This is part 2 of a 3-part series. Here are the links to the other articles in the series:

How to Schedule a Tweet with Hootsuite

Even though you can schedule messages for the other social networking platforms, I’m just going to cover how to work with tweets for the purposes of this article. Most of this will apply to the other social network accounts.

Why would you schedule a single tweet? Or perhaps just a small handful? Perhaps your readers are in a different time zone and they’re awaken when you’re sleeping or driving home in rush-hour traffic. Perhaps you want a few timely messages to go out while you’re at an event or at work. You could set up a small group of tweets to remind people of a seminar you’ll be teaching and you want to be sure they’re on time. Telling them to watch for a certain hashtag could alert them on their phones while you’re getting ready to teach. Be creative! Here’s how you would schedule a single message through Hootsuite:

  1. Login to your free Hootsuite account.
  2. In the top‐left corner of the home screen, there should be a text box containing the words “Compose message…”. Click inside that text box (see Figure 1).
    Figure 1
  3. When you do, it will expand to look like Figure 2. Go ahead and type the message you wish to tweet in the expanded text box.
    Figure 2
  4. Notice as you type, a counter appears at the bottom with the Twitter logo (See Figure 3). This lets you know how many characters you have remaining for your message. Also note there’s a text box that says “Add a link…” You guessed it! This is where you can put a link, should you wish to include one. The benefit of using their link option is 1) they’ll shrink it for you and 2) their “owl” links will create click statistics for you. Yes, you will be able to see how many people actually click on your links. GREAT for figuring out how to improve your marketing approach. Let’s go ahead and add a link to see how it works.
    Figure 3
  5. When you click into that text box, it will also expand and a new “SHRINK” button will appear (as you see in Figure 4).
    Figure 4
  6. Type or paste your link into the text box and click the SHRINK button (see Figure 5).
    Figure 5
  7. When you click the SHRINK button, it will not only make the link a shorter link, but it will also insert it at the end of your message (see Figure 6). At this point, you can just hit the “Send Now” button and it will be posted onto Twitter as if you’d posted it live at Twitter.com. This is how you use Hootsuite as a social media management tool. You can send live messages on all your accounts within a single application. However, for this tutorial, we want to schedule this tweet.
    Figure 6
  8. Just above and to the left of the “Send Now” button, there’s a little calendar icon (labeled with the dark-grey “Scheduling” balloon in Figure 7 below). When you click on that calendar or Scheduling icon, the window will expand and show a mini calendar with other options. Using the mini calendar, you can click through the months and click on a day and it will automatically update the date text box to the right of the calendar (see Figure 7, #1).
    Figure 7
  9. Set the time by clicking on the drop-down boxes (Figure 7, #2) and AM or PM by clicking on the corresponding buttons (Figure 7, #3). NOTE: If you’re scheduling a tweet/message and you want to be notified when it goes out so you can be online to answer questions, tick the “Email me when message is sent” check box.
  10. Once you’ve composed your message, shortened your link and scheduled a date/time, click on the “Schedule” button in the bottom right-hand corner of the window (see bottom-right of Figure 7). The scheduling/message box should shrink back to the small text box we saw at the beginning and you should get a confirmation the message was scheduled (See Figure 8).
    Figure 8

The Rules of Bulk Scheduling in Hootsuite

In general, a tweet campaign can be anywhere from 10-100 tweets sent out in one day, or thousands spread over several days. Due to the limits of Hootsuite, you can only schedule up to 350 tweets in your queue at once. If you took advantage of that max number, to have several campaigns scheduled over a few weeks (a couple of days here and there, let’s say), you can imagine how long it would take to schedule each and every tweet for a campaign if you followed the above instructions. What a nightmare! Remember, to best utilize your valuable time, use the above method for those one/few messages you need to schedule. If you need/want to schedule more than 10, I recommend the Bulk Scheduler.
Bulk scheduling does take some time to initially set up, but once you’ve created your first campaign, you can repeat that campaign just by making some subtle changes. Hootsuite has a list of rules and formatting restrictions that aren’t really necessary to go over here because the spreadsheet I’ve provided here will handle most of the formatting and some of the other things are “fixed” automatically in the scheduler. However, those rules are in the Bulk Schedule Updates window, so the first time you go through this, you might was to read them to educate yourself.
However, there are a few rules the should be addressed or you’ll get errors when you try to upload your spreadsheet:
  1. Duplicate Messages Not Allowed – You cannot use the same exact wording, character for character, in more than one tweet in your campaign. Not sure if Twitter/Hootsuite has some kind of timer (perhaps 24 hours), but this doesn’t mean you can’t send the same exact message tomorrow. The purpose of this rule is to prevent people from spamming the same message multiple times. However, you can change your message by at least one character (even a space) and the tweet will not be rejected (e.g., using “&” instead of “and” will change the tweet; even “Click here!” and “Click here!!” are different just because of the extra exclamation point).
  2. 10-Minute Restriction – You cannot schedule the first tweet in your campaign within 10 minutes of uploading your spreadsheet. So if it’s 7:00 am and my spreadsheet has my first tweet firing off at 7:10 am, by the time I login to Hootsuite and upload my spreadsheet I’ll have run into that 10-minute window. I don’t recommend doing a last-minute campaign, but I’ve woken up many-a-morning, gasping into an upright position in my bed, exclaiming, “@#$%?*@! I forgot to schedule my campaign last night!” and staggering bleary-eyed to my computer in my pajamas. NOTE: Although it isn’t a rule, I don’t recommend scheduling your tweets less than 10 minutes apart, either. It’s just plain obnoxious.
  3. 115 Characters ONLY – Hootsuite has a CSV template you can download, but they don’t tell you that even though you are allowed 140 characters in a tweet, you actually cannot have more than 115 characters in your message PLUS your link. The spreadsheet I’ve included here will solve that problem.
Okay, we’re getting really long here again for a single post, so I’m going to take this over to Part 3!
CLICK HERE to read the next post.
Cheers!
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