Here’s why automated tweets suck

25 May

I know some very bright business people who do this. Some social media megawatts too. Because they’re busy.

For the uninitiated, auto-tweeting is scheduling in advance when you want your little bon-mots and nuggets to appear in the Twitter timeline.

I don’t like it and here’s why:

Scheduled tweets generally appear when you’re nowhere near your computer. That’s the idea. You can be off at the spa or in a boardroom or examining the insides of your eyelids with your mouth open, and your tweets magically appear. Your followers rabidly devour the content and then retweet or reply to you.

But you’re not there are you. You’re there in content only. So the replies to you hang helplessly in the timeline until you’re back online and can respond.

This isn’t very social. It’s like getting someone’s voice mail.

“I’m sorry I can’t take your Tweet right now. I’ll get back to you just as soon as I can. Thanks for trying to connect with me.” Very robotic of you.

Businesses: you’re either there or you’re not. If you’re not looking to converse with people, you’re just using Twitter as another channel to hock your stuff at them.

With this written, I just asked Amber Naslund, Jay Baer’s bud, what she thought of auto-tweeting and here was her tweet back.

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9 Responses to “Here’s why automated tweets suck”

  1. Dennis van Lith May 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    So what’s the point of this? To be first in the twit-que when people first log on in the morning, if your doing it overnight while you expect people to be sleeping? Because that could be useful, if you get stuck somewhere in the middle people might just skip over your 140 characters of awesomeness.

  2. dougbrowncreative May 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    I guess the point is that followers are not geographically based and someone might be wide awake in New York State when you’re sawing logs in BC. So you auto-tweet to be awake when they are. Interesting idea about being first in the Twit-queue…like arriving at the hotel pool at 6 am and putting your towel down to make sure you have a lounge chair at 9. Cheers Dennis!

  3. tom hammarberg May 25, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    I’d say the only time to avoid automated tweets is when you’ve previously set up the expectation that your twitter profile is for customer service or live communication.

    For the most tweets I don’t see automated, or time-delayed tweets being problematic at all. For a start nearly all the tweets I see are for self-promotion or broadcast only. ‘I just helped someone/ deal of the day /special offer/I checked in’ . None of these are really inviting twitter discourse and are best handled by other channels of communication.
    I just helped someone = call or email and I’ll sell you a service
    deal of the day = call or visit the store
    checked in = drop by and say hi to me at the STD clinic

    The copeland blog fires off a single autotweet after each blog entry is posted as any discourse happens in the comments section in which participants don’t expect instant replies. I personally schedule autotweets for my UK followers to see during their working day. If they respond, I pick up their responses when I log in.

    I’d almost go so far to say that responding very quickly sets a precedent that can only really be supported when you don’t have too many followers. As your stream gets busier and busier you’re going to appear disinterested if you don’t respond to everyone instantly.

    There you go… why autotweets rule!

  4. dougbrowncreative May 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    That’s a good comment Tom – you should write a blog post! I can see where dealing with people in different time zones makes sense of autotweets. But I will hold fast to my belief that faster response is better and more than that, it’s advantageous.

    I think I’m reading by your “best handled by other channels” comment that tweets not inviting discourse are not ideal for Twitter anyway, given that Twitter is best used in a social sense. So we’re kind of on the same page there about autotweets sucking. 🙂

  5. tom hammarberg May 26, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    not quite Doug,
    Twitter has evolved dramatically from its inception 4 years ago and if you believe, as I do, that services/language/products evolve through usage then tweets not inviting discourse (which are the norm) are what Twitter is about now and are as ‘ideal’ as any other usage. So I’m sticking with the counter argument that autotweets rule!

  6. dougbrowncreative May 26, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Perhaps it’s just semantics Tom, but I think most tweets in some way invite discourse. Other than the pontificating leadership quotes and the appeals for becoming a Facebook fan. It would be an interesting experiment to see, using all human reason, what percentage within an hour could logically be seen as inviting or not (as in not being interested in conversation around the tweet). Maybe we would find ourselves working towards a compromise position Tom. Autotweets rule at certain times, but suck if that’s all you do? Could you live with that?

  7. Laura Barnes (seriousbean) May 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    Okay, I’m Joe Smuck. Well, that may not be my name, but that is who I am here on Twitter.

    I use scheduled tweets, mainly because it just does not make sense to post something at 3 am when many people are waking up between 7 and 9 am to head off to work. Or, I might want to schedule a tweet about something that is not going to happen until the following day and I don’t want to post it 3 weeks ahead when I think about it.

    I also use a scheduler when I want to retweet something I have found of interest. That way, if someone missed the initial tweet, they may see it in their stream and find the same value I did upon initial read.

    I read scheduled tweets.

  8. dougbrowncreative May 26, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Thanks for furthering the discussion Laura. All going points. Glad you are making the schedulizer work for you. How do you know though if tweets you are reading are scheduled though?

  9. tom hammarberg May 27, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    got a blog post lined up for Monday with more on this. Including your suggestion on discourse tweets/ per hour Doug. Check back here

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