Last week I was pleased to have my first article published in the Tennessean, the state's largest newspaper. The article, "Scheduling tweets runs risk of outage, outrage", is about the dangers of prescheduling tweets. I have reposted it here for you to enjoy. I have to give a shout out to Nancy VanReece, who cracked me up with this tweet.
Automation is a great thing. It makes online marketing easier and Twitter less time consuming. It can also cause problems and even public relations nightmares.
Businesses rely on stable hosts, and they expect their websites to be ready to serve visitors, customers and potential customers. Downtime can result in huge revenue losses and other missed opportunities.
The hosting company I use for my site was experiencing unscheduled downtime recently. Customers were not happy because the company provided little information about why the sites were down.
When my site went down and my host company site was unavailable, I turned to Twitter to ask them directly about the problem and was surprised to find a pre-scheduled, poorly timed tweet that read:
“How valuable is your data? Do you have a backup plan? You should!” The tweet included a link to an article that presumably contained more information about backing up. However, since the host site was down too, the link simply returned an error page.
The replies came quickly:
“This isn’t a good tweet to send out when you’re having outages… ha ha,” read one tweet. “STOP tweeting links that don’t work AND GET OUR SITES BACK UP!” read another.
I understand that many people use pre-scheduled tweets. Social media management dashboard services like Hootsuite come with the option included. Excellent third-party scheduling tools like Buffer base their entire business models on pre-scheduling.
In my book, New Business Networking, I write that it is fine to pre-schedule tweets. However, this should be done sparingly and mixed with plenty of regular interactions such as real-time tweets, replies and retweets. I recommend my clients never schedule tweets very far in advance, because one forgotten tweet can cause you major headaches.
If you are aware of what is scheduled, you can quickly adjust your plan should it suddenly become necessary, as in the case of a Radiohead concert in Toronto. Tragedy occurred when the stage collapsed and killed an attendee and injured others. The concert organizer failed to stop their scheduled tweet that read:
“Help us create a @radiohead photo album from the show! Share your Instagram photos from the show tonight with the hashtag #RadioheadTo.”
The angry replies were swift:
“Well done managing your pre-scheduled tweets”
“PR 101: Cancel your scheduled Tweets.”
“Wow… You might want to check in on your scheduled tweets for tonight. NOW. #SocialMediaFailOnThatLastTweet”
“Are you guys ******* stupid? Here’s your photo you thoughtless *****.” The tweet included a link to a photo of the collapsed stage.
Scheduling tweets is fine, but if the tweet is important, it is wise to rely only on real-time tweets. Never schedule too many tweets or tweets too far in advance, or you could forget what you have coming.
Do you have scheduled tweets queued up? Take a moment now to review them and consider my advice.
Have you ever seen problems arise with scheduled tweets? Please leave a comment with your thoughts.