Twitter: Creating Social Media Clones

Genetic cloning montageFinally, the ability to be two places at once! For a while, Hootsuite users have loved the ability to schedule tweets and now the new Tweetdeck is taking it one step further by including scheduled tweets and Foursquare check-ins. Correct me if I’m wrong, but how can we check-in via Foursquare if we’re not physically there? How do we engage conversation without being around to respond? Tweetdeck has given us the opportunity to have a social media clone ensuring our presence is still in our community without physically doing the work.

Last week during the #u30pro chat, hosted by Lauren Fernandez, David Spinks, and Scott Hale, the group discussed pros/cons to scheduled tweets and many users chimed in. Here are some reasons members dislike the feature:

  • Lauren: Q3: I think scheduling tweets is defeating the purpose of social networks. #u30pro
  • Silver Vasquez: If you are scheduling tweets, you’re probably missing opportunities for engagement. #u30pro
  • Scott: Not very genuine. RT @CubanaLAF: Q3: I think scheduling tweets is defeating the purpose of social networks. #u30pro
  • Jeff Esposito: Agreed, loses authenticity RT @cubanalaf: Q3: I think scheduling tweets is defeating the purpose of social networks. #u30pro

Like any great chat, members openly disagreed and did a stellar job at explaining the benefits of using scheduled tweets. Here are some other key points:

  • David: @jeffespo @cubanalaf Disagree. Depends how you use social. If you want to be an effective content source, scheduling helps. #u30pro
  • Ellen Nordahl: I like to schedule links to interesting articles. I want to share but don’t want to share all at once.
  • Calvin Lee: @davidspinks: I share links 5 at a time and throw in some convo. #u30pro
  • David: Social doesn’t always mean talking. It’s also sharing. Rather than sharing 30 links at once, I space them out. Better sharing. #u30pro

After thinking about what David, Ellen, and Calvin shared, I started to re-think my whole stance. However I was still wondering whether or not this engaged the community. But then I thought, does it really matter?

People use Twitter for a variety of reasons. If sharing content is a major strategy in building your community than scheduled tweets is a godsend. But in addition to receiving great information, communities want to actively engage in conversation regarding what you shared. Sure, you’ll recieve alerts when people respond, but your response will be delayed whether it’s by minutes or hours. If it’s not, than why even schedule tweets when you can simply do it in real time?

I use Twitter to learn, engage, and build relationships. I share links sparingly as do most of the people I follow. If you tweet too many links, how do I know what’s truly interesting or important? It’s been said that the more selective one is with what he shares, the more inclined people are read what was shared. At the end of the day, regardless of scheduled or non-scheduled tweets, when we share a link it’s to spark an idea or conversation and we should be there to engage/discuss.

What do you think? Is it cheating by using scheduled tweets? If you schedule tweets, I’m interested to hear the opportunities / challenges you’ve faced, so please comment below!

(Note: Big thanks to #u30pro a great conversation last week. If you’re not checking in to this chat you are truly missing out. You can find more information about it here: http://davidspinks.com/under-30-professionals/ or join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/u30pro.)

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  • rajeevranjansingh

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  • Teresa

    I understand not wanting to schedule your tweets and wanting to engage. I get it. Not going to lie I find serious value in scheduling tweets to reach a larger audience. Not everyone is on twitter all the time. People come and go, check in when they can and only see bits of content. I want to be able to reach as many people as possible with content, thoughts, etc. As long as you are monitoring your mentions, I find no hard in scheduling tweets.

    One way to build a community is to feed the beast. What better way to do that than to put information out as much as possible.

    Great post!

  • jeffespo

    After engaging in the U30 conversation last week, I did not change my stance on the scheduled Tweet issue but have an understanding for its reasoning.

    In the case of David Spinks and guys like Khayyam Wakil, sharing great content is what they do. Instead of bombarding the stream with Tweets/links, they spread the love. It also frees up their time to focus on other tasks. I also plan on testing it one day to see what the results are.

    Even with that said, I still don't like it. The reason being is that it is cold and mechanical. Two things that to me, defeat some of the purpose of social media.

    Granted a large chunk of my time is devoted to social networks for business, but at the same time, why post something when you can't openly converse about it?

  • I don't think I would schedule tweets for my personal account, but for my corporate accounts, when I have 8 to 10 accounts that need to be constantly populated with content? Heck yeah I'm gonna schedule me some tweets. How else am I supposed to make sure everything gets covered?

  • seanathompson

    I don't see any real drawbacks to scheduling tweets, as long as you keep engaging, as Teresa says. If you read a fantastic article at 6:30 a.m., you may want to schedule the link for a time when more people are likely to see it.

    If you manage a twitter account for work, scheduling has major applications. You can stagger tweets, schedule for peak times and schedule for a weekday morning if inspiration strikes during unusual hours.

    I do get the desire to stay away from anything that seems robotic, but we aren't talking auto DMs. And it's not as if most people always sit by their computer or watch their phone like a hawk after tweeting in real time in case there is a need to engage, so the lag time in engaging after a scheduled tweet shouldn't be substantially greater.

    Excellent post!

  • Interesting take on the scheduling Tweets debate. I firmly think that scheduling Tweets is perfectly acceptable, within reason. If your account is mostly scheduled, or automated tweeting (twitterfeed), than yes, it becomes a bit much and you lose opportunities for engagement.

    That said, I think that scheduling gives you the opportunity to share quality content and push signal (your most recent blog post, for example), without having to sit by your twitter app all day. You'll still be there to engage and respond when time allows, but in the meantime, there's no harm in a little automation. If you can incorporate smart automation on your social accounts, you become more productive, and I've found, more opportunities for engagement arise.

  • Thanks for sharing some of the #u30pro conversation!

    In response to Jeff's criticism of sharing links without being there to discuss it:

    True, you should be there to discuss the things you share, but I have a few points:

    1) Of all the links you share on twitter, how many turn into an actual conversation? For me, it's a very low percentage.

    2) Just because you schedule doesn't mean you don't respond to people. I schedule tweets because it makes it easy for me to organize, and space out the content I share. I also regularly check my replies feed throughout the day so even if I don't remember when I scheduled a tweet, I will see the replies and I will respond.

    3) People can respond to your tweets at any time. I get responses to tweets I posted days ago sometimes. It's not always possible to be present and ready to discuss the content that you share online.

    David, Scribnia

  • I don't consider it cheating to schedule some tweets. We write a lot of great blog posts and it helps to schedule them out evenly throughout the day. I spend an hour a week scheduling tweets and the rest of my time re-tweeting other content and having conversations.

  • jeffespo

    David,
    I see your points and we discussed in the chat, may have come off worse than I meant (if so, sorry) It was more of a sharing in the here and now. While you converse to things the same can't be said for everyone that does.
    Jeff

  • Didn't come off bad at all man. You're absolutely entitled to your opinion.

    …and you're right, like anything else, this is a case by case basis. Some things work for one person and not for another.

  • jeffespo

    You know after the talk the other night I wrote down to try it out. I will be the first to say when I am wrong and figured since there were about five of us in the thread I owed it to trying out the other side.

  • Count me in the group that is not a fan of scheduled tweets. You could still say you are contributing to the conversation, but I don't think it shows you really WANT to be be part of it.
    I put scheduled tweets in the same category as auto DM's and auto follows. I would rather take the time to read a blog, news item, or tweet and then send it back out with a quick comment.
    Bottom line here… be you. Don't automate.

  • I personally think scheduled tweets are okay as long as there aren't too many (basically don't spam me), they aren't repeats of already posted tweets (this is spam too) and they don't replace actually getting on and engaging the community. I like time to read articles people link to, but if they send them all out during the five minutes they're logged in, it's just too much to keep up with and gets lost with the other tweets–and they're not really engaging anyway. However, I don't expect them to spend all day on Twitter to spare me information overload or to respond to me on my schedule. If they want to share a lot of info, I would rather they were scheduled at a nice spacing and that they dedicated time to talking with followers when they actually have time. Sharing content and engaging don't have to occur at the same time of day, but both need to happen regularly.

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  • Nice thread. Scheduling tweets is great if you're in one time zone and trying to reach folks in another and don't want to be awake and tweeting 18 hrs a day. For a corporate account I run, I schedule stuff in Spanish for peak hours in Latin America, stuff that'll be of interest for the US during peak hours there, and live tweet stuff I think will be more interesting to our stakeholders in Europe (where I'm based.) Yes you miss out on the chance to engage in 100% real time, but if you make sure to check back in, monitor carefully, and reply on a “better late than never” basis, it can work. The scheduled tweets provide a backbeat that I improvise in between. This all for an account that clearly (apparent to our followers I think) falls on the less conversational side of the spectrum.