One of the most powerful and useful social media business tools I’ve found for using Twitter is TweetLater. With recent feature improvements, it is turning out to be a social media third-party application I return to more and more.
TweetLater was developed by Dewald Pretorius and served as one of the first Twitter applications to permit future scheduling of tweets to Twitter. Tweet now, publish later, thus TweetLater was named.
Called a “productivity tool for busy tweeple,” TweetLater manages all your Twitter accounts from a central console to publish tweets on a schedule or in a timely manner. I use it to publish my daily WordPress Tips and WordPress Plugins on my @lorelleonwp Twitter account, creating tweets months in advance at one time, saving time and energy while adding value for my Twitter followers.
Tweetlater is free to use and includes some excellent Twitter automation features such as automated DM thank you notes for new followers, automatic follow, and the recently added feature to vet new followers before performing automation tasks. You can add and manage an unlimited number of Twitter accounts.
You can also monitor the Twitter tweet stream for specific keywords, search terms, or phrases which are automatically emailed to you on your schedule with the Keywords Digest feature. You can enter the information manually, or with the Power Keyword Wizard, which offer a variety of customization features for tracking keywords, including tracking specific people, places, attitudes, languages, hashtags, and links. This helps you monitor Twitter mentions of the things that interest you, or your company, blog, or yourself.
TweetLater has an extensive set of tutorials and a helpful FAQ to help you understand and use all the various features available. A new Help Desk also offers ways users can get direct help from customer support.
Using TweetLater for Social Media Interaction
While many complain about auto-Twitter services and auto-replies, TweetLater can be abused, as can anything, but its value to the blogger is high. The key is to using such services to extend your social media outreach, not replace your personal interactions with automatic bot replies and spammy responses.
There are many ways to use TweetLater to improve your social media coverage, networking, promotion, and publishing. As mentioned, I use it to publish daily tips for WordPress fans. As I travel a lot and depend upon features like the WordPress future post feature to publish posts now for release later, TweetLater allows me to reach out to my blog readers through Twitter to continue to offer WordPress and blogging tips when I’m away from my computer. While TweetLater can be used to initiate a conversation, if you aren’t around to participate, people notice. I use it to keep the information flowing, participating when I’m online and available.
Bloggers and businesses can schedule post announcements, press release coverage, and other timely announcements, covering their bases thoroughly when there is a lot to announce and little or no staff to handle it all.
Entertainers, bands, conferences, and other event organizers can use TweetLater to make timely announcements about their upcoming event. Teachers are using TweetLater to schedule homework, assignments, and reminders to their students.
On TwiTip, Darren Rowse wrote about how to make a “tweet plan” to maximize your Twitter and social media experience. Using a future tweet service, you can better plan your tweets accordingly – both personally and professionally. According to Rowse, you can plan to share pictures, videos, blog post updates, jokes, timely editorial comments, industry resources and links, announcements, and even ask questions to keep your Twitter account active.
While it is critical to put the personal into your social media plans, do you really need to be present when you announce every blog post, any industry resources and link recommendations, videos, or pictures? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it’s enough to post five or so such tweets a day and check in throughout the day instead of constantly monitoring your Twitter account. Twirl, Tweetdeck and other Twitter management applications alert you when you have replies or direct messages, leaving you to keep your online social activity moving while staying focused on your work.
There are services that remind you of birthdays, anniversaries, and annual events, so why not schedule such timely events with tweets?
Earlier this year, knowing I would have no Internet access at an airport, and anticipating a four hour wait, I twittered a mini-meetup with TweetLater scheduled to release once I arrived at the airport to met up with people also awaiting their flights.
There are many useful ways to use TweetLater and other tweet scheduling services, but my favorite is the auto-follow feature.
Auto-follow Offers Fast Customer Service
The automation features make life easier for the busy blogger and business professional. The new auto-vetting feature gives me a chance to check out anyone following my blog to determine if I want to follow them if they follow me.
After speaking at a conference, I may get anywhere from 20 to several hundred people adding me to their follow list, an overwhelming task to keep up with. The auto-follow feature gives me the chance to follow them automatically until I can figure out if they are worth following.
I use the auto-reply, changing the follow message every week or so to keep it fresh and personal, without being spammy, because it is important to me to make my online experience as personal as possible for my readers without taking time and energy from my blog and work. This works very well especially after a large conference.
While many put down auto-follow, it is a huge time saver for me, and a tremendous benefit to my followers. I get many requests for help with WordPress and blogging, requests that should be answered privately not publicly with a back and forth communication to solve the problem. Twitter does not allow private communication with anyone unless you are following them, restricting customer service and communication. When people need help with WordPress or blogging, they want it now. If they waited until I followed them, it could be a very long wait.
By auto-following most of my followers, they can DM me their questions immediately, and if available, I can quickly respond to their DM requests. They don’t have to wait for days or weeks for me to get around to checking them out personally. While not appropriate for everyone, for customer service, this is a time saver.
However, auto-follow comes with a price. For those who follow my twit stream, it’s huge and disjointed with so many followers. It also means I follow people or “things” I shouldn’t, so I do have to dig into my follow list on a regular basis to clean out the trash.
Saving time is key with the increased workload of social media. Karlana Kulseth reports that she uses TweetLater as part of her tweet plan because:
I decided to use TweetLater to auto-respond to new followers. I am really bad about following up with them and thanking them for choosing to follow me. So, this is a great option to have on hand for those who are, like me, bad at saying hello and thank you!
A new commercial version of TweetLater was just announced called TweetLater Professional. It is available for 72 hours of free testing of the date of this post.
TweetLater Professional includes the core features of TweetLater plus:
- A new “TweetCockpit” console for managing Twitter accounts
- Ability to include and exclude Twitter accounts, including or excluding certain parts of specific accounts such as the timeline, replies, and Direct Messages (DMs)
- Setting the number of tweets per account
- Keyword tweet monitoring for follows,
- Finding new follows and contacts
- Retweeting from one account to the next
- Quick response feature
- Tweet sorting
- Addition of integration with Ping.fm and your blog feed
- Direct messaging all your followers at once
- Pre-configuring regular messages, updates, and reminders
- Mashable and customizable Twitter feeds
One of the new features in the professional version is the ability to tweet without copying and pasting @names when you respond to those mentioned in a Twitter tweet, making the process of handling massive tweets easier. I’d love to see auto-suggest in TweetDeck and other Twitter third-party apps, as well as in Twitter itself.
For the business professional and social media expert managing several Twitter accounts and a volume of tweets, the new professional TweetLater service could be invaluable at USD $19.97 a month.
A “sister” application by the TweetLater developer is Post Later which allows future posting to WordPress, Tumblr, Drupal, Joomla, Twitter, FriendFeed, Ping.fm, Laconi.ca, b2evolution, Movable Type, LiveJournal, TypePad, Blogger, Squarespace, and other blogs and microblog social media sites. The commercial service does not add advertising or content to your posts. For services that do not feature future posts, this is invaluable, as well as a great resource for scheduling posts across a variety of blog, microblog, and social media services. PostLater is a commercial service, available for USD $19.95 a month or $149 a year, so it isn’t for the basic blogger.
Twuffer and FutureTweets also offer free tweet scheduling services. TweetManager is a new competitor to TweetLater and is currently in private beta. It says it will offer tweet scheduling, auto-follow, automatic follow on Twitter accounts based upon keywords (limited to 19 a day), auto-replies, automatic tweeting from feed content, and mass messaging Twitter followers or connections. Unlike the ability of TweetLater to manage multiple accounts, TweetManager appears to be limited to only two Twitter accounts.
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The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.