I’ve been using Hootsuite for a couple of years and one of the great functions it provides is the ability to schedule tweets for a time in the future. This can be useful if you’ve just written a blog post and want to promote it – you can write a few tweets with links to the post and schedule them to go out over the next day.
For me, this feature is valuable because I live in Australia, yet most of my Twitter followers are in the US and Europe. So while I’m asleep, they’re awake. If I publish a lot of tweets when I’m awake, most of my followers won’t see them. So the best solution for me is to schedule some tweets to be sent while I’m asleep.
Now, some of the people reading this may be opposed to automating anything to do with Twitter. That’s fine – it’s good to have an opinion. I’m comfortable with automating some of the more mundane tasks to do with Twitter, so I have more time to do some of the more important tasks, like interacting with my followers.
Hootsuite Schedule Tweets Option
There are a couple of versions of Hootsuite – Free and Pro. I use the Pro version because it allows me to use more social media accounts as well as have more control over my tweet schedules.
The ‘basic’ schedule tweets function in Hootsuite allows you to queue tweets for the future, and they are released at a time the Hootsuite’s algorithm feels is the optimum time for maximum engagement with your followers.
This may be fine for a lot of people, but you have no control over the actual times the tweets go out.
The pro version allows you to specify the day and time your tweets are sent. You’re also able to bulk upload a batch of tweets to be sent in the future. This is what I’ve been doing recently.
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What To Tweet?
One of the big questions people have is ‘what to tweet?’ I like to use a mix:
- Quotes, sayings etc
- Links to other blogger’s articles
- Links to my own articles
- Links to products I recommend
I use Hootsuite for 1 and 3, and Triberr helps with 2. I’ve been using Hootsuite to help with 4. The auto scheduling option makes it easy to set up tweets that you want to tweet out more than once. So if you want to promote some affiliate products, make a list once, import it into Hootsuite, then next time you want to use it all you need to do is change the dates and re-import it. Simple.
In the rest of this article I’ll show you how to set up a csv file to import tweets into Hootsuite.
What Does Hootsuite Need To Schedule Tweets
Hootsuite needs three things in a .csv file format:
- Date / time
- Tweet message
- URL (optional)
Preparing the .csv file is quite easy.
I’ve attached a sample /csv file for you to use with some of the cells pre-filled for you.
The first column is where your date is entered. Then only tricky thing here is deciding what format you’ll use. Being an Australian, I enter dates like this 2/01/2013 1:16:00 AM (this is the 2nd of January 2013, not the 1st of February!).
The next column is where you enter your message. The third column is where the URL goes.
Hootsuite will shorten the URL when it’s placed in the third column. If you want to use your own URL shortener, you could try putting the URL in the second column with the text.
You just keep on adding rows until you’re finished, then save it as a .csv file.
Uploading Your Scheduled Tweets To Hootsuite
Once you’re logged into Hootsuite, go to the dashboard settings on the left hand side. Select the ‘Publisher’ option (the arrow) and then click on the ‘Schedule in Bulk’ button that’s at the top.
This will open the uploader window that I showed earlier in this post.
Upload your .csv file to Hootsuite by browsing the files on your computer.
Next, select which social media account you’re using. You can’t schedule it to more than one account at a time, but you can always upload multiple files to multiple social media accounts if you need to.
Once you’ve selected your social media account, check that that correct date format has been picked (I suggest this because I may have had some issues with this in the past!).
When you’re done, click the ‘submit’ button and Hootsuite will go to work scheduling your tweets. If you’ve formatted something wrong, it’ll tell you and you’ll be able to go back to your csv file, fix it and try again.
Once it’s uploaded, you’re able to check what’s in your scheduled tweet queue so you can make sure the tweets look ok and the times are correct. You can also delete any tweets before they’re sent.
A Few Things I Learnt When Scheduling Tweets
Hootsuite won’t let you schedule the same tweets twice in the same upload. I tried writing a bunch of tweets, then copying and pasting them to the rows below so I could send out the same tweets a few days apart. Hootsuite won’t allow this as part of the same upload. I had to split the csv file into two separate files and upload it twice.
The upload window says you need to enclose your message and URL in double quotes (“). I’ve tried doing this and the tweets appear with these double quotes around them! It makes no sense. Just ignore them and check your tweets once you’ve uploaded them.
Two Tweet Scheduling Time-Savers
There’s two extra things I’ve done that save me time when scheduling tweets.
Use a formula for the date
If you want to upload thirty tweets at once, it can be a bit tedious having to manually enter the date and time thirty times! I’ve discovered a formula to help speed it up.
In the first row / column, you need to enter the date and time of your first tweet.
Below that, for the next tweet, you use a formula. You can see it in the screenshot to the left.
Basically the formula is saying for cell A2, use the time and date in cell A1 and add 0.042 ‘units’ to it.
I call them units because I don’t know what else to call them but what I’ve learnt through trial and error is if you add the amount of 0.042 to the previous time, this will add exactly one hour to the scheduled date and time.
So in this example, the tweet in the second row is scheduled to go out exactly one hour after the first one.
Now, if you’ve got a row 3, you copy the formula in cell A2 and paste it into A3. My advice is to change the 0.042 value up or down a bit to suit your needs. You may prefer to send your tweets every two hours. Personally, I don’t like having the same interval between tweets, so I prefer to change this number.
I have a spreadsheet of approximately 30 tweets (30 rows). I usually make around 4-6 rows of varying time intervals, then copy these formulas to the cells below. I prefer not to have tweets going out in my afternoon, as most of my followers are in bed then, so I’ll manually input a new date and time in one cell when the ‘formula time’ was the afternoon. This breaks the formula and I can input a more appropriate time. The cells after this one still contain the formula, so it continues onwards.
Randomize Your Order
Sometimes I’ll have a batch of tweets that I want to send out a few times. When I do this, I prefer to randomize the order of these tweets. Again, there’s a formula for this!
I use Excel for this (I’m not sure what the equivalent way is for Google docs or other spreadsheets). In Excel I go to the ‘Formula’ tab and then select the ‘Maths and Trig’ option – in the drop-down formulas is the RAND option. Clicking on it will insert the formula into the cell your mouse was in.
The formula will insert a random number between 0 and 1 in that cell. I use column D for this.
Insert this formula (you can copy from the original cell (D1) in all the rows where you have tweets. It will insert a random number so every row will have a random number.
I then use the ‘Data – Sort’ option to sort my rows – either from lowest to highest, or highest to lowest. It doesn’t matter which one you choose – what you’re wanting to do is mix up the order of the rows.
Once I’ve done this and re-sorted the rows, I delete the contents of Column D, save the csv file and upload it to Hootsuite.
Download My Sample Hootsuite csv File
Share this article to get access to my sample csv file. Just click one (or more) of the sharing buttons below.
How To Schedule Tweets – Over To You
So, you now know how to schedule tweets using Hootsuite. Remember, the ability to upload a csv file is only available in their Pro option, which I think is pretty good value when you consider the extra features it provides.
Do you have any questions about scheduling tweets? Is there anything that you’re unsure about when it comes to creating the csv file (remember to share this article using the buttons above to get access to my sample file.
Please leave a comment below to let me know what you thought about this article on How To Schedule Tweets Using Hootsuite.
And don’t forget to sign up for your free 30-day trial of Hootsuite Pro. Test it out and see for yourself how easy it is to schedule your tweets.
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