Is Your Scheduled Twitter Feed a Marketing Disaster Waiting to Happen?

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Twitter can be a wonderful tool for communicating with lots of different customers and colleagues all at once, with the added bonus that followers can re-tweet your messages to their contacts, magnifying your marketing and PR reach with every message.

The only problem? Logging onto Twitter can be time-intensive and inconvenient, something that's easy to forget in the course of a busy week. And, if you aren't posting to your Twitter account, then you aren't getting any of the marketing benefits that come with it.

Not surprisingly, there is an easy solution to these problems: use a “scheduled tweet” service like HootSuite or TweetDeck. Each of these allows you to prepare your tweets ahead of time, so you don't have to worry about clicking into your account. In fact, you can even decide on topics well in advance, so you post regularly on a pre-set editorial schedule.

That might sound like a great idea, and it usually is, but the concept should come with a word of caution: Not handling social media in real time can lead to big blunders.

We don't have to go back very far into recent history to see why this could be. As many of us were glued to our televisions, trying to process the horror of what was happening in Sandy Hook, a fair number of Twitter users were still happily pumping out platitudes about what a “great day” it was, or worse, pushing promotions that seemed incredibly insensitive. In other words, while Twitter was exploding with breaking news on a terrible tragedy, some people (and more than a few companies) came off looking incredibly out of touch, or downright soulless.

No doubt a few people were informed as to what was going on, but it's also a good bet that a lot of the blame can be hoisted onto the shoulders of pre-scheduled social media. Because the software was operating on autopilot – with no one watching it regularly – things just got worse and worse.

The bottom line? Scheduled tweet services can be a nice tool that gives you convenience, but real-time social media posting is usually a better idea. At the very least, you want to ensure that you're keeping a close eye on your accounts so you aren't sending the wrong messages, at the wrong time, and turning off friends, colleagues, and customers in the process.

By David A. West  Join me on Google+

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