tasks are off my mind and I can concentrate on conversations and building relationships when I’m on any given network.
What You Should NOT Do
Yes, there is a big “but” in here. You cannot rely 100% on scheduling! You must spend personal time on each network getting to know the people, having conversations, building relationships. Simply scheduling tweets does not create relationships on Twitter. Unless you are the Halifax Noon Gun (check it out, it’s funny), people will expect more of you. They will see that you’re never there, never having conversations, never replying and they will stop following you. Only using scheduled posts is effectively telling your followers “I’d like to sell to you, but not enough to ask you what you’d like to buy.”
And if you cannot be present on a network more than once a week to do the above, you should not be using scheduling to fill the gap. Your followers won’t accept a reply seven days later.
Scheduling vs. Automation
I hold scheduling and automation in two very different camps. With a scheduler you are choosing what to post, a time for each post, and which network(s) to send it to. You are still making all the choices.
By automation I’m referring to using programs to auto-tweet something someone else says every time they tweet, or sending automated “Thank you for following me” messages on Twitter. Or even worse, sending an auto-tweet to someone that uses a specific word or hashtag in Twitter (this is mainly used by spammers, so if you’re doing this STOP now!)
I am not a fan of using social media automation tools in business because it’s too easy to tweet something you shouldn’t have and they are often confusing for your reader because of improper crediting (who actually wrote that piece on paper.li?) And quite honestly, they are well abused already.
If you need to find efficiencies in your social media efforts learn how to use responsible scheduling and spend your time on the platforms actually engaging in networking, conversations, tweet chats and memes. To further make your efforts more efficient, create a social media strategy for your business and set a timer when you’re going on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest–when it goes off, so must you.
Do you schedule or automate? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.