How to Tweet From Your Archives Without Pissing People Off

The following is part of a series on automation. In this post, we will look at using the tweet old posts plugin. To be honest, this is an extremely effective tool for automating your Twitter stream; that said, it is also one of the most controversial.

Most people are content to simply turn this plugin on and let it run. They’re making a mistake. IMHO you need to either curate your blog to create a group of your best posts to retweet or you need to exclude the posts that aren’t evergreen from your archive tweets.

Step one. During your yearly content audit,  decide if you will use a “best of” category or create a category to exclude. On this blog, I have multiple exclusion categories: one of posts not to tweet, one of posts not to appear in the carousels,  and one of posts not to be included in the popular posts page  or sidebar display. Sometime it’s because they are date sensitive and won’t be important in a few months, sometimes it’s because the posts rank for non SEO centric topics, and sometimes it’s just an editorial decision.

Next visit the plugin settings page and check/uncheck the categories you want to tweet or not tweet.

screen shot of categories to not retweet

Look at your total number of posts, subtract the excluded posts, and you’ll know how many posts are eligible for “archive tweets.”

Count of how many posts are excluded

Depending on how many posts you have, determine a frequency for retweeting your archives. If you only have 300 posts and tweet three a day, you will repeat your tweets 3+ times a year. IMHO that’s a mistake. You should really have enough posts and determine a frequency that doesn’t tweet them more than twice a year. There are exceptions to this rule that I talk about in how to use hootsuite and bufferapp together.

If you are unsure about how often and when to tweet, I suggest you look at tweriod  (see What is the Best Time of Day to Tweet). Additionally, take a look at some information on social scheduling. Basically speaking, you want to tweet when the most people will see your tweet, click on the link, read it, and hopefully retweet it. Retweeting it at 2 AM, when most people are asleep or at when it’s likely to only be seen by bots, isn’t doing you any good or driving any traffic or attention to your website.

The last part of making the most out of tweeting old posts is fine tuning. You may have to adjust your frequency or remove the odd post that is in the retweet pool. If I see a bad “archive” tweet, I kill it on the spot and flag it not to retweet. Other than that, I review my archive tweets once a week to make sure the quality is as high as I can make it.

Since I work in the internet marketing space, my followers have a lot of overlap with social media fans, experts, and consultants. To be honest, many of them are not fans of the archive tweets. First off, let me say that social media experts are like locusts cross bred with an ADHD adult gone off their meds. They will consume content like a plague of locusts consumes a crop, and they expect to be entertained with fresh new content the way a three year old hopped up on too much soda and birthday cake  expects to be entertained during a birthday party. They are a mutant aberration and, unless they are your audience, you can largely ignore them … Or at least ask if they want some cheese with their whine … 🙂

That said, there is a fine line between being whiney and offering up constructive criticism. It’s often hard to tell them apart. Look for the nuggets that ring true, are really problematic, or present an opportunity for you to improve. Don’t pander to the great unwashed masses or allow them to dictate what should or shouldn’t be in your stream. It’s your stream, and they are free to unfollow whenever they want to. While I have made adjustments based on some suggestions, I think they are just jealous that my robo-tweets get more attention than their lovingly hand crafted ones … but you know what they say.  Haters gonna’  hate …

So what are the takeaways from this post:

  • Set up a “best of” or “exclusion” category so that you only retweet your highest quality posts.
  • Study your followers’ behaviors to find the optimal time to retweet old posts.
  • Find an interval and frequency that keeps you from being too repetitive.
  • Fine tune your “best of” or “exclusion” list regularly.
  • Isolate the constructive criticism from whiners and haters. Adjust your strategy as needed.

Epilogue
This post itself was conceived in response to a tweet that Scott Straten (aka Unmarketing) made about how how archive tweets are bad.

Scott Stratten Doesn't Like Archive Tweets

I like Scott. I’ve met him at pubcon, he’s a great guy and, if you ever have the opportunity to see him speak, you absolutely should. He’s very inspirational. Additionally, his Ted talk is amazingly heartfelt.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Cakm2nIQWo[/youtube]

That said, I disagree with him about automated tweets. He falls onto the “social media is a conversation” line of things, and I simply disagree. I don’t think most people or companies need to spend all day on Twitter. In fact, I think that’s a horrible idea, with very little ROI. However, I understand my strategy is not the strategy for everyone or every situation, so my objective here is to provide balance with a different opinion and implementation.

photo credit: Shutterstock

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