The internet is the great equalizer for small business marketing, especially with the advent of social media sites where you can reach millions of users. The problem is, it’s easy to get distracted on those sites and waste hours instead of moving on to other tasks.
Enter Twitter scheduling and social media automation, which have a lot of strong supporters─and strong opposition.
Both the support and the opposition have plenty of good reasons, but first, let’s define the difference between scheduling and automation.
Twitter Scheduling vs. Automation
Scheduling is planning and composing tweets ahead of time and using an app or platform to publish them for you. Planning isn’t bad in itself unless you take it to extremes by never engaging with your audience live and adopting a “set it and forget it” attitude.
Think of scheduling social media updates like your elevator speech.You’ve carefully planned what to say, when to say it and to whom, but your practiced pitch is only a small part of a larger, spur-of-the-moment conversation.
Automation is allowing an app or platform to do anything you should be doing yourself to build a following and engage with your audience, such as
- following and unfollowing other users
- scouring the web and tweeting links to content based only on keywords
- writing and publishing tweets on its own
Most marketers agree that Twitter automation is generally bad. In some ways Twitter is like a live networking event, and you can’t automate every part of that kind of experience.
Plus, letting an app publish tweets and links to content that you haven’t written or read puts your business reputation on the line. As social media marketer David Masters says in this article:
“Automation is essentially sophisticated spam.”
Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s look at the pros and cons of Twitter scheduling.
Saves you time: You can build your presence and audience while completing other important priorities.
Keeps your Twitter profile fresh: Regular tweeting helps you gain followers and prevent unfollows. And your profile and tweets are more likely to show up in search because they’re fresh.
Makes your presence consistently active: Regular tweets are a major indicator that a user is worth following, and you gain the most benefits from social media marketing through consistency. Scheduling helps you be consistent even when you’re busy with other tasks.
Allows increased exposure: Depending on the best time to tweet for your business (or when your target audience is most active), Twitter scheduling allows you to tweet during those peak times for maximum exposure, even if you’re sleeping.
Increases engagement: Although you can’t have a live conversation with scheduled tweets, they can up engagement with replies and retweets. The more you tweet, the more replies and retweets you can get.
Spreads out your tweets: This benefit is two-fold. One the one hand, you don’t overflow your followers’ feeds with lots of back-to-back real-time updates, which they will appreciate. On the other, you can space out your links to great content you’ve discovered and maintain consistent exposure throughout the day.
Downsides of Twitter Scheduling
Feels less genuine: It’s easy for scheduled tweets to feel inauthentic and fake. To achieve all the possible benefits of scheduling, make sure your tweets offer tons of value and plan carefully. Avoid only tweeting marketing messages.
Can conflict with current events: If everyone else is tweeting about a natural disaster and your scheduled tweets talk about your products, it creates a major disconnect that can be insensitive and even offensive. To avoid putting your foot in your mouth, keep a close tab on events and change your scheduled tweets when necessary.
Promotes laziness: While writing tweets takes some time, scheduling and publishing them through apps and tools can tempt you to simply “set it and forget it”. This laziness does not attract followers, encourage real engagement, or build a loyal audience.
Is Twitter Scheduling Right for Your Business?
Ultimately, only you can decide if you think scheduling your tweets is ethical and appropriate for your business. As a general rule, though, the smaller your business, the more you can benefit from a mix of scheduled and live tweets.
Have you used Twitter scheduling before? What’s holding you back if not? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!