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Twitter from the Desktop and Scheduling Tweets
I had somebody ask me recently what my favorite desktop Twitter app is. The answer is...MetroTwit (http://www.metrotwit.com/). It's desperately pretty and very functional. The free version is ad supported but the pay version is only about $15US and I like what they're doing so I paid. One of the other nice features of the pay version is that it supports multiple accounts.
One of the features MetroTwit DOESN'T have yet is the ability to schedule tweets but I'm experimenting with two other services that can do that:
Buffer (http://www.bufferapp.com) is an interesting concept. Basically you post Tweets into it and it will automatically post those tweets for you on a specified schedule. You can set up a schedule with as many regular "slots" as you like at different times of day. For example: 10:15AM, 11:33AM, 1:42PM, 2:58PM, 3:27PM and 4:19PM. You put a tweet into Buffer and it will post it for you at the next time slot, let's say its 10:15AM. Put another tweet into Buffer and it will post that one at 11:33AM. The idea is that you "fill up" your buffer with a bunch of tweets waiting to go and Buffer will automatically post them in the time slots you've specified. If you have 6 time slots (like our example) then the 7th tweet you put in Buffer will get posted tomorrow at 10:15AM.
The free version of Buffer will accept up to 10 tweets at a time. The paid version is $10/month and allows an unlimited queue of posts.
I'm a little mixed on Buffer right now...I do like the simplicity of posting into it and letting it send the tweets but I can do that for free with Tweet4Me (we'll get to that). What I like most about Buffer I guess is that it tries to give you analytics on each post. So you can see how many people retweeted, mentioned, clicked (if you have a link), favorited and so forth each post. Over time you could probably use that to get a feel for which time slots are most beneficial for you to post in and that could let you dial in your social media strategy a bit more.
That said, at the moment, I'm having a hard time justifying $10 a month for it. Not that the price seems unfair...just that I'm trying to figure out if it's worth $120 a year for those kinds of analytics. I'll keep evaluating...
Tweet4Me (http://tweet4.me) is a free service that you can use from ANY twitter client. First you need to follow @tweet4me and it will follow you back. That's essential because the service works via DMs and you can't DM people you don't follow and who don't follow you. When you want to use it all you do is send a direct message like this "d tweet4me +2h Wow, this is a really imporant tweet". That would post "Wow this is a really important tweet" to your account 2 hours from now. You can also tell it to post on a specific date and time with d tweet4me 13-8 1530h... Which would be the 13th of August at 3:30PM.
There are a bunch of options - you can schedule at a specific time today, a certain number of minutes or hours from now, a specific time on a specific day, etc.
There's no discernable limit on Tweet4Me and you can schedule tweets well into the future.
You can even have Tweet4Me place tweets into your Buffer (see above) by using +b as the scheduling code.
Why Schedule Tweets?
You might be wondering why to bother scheduling at all. Shouldn't we just post them? There are a few reasons to schedule, actually...
1. It's 11:45 at night and you just had a great idea for a work tweet...but you know 99% of your audience is asleep right now. Schedule it for 10:30 in the morning when you' know they're more likely to be up and logged in.
2. You've just posted 6 straight tweets and you don't want to totally flood your follower's stream. I hit this one a lot - I read an interesting article or a series of them and if I tweeted every single thing from those I'd have 20 or 30 straight tweets...which is a little annoying. By using the scheduler I can spread them out over the next few days...so my followers don't have to deal with All Ben, All the time.
3. To provide social media presence even when you're not present. I know I have a travel day coming up and I won't be tweeting too much that day. I've also got a few tweets ready to go that aren't especially time sensitive. So every couple of hours, even while I'm in mid-air, a tweet will get auto-posted for me.
4. To post when they're more timely. I will often post reminders to people just before certain events or dates. With tweet scheduling I can actually post those tweets NOW even though they won't actually post to Twitter until the exact day/time I wanted them to. I don't have to worry about remembering it now.
At this point I actually schedule most of my tweets - I generally only "live tweet" the things that seem time-sensitive. Tweets about things happening right now for example.
Twitter is still a useful and powerful tool in your social media arsenal. Use the right gear and you'll get the most out of it.