Let’s start off with a confession before I start the diatribe. I LOVE scheduled posts on social media. I use them ALL OF THE TIME. From blog posts to Facebook posts to Twitter posts, my only desire is to find ways to schedule my Instragram photos. (Put suggestions in the comments!)
With that out of the way, I’m going to admit that I know I’m playing with fire. Take this example from Unmarketing as an example of how things can go sideways:
There was a RadioHead concert scheduled tonight in Toronto at Downsview Park. Tragedy struck, and some of the staging collapsed before the show, where at least one person died and many more injured.
LiveNation, the promoter for the event also tweeted that the show has been cancelled, so people would not head to the venue.
The problem being a half-hour later they sent another tweet, this one obviously pre-scheduled to get people to tweet about the show!
I’m so terrified of pushing something inappropriate that I put a task in my emergency communications plan to check and turn off all scheduled social media posts as soon as possible. That said, they can be so helpful, and this post from Fast Company last week let me feel better about my choice:
[After six months of not scheduling tweets, I found] my new followers’ growth curve came to a halt, the amount of valuable content I shared dropped dramatically, and thus so did the number of retweets of my material. Granted, my realtime engagement level in creating relationships with current followers remained about the same. In the months I used the automated tweet rotation, my twitter following more than doubled organically, whereas in the last six months, the engagement approach alone only saw an uptake of approximately ten percent. It seems that by not having the “meaty” content continually being shared, growth stalled.
My conclusion is that automation used in the wrong places, in the wrong way, will kill your online potential and your brand reputation, but done properly, it can be hugely valuable to grow your followers and to contribute value.
The author, Allison Graham, notes that there is one important thing to consider when thinking about adding scheduled tweets to your repertoire. Content does not equal connection. Since social media is (or should be) all about interaction, just posting stuff and ignoring the conversation that grows around it is worse than not posting at all. Scheduling posts allows you to seed conversations throughout the day and week without having to be present to research and write those seeds at that minute. But be sure to encourage and participate in those conversations!
If you’re interested in learning more about scheduling posts, I use Hootsuite for specific timing of Twitter posts (after figuring out the best time to post from Crowdbooster), Buffer to sprinkle stuff throughout the day without caring when it’ll post, and Facebook’s new post scheduling tool for my personal feed and the Pages I manage. If you’d like more information on scheduling, please don’t hesitate to touch base with me!