Just because the social media autopilot options are out there doesn’t mean you need to use them, let alone abuse them.
The whole point of social media is real-time communication and interaction. Conversations change within hours. Hot topics one minute could be taboo the next. That doesn’t mean you can’t schedule a tweet or Facebook update to go out hours later. The key to using autopilot effectively is to analyze the situation in which you are putting your posts / updates / messages on autopilot and put yourself into the message receiver’s shoes. Does your autopilot update appear to be spam-like? Is your update completely irrelevant to the conversation? Appearing as a spammer or as someone who adds his or her irrelevant two cents to a conversation that is focused on something completely different, could stamp a scarlet letter on your brand image. A reputation blunder you don’t want to experience.
In order to keep your pristine image intact and avoid a PR nightmare, it’s essential to understand when it’s appropriate to autopilot your social media efforts and when it is not.
When you should autopilot your social media efforts and why:
**NOTE: Obviously you don’t have to autopilot any of your efforts, but you may find that you can save a little time doing so.
Tweets that you wish to schedule 2 – 4 hours in advance. Whether you have a meeting, want to take a lunch break, or have to pick the kids up from school, we all have times where we’re away from our computers for several hours. So, scheduling a tweet to go out a few hours in advance is fine.
As I mentioned above, topics change extremely fast on social media, and you don’t want to be tweeting about something that was a hot topic a week ago—this shows that you are not interested in listening to the current conversation and are simply posting to post. People use Twitter to talk about hot topics, news, and areas of interest. They’re on Twitter to find other valuable tidbits and to share their own. Scheduling a tweet days in advance isn’t going to resonate with individuals who have moved on to a completely new area of conversation—if anything, it will frustrate them.
Blog posts that you want to schedule 1 – 2 weeks in advance. Because blogs aren’t as real-time oriented as other social media platforms and also require quite a bit of time from you, scheduling further in advance is acceptable. We recommend scheduling posts at least one week in advance to ensure you never come across a day where you’re post-less!
Sharing blog posts on Facebook by setting up an automatic feed for your blog posts using Networked Blogs. This way, whenever you post a blog, you don’t have to sign into your Facebook page and post the link, saving you time and effort—it will automatically be added to your page. When people see a topic that interests them, they’ll click on the link and be directed to the post on your blog.
When you should NOT autopilot your social media efforts and why:
During scheduled Twitter meet-ups / discussions: If you don’t know what a Twitter meet-up is, it’s basically a planned discussion session that occurs at a certain time at a specific time of the month or week around a topic (some of the most popular Twitter discussion groups are related to travel, social media marketing, etc.). The founders / leaders of the Twitter discussion group will also assign a designated hash tag to the discussion so that each time a Twitter user wants to partake in the discussion, he or she can attach the hash tag to their tweet.
This hash tag allows Twitter users to view only the tweets on the discussion topic in one window as opposed to sifting through all other tweets that don’t relate to the discussion session.
When you schedule tweets in advance to go out during the time of the discussion, you’re completely missing the point of these discussions. And what happens when the meet-up focuses on a particular subject that your tweets have nothing to do with? Real-time conversations are always changing. Scheduled tweets cannot accommodate or forecast these changes. You must be present and speaking in real-time to ensure proper engagement and to be a vital part of the discussion. You’ll anger meet-up participants if your tweets have absolutely nothing to do with the conversation.
For Twitter messages: Sending a generic message to new Twitter followers isn’t the same thing as sending a generic “Thank-you” email to new newsletter subscribers. The social nature of Twitter is completely different from that of email.
Generic Twitter messages are not conversational at all, and isn’t that the entire nature of Twitter? Also, sometimes I’ll get a random message from an individual that says, “Want to learn how your business can succeed? Download my free guide on Business Success Tips.” The only action I would take from this is to delete the mass marketing message from my email inbox. And forget downloading it. I’d also consider removing this person from my following list if the messages continue coming.
The entire purpose of Twitter is to be personable and develop conversations that are two ways and benefit both you and the individuals in the discussion. Sending a generic message on Twitter is not personable and only appears as a marketing scheme or impersonal greeting.
Facebook and Twitter feed: Due to Twitter and Facebook’s unwritten etiquette guidelines, linking your Twitter account to your Facebook profile is not always the best action to take when attempting to build exposure and influential relationships. When you link your Twitter and Facebook profiles together, your Facebook page will stream in constant updates from Twitter (as many as 10 – 20 tweets per day, depending on how often you tweet). Because Facebook is not designed to have a constant flow of real-time updates the same way as Twitter, this could deter people from reading your company page. If Facebook users want to view a streamline of updates from your business, they would follow you on Twitter.
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Michelle Salater is an award-winning writer and president of Sumèr, LLC, a company which specializes in web copy writing, SEO copywriting, and the promotion and marketing of websites after they launch. As an avid business blogger, Michelle has grown her marketing blog, Copy Doodle, to be a powerful lead generation and client education tool, and frequently guest blogs and lectures on blogging. In 2009, Michelle won the Charleston Business Journal’s Forty under 40 award for her business and community leadership.