The Easy Way to Spend Less Time On Twitter

Automation in marketing is often quite a controversial topic.  Even more so is automating social media – particularly Twitter.  But automation is the most powerful tool in your arsenal to save you incredible amounts of time in your marketing efforts.

So I’m here to tell you how automate Twitter, successfully, while angering the fewest possible followers.


see url Perhaps a better question than “what should be automated on Twitter” is the question “what shouldn’t be automated?” 

Purists will say nothing should be automated – nothing at all, including the statuses you post each day.  Twitter is meant to be in the moment, they say, and the backbone of what makes users successful on Twitter is that they respond in real time, to real people.  If you’re not online at certain times of day, that makes you human, and it should be embraced.

Some folks go to the opposite extreme – automating everything under the sun, often with a little “via obnoxious follower building tool” signature at the end of any and every tweet they send.  Because they often use free tools, there’s little variation in their automated tweets, and while some people successfully build up a decent chunk of followers, they rarely see a ton of benefit from the audience they’ve collected.


generic orlistat 120mg What if I told you there’s a middle ground that’s better than either extreme?

That’s precisely what I’m telling you.

You don’t have to completely automate your entire Twitter existence (nor should you), but you also don’t need to completely eschew any sort of automated or scheduling tool that makes your life easier.  Twitter shouldn’t be a chore that sucks up hours of your day – it should compliment your other marketing activities.

Before we get into the practical things to automate, there’s something I have to touch on first. What you should never automate: 

Never, ever automate DMs with a blanket statement.  Especially never automate your DMs with one of those free tools that takes on a link to their services as a “signature”. Nothing looks tackier or more unprofessional than those obnoxious automated DM tools.

That isn’t to say you can’t set up a DM campaign to easily DM a chunk of segmented followers – I’ve set up campaigns like that before with considerable success.  But like other marketing activities, you need to have a specific goal in mind and you need to really segment out who you’re going to send those DMs to.

If your current tool doesn’t allow you to segment your followers, and instead you have to choose between DMing all of them or none of them, it’s not suitable for a DM campaign.

Direct messages are not your secret path to converting new followers.  Sending direct messages to new followers without any attempt at building a relationship with that follower is just asking for them to unfollow you, or at best, for them to just ignore the message.

So don’t abuse DMs – leave them as a final step before you move to LinkedIn or email.

Everything else on Twitter can be automated, to a certain extent, as long as you figure out when and where it’s appropriate.


Status Scheduling: The baby step of automation 

Even people who aren’t a fan of 90% of automation will still admit that they schedule a majority of their posts.  This isn’t cheating, and it’s not a bad idea – in fact, it’s a best practice.

You can’t be online 24/7, and you will not remember to tweet things right when you see them.  You might, but if you’re like me and tend to read through blogs in chunks, do you really want to spam your followers with 10 tweets to blog posts in as many minutes?

The answer is no, in case you had to think about it.

Instead, if you find a bunch of blogs or articles you like, drop them into the status scheduler of your choice.  I’ve used several, and which one I recommend for you depends almost entirely on what else you plan on doing with it.  To read more about Twitter-specific resources, you can check out my blog on everything I’ve used and loved by clicking here.

A good minimum frequency to start at is at least 3 tweets of curated content (stuff you didn’t write) a day, adding one tweet about your own content in addition to that.

Remembering to tweet curated content three times a day, and tweet your own stuff once in between, not too close to the other tweets, is nearly impossible.  So take advantage of technology and schedule it!

You’re not tricking your followers into thinking you’re there when you’re not.  You’re sharing content during times they’re most likely to see it, which is doing them a favor.  People follow you because they care about your tweets – so posting tweets at different times throughout the day gives more of your followers the chance to see what you find interesting.

Next Up: New followers and what to do with them 

When you get new followers, one of the polite and community building things you should do is thank them for clicking that ‘follow’ button.

Once you start picking up more than one or two followers a day, however, clicking through them all and keeping track of who’s new can start to get tedious.  You also aren’t likely to be online at the exact time they were, so you miss out on that window to start a conversation.

Enter: automated thank you tweets.

Don’t be obnoxious and don’t be spammy – just like you shouldn’t DM a new follower with a link to buy your ebook, you shouldn’t thank them for following you and immediately send them more links.  Instead, try to start a conversation.

Do this by asking questions.

Ask questions relevant to your business, of course.  Ask what industry someone is in, the last great business book they read, the last blog they read, and so on.

I like to stagger my auto-thanks to happen at least 5 minutes after someone follows me, or lately, 15 minutes later.  I’ve found the 15 minute delay seems to get more replies, perhaps because people have stopped clicking around and are back to scrolling through a feed.  Or it’s been enough time that they exited the app, and get an alert saying they’ve received a new tweet.

I don’t know why it works, but it does.

Play with the timing on your tweets to see what works and what doesn’t.

Automation tip:  Use a tool that allows you send variations on your automatic tweets – Audiense being one of my favorites.  IFTTT, while it will automatically respond to your new followers, is too limited in options. 

In addition, depending on your tool, you may also be able to automate sorting new followers into Twitter lists.  I do this based on bio keywords – if they’re marketers, business owners, and so on.  This helps me keep on top of followers in different categories, so that if I want to look for new prospects or engage with a specific set of followers, they’re already sorted for me in one place.


Other automated responses that can be helpful: 

I also have rules set up to automatically thank people that meet specific influence criteria for retweeting my content.  Because they need to meet specific criteria, these tweets go out far less frequently, and nearly always get a reply.  Delaying them by 30 minutes also gives enough of a time buffer to make it seem more like I’m really the one tweeting – and to make it less of an issue if I’m not online to reply to their reply right away.

This is an option in Audiense for any time someone mentions you, adds you to a list, or likes one of your tweets – and you can set up rules to automatically respond to each of these events.

Be careful going too overboard, and automating everything – some automation is helpful, too much is detrimental.

Think through which activities are the most valuable for you or your business, and which activities you’d like to encourage to start a conversation.  In my case, retweets are a fair sign someone liked my content, and I’d generally like to try and talk with them more.

Your business may have different priorities, such as talking further with people who add you to lists, or creating a list of people who like your tweets.  You can use the rule builder function to automatically generate a list of people who’ve interacted with your content in a specific way, creating a custom, automatic list of potential prospects for you to review.

Nifty, right?

Automated data gathering: the administrative and reporting secret to efficiency

You might not want to automate your Twitter interactions, but what is always a time saving asset is automating a lot of your data collection tasks.

Want to create a log of every single Twitter interaction you make?  The free automation tool, IFTTT, can be a major help to doing so.  It’ll record all of your tweets and put them into a nifty Google spreadsheet, making it easy to organize and keep track of everything you’ve sent – and when.

You can use IFTTT to pull the tweets that you’ve liked, creating a library of content to review later.

In fact, IFTTT has a whole slew of neat Twitter related applets that make managing Twitter easier, or allow you to share content across multiple channels.  Want to integrate your Twitter efforts with more of your social media marketing?  IFTTT can help you automate that process.

Paid tools can automatically pull much of your Twitter data and present it to you in nifty reports, making analysis significantly easier.

The important thing to consider is what will actually help you achieve your marketing goals.  Many IFTTT applets are cool to start, but if they’re not actively moving you towards acquiring more business, then you don’t necessarily need every single one.

Automation Recap

When it comes to automating Twitter, pretty much never automate your DMs.  No one reads them, no one likes them, and blanket-spamming every follower with the same DM is unlikely to net you much in the way of results.

Instead, treat DMs much like email.  Use it sparingly, and segment your followers heavily.  The more specific and segmented your DM campaigns, the better they’ll do.

Automating additional Twitter tasks depends heavily on your business and your personal feelings towards automation.

Automating your thank-you-for-following-me tweets can have a significant positive effect on your engagement metrics, but it’s important to be sure your tweets encourage conversation.  Don’t just set your automated tweets and ignore your Twitter account – actually respond to anyone who responds to you.  You are, after all, trying to start a conversation.

Use automation to help build lists for you to manage your followers and look for potential prospects.

Use automation to help collect your tweets in a manageable way for later analysis.

Use automation to learn about your audience, and provide better content.

And, above all else, don’t be spammy.  Review your automation tools regularly, and make sure to check how your Twitter page looks when someone visits your profile page.

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