I am vehemently anti-auto-posting. But I think scheduling is okay, and can, in fact, be a bit of a lifesaver at times.
But I think there’s a bit of confusion about what the difference is between the two, so I thought I’d take a moment to explain.
Auto-posting is whenever you write one thing (a blog post or a status update) and then push it automatically to some or all of your other social networking. For example, you could write a blog post, and when you hit “publish,” it automatically posts that blog post (with a link) to your Facebook or your Twitter. Or, you could use a dashboard service, like Hootsuite to write one status update that pushes to your Facebook and your Twitter.
Wait a minute. This sounds like a great, time-saving idea, right? Why do I hate it?
It’s impersonal. Here’s an example of someone who auto-posted their new blog post to FB:
And here’s an example of when you post your blog post to Facebook with a little personal note–an introduction:
Which one would you rather read??
As well, each network works in a slightly different way–Twitter, for example, uses hashtags and @mentions, whereas Facebook does not.
Here’s an example of a tweet that’s been autoposted to Facebook (the “#” symbol is a hashtag, used for searching on Twitter, but useless on Facebook):
And then there’s the issue of space: Twitter is limited to 140 characters, whereas a status update on FB is basically endless.
Yes, it’s going to take you an extra 30 seconds or a minute to copy your blog posts’ URL and paste it individually into Facebook and Twitter and write a slightly different intro for both (click here to see the process I go through when I publish a new blog post). But it’s going to be worth it, because your fans and followers will appreciate that you made the extra effort, and I guarantee it will pay off in engagement.
Scheduling, on the other hand, if used wisely, can be your friend.
You can, for example, write your blog posts for the week on the weekend, and then schedule them to be published on the days you normally post, or schedule them to publish at a time when you know you’ll get the best traffic.
You can schedule out several tweets spaced out during the day, useful information or blog posts you’ve come across and want to share with your followers. You can use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer for this.
Scheduling allows you to sit down and do a bunch of work up front, and then let your content publish when it’s the best time for it to publish.
However, a warning:
Don’t think that you can schedule up a week’s worth of tweets and then ignore your twitter for a week. You still need to check your @mentions to make sure no one is talking back to you. They may not be aware you have scheduled posts, and may ask you questions or thank you or reply to one of your tweets.
Be careful about the nature of your scheduled tweets. Last summer, whoever was running the Twitter feed for a Toronto Radiohead concert scheduled up a bunch of tweets before they left work, including one that asked people to tweet photos of all the fun they were having at the concert. The stage collapsed before the concert, and one man was killed, and the concert was cancelled. Don’t be that guy.
Even yesterday, in the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombing, I saw many tweets coming out where people were specifically asking folks to shut down their auto-posting for the day out of respect for the tragedy, and were also requesting brands not to capitalize on the tragedy by offering to make donations for re-tweets.