Tweeting on Schedule
I’ve been playing around a bit with scheduling my Tweets and thought that I’d share some of my findings with you. But first, I’ll riff a bit on the fragility of this nascent channel and Twitter’s amazing rise to prominence as the 3rd largest social network in this universe. The figure I’m using for scale is 145 million registered users, which came straight from the Twitter CEO, Evan Williams back in November, 2010. But, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if another 55 million users joined in the past 5 months. That’s the number that’s being bandied about today.
With ad revenues estimated at $45 million and projections escalating at a 3x clip this year, Twitter is rocketing unequivocally skyward. The only problem with attaining massive growth with user populations rivaling the number of people residing in Brazil, is that Tweets are extremely perishable. If you aren’t watching, listening or searching for a Tweet, it’s highly likely that it will slip right past an entire country of users without ever being noticed. That’s a problem. It’s bad because it seriously erodes any value proposition of time or dollars invested in the channel. Thus, the argument for scheduling Tweets.
The best research I’m reading about Twitter is coming from Sysmos, where they continue to crank out valuable insights. Back in September, 2010, they found that the average lifespan of a Tweet is about an hour. Sysomos discovered that 92.4% of Retweets happen within one hour after publication and 96.9% of @replies occur within the first hour. This means if your Tweet isn’t circulated after 60 minutes, it’s likely a goner. Of course there are numerous tools that allow you to automate this process. And that’s what I’ve been exploring. Even the most pedestrian Twitter clients now allow you to schedule your 140 character missives for posting at a later time.
What are the drawbacks of scheduling Tweets?
Scheduling Tweets is a tenuous business. For the most part, you should be Tweeting to deliver good content, but also to initiate a dialogue with your followers. If you’re out on the golf course and your Tweets are generating a firestorm of activity, who’s going to respond? Be cognizant of this fact when scheduling Tweets, because if your Tweet gains velocity and lots of people hear it, you better be at the ready to engage. If not, you’ll quickly lose credence as a friendly human and instead come off looking like a bit of a bot yourself. For this reason alone, if you’re planning to schedule Tweets, do so with considered caution and release news or informative Tweets purely to gain exposure. You don’t want to provoke a dialogue when you’re not ready to interact.
Who offers Tweet scheduling?
This isn’t meant to be a full and comprehensive review of Tweet scheduling tools. These are just a few that I’ve used personally, and my observations of each. I look forward to hearing what you think about Tweet scheduling and which tools if any you use. I’ll commit to updating my list as you offer more…
Tweetdeck – Ahh…my first real Twitter client and a darn good one at that. It’s iconic black interface offers de facto functionality and does so with a fine polish. (I’ve tried to use the “light” interface but just can’t make the switch). Tweetdeck is lightning fast with Tweets posted in real-time. But more to the point, they allow users to schedule Tweets in the future by simply selecting the date and time of your desired launch.
Hootsuite – This little freemium gem is quickly becoming my go-to Twitter client. Despite their recent service outage (which wasn’t really their fault), It’s winning me over with the multi-tabbed interface, multi-user efficiency and slick stream views. Hootsuite allows users to pre-schedule Tweets as well, with the option to select the date and time and receive an email when your 140 character missive flies.
Crowdbooster – I gained access to this product only recently and have been intrigued since my first login. This beauty not only allows you to schedule Tweets, but also recommends the best times to give a shout out. I really like that they deliver an explanation of why specific times are best for Tweeting based on when my followers are active and when I’ve gained the greatest reach. Crowdbooster also has the best charting I’ve seen yet from a Tweet scheduling interface that reveals which Tweets attained reach…and RT’s and @replies as well. I’m having fun with this freemium tool and may even upgrade.
Timely.is – Here’s an interesting new app, that I learned about recently. It uses an algorithm to Tweet when your message is likely to reach the largest audience. Currently, they don’t provide any visibility into how they make this determination, but you can override it by forcing the Tweet to send within the next 30minutes. While they do offer a few cheesy “suggested” tweets, this tool is a product of Flowtown and I’ve been waiting to see what these guys bring out of their private beta. This is definitely one to watch.
Buffer – Buffer offers a slick user interface allowing users to schedule Tweets across a number of recommended times. It has links to the Bit.ly API, but requires premium access to utilize this function. Yet, the free version delivers solid capabilities and collaboration functions for adding additional team members. Perhaps the easiest function is the Chome browser extension that enables you to schedule a Tweet directly from a webpage. This makes scheduling convenient and will be helpful in getting to word out on those juicy bits you discover during non-peak times.
LaterBro – Yo, bro…I haven’t actually tried this one yet, but its interface is simple and clean. I trust it works just fine for planning ahead.
Since drafting this blog post has taken beyond my optimal Tweeting window, I’m signing off now. But before I do, here’s a few more Tweet schedulers that I haven’t tried yet. I’m sure there’s a whole lot more too.
What do you use for scheduling Tweets and what do you like about it? Curious minds want to know.