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Scheduled Failure

Losing the Conversation

Thu Jul 30 11:00:01 2015

Last week I stood in for a regular Tweeter in a local Twitter Hour,[1] as they were unavailable. I resolved during my hour’s watch to answer anyone who used the correct hashtag or the hour’s nick.[2] During this time I encountered a phenomenon that has always annoyed me slightly when we encounter its fail mode, that is the scheduled tweet.

We all know the scheduled tweet, we have read the advice, signed up to the buffer/hootsuite/sum all/tweetdeck et al. service that provides it. We may have followed the industry experts advice and profiled when our readers are online, inspected further to see which tweets they are likely to read and interact with, drilled down so we know when they are most likely to become our advocates and then blasted them with our social media nuke.

Okay we know the horror stories, the Tweet fails where X large company responds automagically to Y word with a well-armed missile only to have egg explode over them as it is a social crisis they just marketed to. That’s a pitfall. That’s a danger. We can avoid that with careful monitoring and scrutiny.

But there is another danger, a very real one that those with a hole in their social media action plan, or lack of available staff fall into very quickly and to great detriment. What do you do if someone replies to your scheduled tweet and you miss it.

Twitter, and in fact a lot of social media, is not a monologue it is a dialogue. It is a conversation that you are having. It is not an email exchange it is closer to an instant relay chat. If you are marketing directly to people on Twitter, getting your words of wisdom to the right audience. Or merely spreading the word in order to better a cause, idea or brand. You had better be ready to respond, and not the following day either.

When we speak it is because we want to say something and have someone respond. We try to interest our audience, engage with them and are happy when they engage back. Our tone is conversational and our audience knows that. The scheduled tweet is conducted, if it is written well, in this same manner. It is an invitation to engage and if we don’t respond when they talk back how do we seem? We look aloof, or uncaring, ignorant or just rude. You speak, hear a response and then ignore.

It can get worse. What happens if you have two scheduled tweets and your audience sees them both before you have responded to their response to the first? How is that a dialogue, how is that engagement? Well, of course it is not. You have just identified yourself, you have shown your true colours. You don’t care.

The true power of Twitter, more so than many of the other Social networks, is its immediacy. On Twitter you are living in the moment, in the present and the dialogue is current. You can schedule tweets, you can re-engage with a repeat, but you have to be their to respond. Don’t schedule a tweet for a time when you cannot be available for a conversation, it just misses the point and brings greater #fail.

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[1] Yes they still exist in varying degrees of success and popularity.

[2] The @NAME associated with the hour.