Scheduling Tweets Is NOT Marketing

I will kick this post off with a confession: I have scheduled the odd tweet or two. Usually when something is so important I want to tweet it once, twice or three times to drive some serious traffic. Or sometimes there is something I really want to share but have just barraged my stream with 10 tweets.

Last Sunday I took a stand saying that Social Media is NOT new. Stick with me and hopefully today we will agree that scheduling / automating any social account is NOT Marketing.

How can you listen?

I will let you in on a secret. My Twitter success is because I actively read my home page and private lists to see what certain users, segments and locations are saying. I do quick and dirty sentiment analysis, event scanning and news checking. I follow some tweeters triumphs and challenges. In marketing terms I’m doing my market research.

The key is I’m getting to know them as well as I can. When I log into tweet I spend a minute or two reading my timeline and more often than  not find somebody to engage who fits my strategic trajection. If you are automating you have missed that. More importantly, by listening to my feed I know when to post links, when to tweet socially and when to reach out to users.

You need to talk to people

The ‘gurus’ always say engage, engage and engage. As much as I bag this concept (because it is NOT new and we rarely speak about monetizing i) in a social channel you need to be social. By having listened I know what to say to people.  In marketing terms I know what message to deliver and through which channel.

I’ve always drawn a line between social accounts made to propagate information and accounts that are playing a longer term game. It is my belief that those playing the longer term game and building monetizable fan-bases will remain strong whereas users will eventually realize that propagated accounts nothing more than subscribing to an advertising stream.

Users are not stupid. Within the next two years I speculate that they will figure this out and demand more from brands or retract themselves from public social media. Which side do you want to be on?

Look at Friendfeed

Paul Carr hilariously points out that he is probably the only person to have deleted his Friendfeed this year; not because of a mass Friendfeed exodus but because he is the only person who remembered he even had it. I have around 2,700 Friendfeed subscribers. My best guess is a whole 0 of them actively read my feed. I think I’ve logged in to Friendfeed twice.

This is because Friendfeed functions as a mostly automated internet feed. Once I plug my services in there is little re-visit value. My Twitter page contains the same information and active content generation / conversations. Friendfeed has become nothing more than a failed presence. I’m not alone. Most of us did the same thing. Sign up, plug in and go back to Twitter.com. When robots talk to robots not much marketing happens.

Some automation is ok

My Foursquare plugs in to Twitter. My Feedburner auto tweets. There is nothing wrong with plugging certain streams into others automatically. It becomes a problem when the entire stream is propagated.

As I mentioned earlier, I schedule the odd tweet or two, usually for good reason.. However, I encourage those who automate more than 15-20% of their presence to realize you are missing some major learning, monitoring and relationship building opportunities. On top of that you are catalysing a race to the bottom that will burn any ROI social sites have left.

You are NOT marketing by scheduling tweets. The reality is even direct marketers and telemarketers try to speak to me. You don’t.