• Meghan Ward
  • [NETWORKING FOR INTROVERTS] Should You Preschedule Tweets?
[NETWORKING FOR INTROVERTS] Should You Preschedule Tweets?
Written by
Meghan Ward
August 2012
Written by
Meghan Ward
August 2012

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?

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  • Meghan Ward

    I agree with you, Latanya. A healthy balance is the way to go with prescheduled tweets.

  • latanya west

    Such a great topic!  I think the issue isn't whether one "should" or "shouldn't" preschedule tweets, it's what works best for you.  Assuming you're not blasting away with prescheduled tweets that annoy and scream "buy my stuff, please," I think people should use Twitter in whatever way that helps them meet their goals.  I did social media campaigns for a singer-songwriter and prescheduled tweets were the name of the game when announcing his touring schedule or to promote an upcoming release, but he also did his own "real time" tweets with fans.  A healthy balance worked for him.  I'm with Kathleen and Colette on this one!

  • Evalyn Lee

    Bless you for this and thanks for taking us through this minefield.

  • RYCJ Revising


    I think I'm still scarred from the first time I tried hanging around on twitter. I was supposed to be doing an interview but ended up in three or four other chats. Talk about lost! So, thanks for this. 

  • Donna Ashby Moore

    Being technology-challenged, I found your advice valuable.



  • Meghan Ward

    Thank you for all of your thoughtful comments. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer when it comes to prescheduling tweets, and after the vehement articles I've been reading AGAINST prescheduled tweets, I find it refreshing that so many of you are in favor of them. Pretweet on!

  • Elena Losasso Dillon

    I agree Kathleen. I have been thinking about it and with Twitter being worldwide it is impossible to keep up and be on all the time.  I don't think most people on Twitter expect that. I think it is important to respond when you can and be respectful but I don't think everyone expects an immediate response.  No one likes to be inundated with tweets and we are supposed to be promoting each other.  I like putting informative tweets out there all day. It seems less invasive. 

  • Twitter both encourages conversation and shares information, so I really think that prescheduling tweets that are for information-sharing is fine as long as the sender stays on top of that schedule and doesn't inundate others. People that are annoyed at prescheduled tweets need to remember that, a. we can't all be online all the time and, b. we can't all be online at the same time. There needs to be flexibility and respect in any form of communication.

  • Joanne Tombrakos

    I agree with Colette's comment. I preschedule as well as live tweet. The key is to planning it and keeping track of what you are doing.

  • Jobi Harris

    I don't preschedule tweets because I am not that organized. I like to think that when I do get more organized. When I get to the point where it becomes something to think about, I will remember you blog. Thanks!

  • Colette Martin

    Thanks for the post, but I disagree. I think the advantage of these communication channels is that they can be asynchronous. Yes, it's a conversation, but unlike an in-person conversation, the other person doesn't have to be sitting at the other end of their computer or mobile device. That's what makes these technologies so great!

  • Zoe Brooks

    I am in the UK which makes publicizing my book's free days on Kindle a problem as I am up to 8 hrs ahead of the US, so I use prescheduled tweets for the times when I'm in bed. The tweets are mainly for the free ebook retweeting organizers. The trouble is they don't retweet direct messages so all my followers get them. What I do is send a direct message to my followers and apologize in advance.

  • Elena Losasso Dillon

    I have to say I do preschedule but mostly other people's informative stuff.  For my own I try to be live and even for prescheduled stuff I always try to engage by iphone.  I do need to go offline to write or nothing will get done.  I don't like the idea of prescheduling when promoting my own blog. I don't like to bug people constantly with tweets all at once so I thought it would be better to schedule it out.  Hmmm I guess I am not a purist then.  I love to engage and have conversations however.  Maybe I should rethink...

  • Timely topic! 

    The examples of complications point to the need to think twice about prescheduling Tweets.

    The appearance of multiple prescheduled tweets in a row is not appealing to me. Prefer to respond to tweets that are not prescheduled.

  • Carol Hedges

    I've just started Tweeting @carolJhedges, (2 weeks in) and I am not a fan of pre-schedued tweeting, as I like the ebb and flow of a chat. I appreciate, however, that for some, busy mums etc it may be a resource, but I think it defeats the immediacy of Twitter. Also I hate the 8 Tweets promoting my book/5star reviews/ etc. If you can't be bothered to chat to me, even minimally, I'm not going to read your blog,review/book. Sorry. I'd take the pre-stuff even further, 85% live 15% pre-scheduled. And I am happy to 'unfollow' anyone who just throws advertising at me. Hopefully, not you!! x Build a relationship, jump into conversations with nice things to say, and people will follow you. THEN they will look at your stuff, chat back.

  • Faith Freewoman

    Brilliant idea! I will read this slavishly, since this is the only part of the writing/publishing process that I truly deeply dread.

    Cheers, Faith