5 Reasons to Schedule Tweets

Many including myself have said that “Scheduled Tweets” are bad and go against the norms of social media. In a general sense we are correct, why tweet when you’re not around to respond since the majority of people use scheduled tweets to say something during the night when they are a sleep or keep their twitter stream active when they’re not available (on a plane, on vacation, etc.). But like all guidelines there can be no absolutes, so here are 10 reasons why schedule tweets are OK to use and how to use them correctly.
  1. Deferring a Tweet – you’re up late and spot important something that you want to tweet or Retweet but know that the majority of your followers are asleep. So why not queue up that tweet to go out several hours later when they’ll see it in their streams and of course you’ll be on-line at that time;
  2. Follow Friday Recommendations – I frequently have to bend my brain backwards and think back every Friday of who I want to recommend and why. So I’ve now started to recommend people as they inspire me, but I set that #ff hashtag and schedule the Tweet for Friday (at a time of course that I’ll be on-line);
  3. Event reminders – you know of an event that you want to help promote and you came up with a killer Tweet. So off it goes but you want to remember to resend that tweet or a variation of it out at key times. So why not copy the tweet and schedule it. Of course make sure they’re schedule for times you are most likely to be on-line;
  4. Slowing your stream down - You’re on a roll, flipping through daily reading list at the speed of light and have discovered so much to Tweet out. Yet you don’t want to overload your follower's Twitter streams, so take a deep breath before hitting that “Tweet Now” button and schedule them with perhaps a 5, 10 or maybe 15 minute gap.
  5. Content Promotion – you’ve taken the time to write that blog post and as soon as it’s done off goes a tweet to promote it. Great, but we all know that most tweets go unseen by most of our followers. So we then have to remember to send out a tweet again a few hours later or perhaps even the next day. So why not schedule these tweets! There’s nothing wrong with it as long as you plan on being on-line when they are scheduled to go out.
In essence there is nothing wrong with scheduling tweets, provided you’re going to be on-line when they go out and can respond to people if the comment on it on Twitter. I also like to review any tweets I have scheduled at least once a day, to make sure I’ll be on-line when they do go out, to double check for typos and if I know I’m not going to be around when they are scheduled, I reschedule them for a more appropriate time. 


How Twitter Killed My Influence Score

In the world of social media, many of us look at how we can measure its impact on business. Traditional web analytics tools and concepts simply don’t work. Over the past year, several companies released tools to measure people’s impact and influence on the popular social media tool Twitter.

The two best measurement tools in this sector (in my opinion) are Klout and Twitalzyer. Having enjoyed the valuable information provided by these tools plus achieving a relatively high score I set out to understand (reverse engineer) what makes these tools tick. During my tests and trials I continually drove up my score to some very impressive levels and then one day BANG my daily Twitalzyer impact score plummeted to a new low.

This occurred (Nov. 8, 2010) the day before PubCon an event where I’d be tweeting a lot from and which in turn would generate a lot of retweets (2 factors both tools highly value). I quickly set out to understand why this was happening so I could get it resolved quickly. What I discovered was that Twitter had deleted nearly 12,000 of previous Tweets. Now since all tools don’t just look at what you did today, but what you’ve done over various different pre-defined measurement periods this killed my score. After all, Twitalyzer thought that in my 2 years on Twitter I had only tweeted a half dozen times.

It’s important to note that I have Twitalyzer on manual update. So during PubCon I did not perform any updates knowing that any update would impact my overall score. The disappearance of tweets happened to several of us at the conference and we had all seen it before. So we just left it as expecting it to be fixed in 1 or 2 days. It wasn’t so I set out to contact Twitter.

Of course there is no email or telephone number to contact support at twitter just a Twitter ID. So I browsed their website and was fortunate enough to find a post on Twitter about this problem, add my own post and within 1 day the missing tweets restored.

So I then proceed to update my Twitalyzer account and it appeared to work but something still seemed wrong. At this point I contact Twitalyzer and they told me that there was now something else wrong. That their queries through the Twitter API were timing out or something else was wrong  either way, they couldn’t retrieve any information on my Twitter activity.

I was once again tweeting the issue to @support on Twitter and posting in the support area of their website. In no case did I hear anything back, but data started becoming available. Great I thought but the data still looked wrong. A further discussion with Twitalyzer, I found out that they were only getting partial info now on me. For low volume users this wouldn’t be a problem but I’m on the high end of how many tweets I do a day plus how many retweets and references by others (all 3 important measurement tools) so  their 7 days averages were (shall we say) extremely messed up.

What was the impact of this on my Klout score during this period? Nothing as Klout was limited to a manual update once every 7 days. So I didn’t update my account during this mess. But they Klout changed how it worked and started doing automatic daily updates. This change in their policy coincided with a new algorithm which gave me an immediate boast which lasted a short period of time, but now that their measurement period starts after my Twitter problem started, my score has been declining steadily.

Klout 30 day trend taken Nov. 17, 2010

Klout 30 day trend taken Dec 30, 2010

So it’s been nearly 2 months since this problem 1st started, I’ve tweeted it to @support on Twitter at least 20 times, I’ve posted it in their help area and at best I might get a day once in awhile where these tools can properly index my Twitter activity. 

To help visualize the problem, look at the two charts below (obtained from my Twitalzyer account) that displays my Twitter activity for the previous 7 days. This includes the number tweets, mentions  and retweets – 3 key Twitter measurements. The first one was taken at approximately 1 pm on December 30th and the other around 5 pm. Note the reported activity on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. While I’ll admit I did very little tweeting on the Saturday, Friday was a typical day of approximately 50-60 tweets not the zero reported for both days. Pay close attention to the change in the reported activity on the Sunday. The number of tweets drops from 29 updates to 2 updates. How is that possible? Simple Twitter is blocking Twitalyzer from retrieving information beyond the past 300 updates. The result is what appears to be 2/3 days out of 7of limited impact/influence on Twitter which translates into an overall lower Twitalzyer Impact & (while can't prove it) Klout scores.

Taken December 30, 2010 (at approximately 1:00 pm)

Taken December 30, 2010 (at approximately 5:00 pm)

In a nutshell, Twitter appears to be throttling the API access to my user activity which is killing my influence scores.

To see for yourself, conduct a simple search on search.twitter (http://search.twitter.com/search?q=aknecht) for my twitter ID and you'll see the problem. At times you’ll get a blue whale on the 1st page results, another time you might get 1st page results but the blue whale will show itself when you go to page 2.

While both tools still provide me with valuable information on the effectiveness of what I’m doing on Twitter, Twitter is killing my various influence scores. Why do I care? Because many companies are looking at peoples scores (usually Klout) to decide on which company to hire to help them with their social media campaigns and some conferences look at these scores to see who they should invite to speak at their events. While this is not what these tools were made for, people are using them as such and all of us in this industry now eed to worry about our influence scores.

My options are limited. I know Twitter is a free tool and as I always say “What is the cost of free?” – so I don’t have a support person to call, I can’t withhold payment etc. My contacts at Twitalzyer and Klout also have the same problem when it comes to contacting Twitter. So all I can do continue to tweet to twitter support, post in the support blog and hope & pray that someday someone at Twitter reads this post and fixes my account.

The alternative is to start a new Twitter account and try and get my current 1,700 plus follower to switch which if happened over the course of 1 or 2 days would look like a spam account and would likely be shut down by Twitter. So as in the immortal words of Otis Redding “I guess I’ll remain the same...”