The following is part of a series on using the Hootsuite social media tool. In this post we are going to be looking at using the bulk scheduling feature.
First, we are going to take a step back and look at the two basics ways to schedule tweets so you get an idea of how things work before we get into bulk scheduling. Using the Hootsuite dashboard, you can enter a tweet the way you normally would but, instead of hitting “tweet,” you click the schedule button. When a calendar pops up, you click on the date, set the time, click schedule, select the accounts, and you are good to go (see screen shot below).
One of the nice things is that, if you copy this bookmarklet into Safari, you can get it to sync with your iPad and schedule tweets. One of the bad things is that it doesn’t work on the iPhone. If you try to use it on the iPhone, you get stuck in a loop suggesting that you download the iPhone app. I have mentioned this to Hootsuite multiple times, but they don’t seem to care …
Now that we have a basic idea of how scheduling in Hootsuite works, we’re going to want to kick it up a notch with bulk tweet scheduling. I haven’t hit an upper limit as to how many tweets you can schedule, but they do have to be different (you can’t retweet the exact same tweet more than once).
You will need a spreadsheet with the following columns:
Date (dd/mm/yyyy format)
Time (hh:mm format)
Depending on your spreadsheet program, it may not offer the ability to use the (dd/mm/yyyy) format ( Google docs doesn’t). If that’s the case just force the formatting to be a text format. I like to fill in the tweets first, before the day and time. Throughout the week I will forward myself emails of things I would like to tweet. Google reader, ziteapp, and most newspaper or other apps have an email this story function. Set up a rule to catch these emails. Every few days or at the end of the week, I will go through the folder and put the text and URL into the spreadsheet. Once I have them all there, I will go through and put in the the dates. I like to make sure I have at least one per day. Then I will set up the time: I like 12-5 EST because it gives me the opportunity to reach East and West coast followers. If there are multiple tweets, I will set them to go at different times in that (12-5) time window. Once all the tweets are ready, you can export to a CSV file.
Once you have a CSV file you choose Schedule a Tweet > Bulk Upload, then choose the account and file, and you are good to go. If you haven’t made any mistakes, it will let you know how many tweets were accepted. If you made a mistake, it will spit you out a fairly descriptive, easy-to-understand message.
IMHO, scheduling tweets is a huge time saving step to take. Many social media experts shy away from it because they think it makes you less authentic; personally, I have better things to do than sit in front of twitter all day (tk). You can schedule out tweets for your campaign, archive tweets to affiliate centric posts, or do anything that you want.
Once you have all your tweets imported, you can check to make sure you don’t have any tweets that step on each other or are scheduled for the middle of the night. You will just need to set up a tab for pending tweets.
IMHO working in batch mode does save you a bit of time as opposed to doing each tweet as you see it, but it does make it one big job instead of 50 little ones. I’d love if Hootsuite added a functionality that would auto schedule the way Bufferapp does (see Bufferapp review) but, for now, it doesn’t. Is this process perfect and hassle free? No. However, IMHO taking an hour a week to schedule tweets across multiple accounts, filling an entire week’s worth of tweets, is much more productive than sitting on twitter all day. As a bonus, you can also schedule updates to Facebook accounts or pages using this method as well.
To be clear, I am a current paying customer of Hootsuite. If you sign up from my link I will get a commission. This is a product I have been using for a few months. I have been happy with it and am comfortable recommending Hootsuite as a social media management tool.
photo credit: Photospin