With the growing popularity of Buffer and the introduction of HootSuite’s AutoSchedule feature, there has been a lot of brouhaha on the Internet lately about whether you should preschedule tweets.
One egregious example cited by Unmarketing guru Scott Stratten happened when Live Nation Ontario, who organized a Radiohead show in Ontario, Canada, failed to cancel a prescheduled tweet that read, “Help us create a Radiohead photo album from the show! Share your Instagram photos of the show tonight with the hashtag #RadioheadTO.” This tweet went out to @LiveNationON’s 15,000+ followers after the show had been canceled due to a collapsed stage that killed one person and injured three others. Followers appropriately responded with outrage.
More recently, author @KristenLambTX, who started the hashtag #MyWANA, announced that she planned to block and report all automated tweets using the #MyWANA hashtag. The reason? She feels that the #MyWANA conversation has become littered with spam created by bots. By "spam," she means all links, not just ads for Viagara, and by "bots" she means people like you and me who preschedule tweets, not just robots.
This got me thinking: Is it wrong to preschedule tweets? When is it okay to preschedule tweets? Here are my thoughts:
Twitter is a giant chat room. You wouldn’t go into a chat room, write one line and then log off, would you? You wouldn’t chat someone through Facebook or iChat or GChat and then log off, would you? Of course not. That would be rude. If your goal on Twitter is to have a conversation (and it should be, most of the time), then you shouldn’t preschedule tweets. Because when people respond, you won’t be there to continue the conversation. On the other hand, if your goal is to broadcast information (which it can be, some of the time), you don’t necessarily have to be online. My own Twitter use consists of about 75% live tweets and 25% prescheduled tweets.
Why do I preschedule tweets at all? I have two small children, so I can’t be online all the time. I log on every couple of days, catch up on my blog and article reading, and then tweet out my favorites, which frequently consist of more than ten links. By the fifth or sixth, I worry that A) I’m annoying people and B) Only a small percentage of my followers are going to see all the wonderful articles I have to share because, well, it’s 2 a.m. So I preschedule a few for the following day.
Harmless enough, right? Not in the eyes of Twitter purists who believe that prescheduling tweets is akin to rolling up your mattress so it looks like you’re in bed when really you’ve snuck out the bedroom window to meet your friend Joey at the cemetery to drink wine coolers.
Prescheduling tweets, like prayer, like vegetarianism, like your political party affiliation, is a personal choice. Be aware of the pros and cons of each side. Then preschedule responsibly, taking care to cancel prescheduled tweets that are no longer appropriate and to avoid excessive prescheduling. Like all good things, prescheduled tweeting should be practiced in moderation.
What are your thoughts on prescheduled tweets? Are you for or against? Why?