Scheduling updates can be a contentious issue in the world of social media, and with good reason too. There are two schools of thought among social media consultants. On the one hand, social media is all about customer engagement – it’s called ‘social’ for a reason. Companies are expected to converse with their customers and clients, politely and publicly. On the other hand, social media is just another marketing tool to be used to get information out to the world. People don’t follow you because they want to chat, they’ve got friends for that. They follow businesses for specific information – offers, events, industry news. Just get the information to them when they’re online.
Of course, the reality is somewhere in the middle of these two theories. Followers and fans want information on current events, but they also want to let you know what they think, and the problems which they’re having – and they expect you to respond in a timely manner. Scheduling social media updates certainly has a place in a well-rounded social media strategy – the key is to use it wisely.
Good practice with scheduling updates is to take the time in the morning to consider what information needs to go out that day (or week). Craft a few brilliantly worded updates, and use a tool such as HootSuite or ViralHeat to schedule them. Take a look at which ones you think will generate the most engagement and write a note to yourself to check in around that time to monitor comments and mentions. This way, you don’t spend all day wondering when to tweet again and what to say, and there’s no need to religiously log in to Facebook and Twitter to respond to everything immediately. By doing your social media in chunks like this, you will save time throughout the day.
However, it pays to keep up with industry news and current events – especially if you’re attending them! Having scheduled updates which interrupt the live-tweeting of an event, or which are reporting on suddenly outdated news, will look strange to your followers and Fans, so it is still necessary to keep an eye on your future stream and make sure that it continues to be relevant.
A lot of companies only update their social media streams during business hours; when their employees are at work. This means that users likely check in to their accounts most often outside of business hours; when they are not at work. Perhaps they check Facebook over breakfast, and tweet on the train home. Scheduling social media updates outside of business hours is a great strategy for increasing the potential reach of your updates without going into overtime.
What do you think of scheduling updates as a social media strategy? Do you think that it takes the spontaneity out of the conversation, or do you see it as an intelligent response to a real need?