Anyone even moderately engaged in social media for business has read countless articles best practices. You have probably noticed that social media experts (of either the true or the self-proclaimed variety) often disagree on these points. I keep a running list of “rules” I follow, and adjust them if needed when I come across a better idea. That being said, my two biggest rules are stay calm and be flexible.
There are a few topics about which I feel very strongly, and one is scheduling tweets. I’ve seen passionate arguments for and against scheduling, and I believe there is a case to be made for both. Following are my personal guidelines for scheduling.
- Use a scheduling app for spacing out tweets and keeping up with things you want to remember. Sometimes, you find two or three excellent articles all at once but don’t want to spam your followers with multiple tweets within seconds. Scheduling allows you to space them out so you won’t forget to publish them later. I find this most useful when I need to focus on a project and don’t want to be distracted with the constant need to find more content.
- Do not add Facebook to your scheduled posts. This could be an article on its own, but suffice it to say that what’s good for Twitter is rarely good for Facebook. This includes frequency of posts, grammar usage, and links vs. photos.
- Monitor trends throughout the day. While scheduled posts do allow me to free up my brain for other projects, I still take a break at least once per hour to check trending topics. It takes two seconds, and can make or break you on Twitter. Whether it be a trend you can jump into with class and humor, or breaking news that requires you to back off, you need to keep track of what is going on.
- Stay engaged in real-time. Not every brand can have someone dedicated to Twitter 24/7, but every mention, reply, or re-tweet is an opportunity to further your connections. In a perfect Twitter-world, brands would treat social media interactions as if the conversation was happening face-to-face. So again, even if you have scheduled tweets for the day, remember to check in often to engage with your followers.
- Shut it all down when tragedy strikes. This should be a no-brainer, but every time a disaster happens, someone makes a huge mistake in social media. Be it hijacking a hash tag for promotional purposes, bad word choices on a scheduled tweet, or simply continuing self-promotion, you run the risk of permanent damage to both your business and personal reputation.Some people advise sending one tweet noting why you are going dark (especially important if you use Twitter for customer service), while others say it’s best to be personal and offer heartfelt sympathies. If you are closely involved in the situation, this is the time to move to crisis communications (which should already be in place) and communicate as needed to keep people safe and advised of the situation. Otherwise, I feel it best to just stop for the day. Any use of a trending word could be taken as self-promotion no matter how well intended, so move to your personal account to offer your sympathies, condolences, or encouragement. No matter which is the best choice for your brand, do not forget to turn off all scheduled tweets, and be fully aware of the situation before turning them on again.