Using Twitter is really about the here and now. You find an interesting article, a cool picture, an awesome video, or maybe you just want to share something you’ve just realized or thought of. Either way, the way Twitter works, you’re supposed to open a client, write your tweet, send it, and repeat this sequence every time you want to share again. So yes, tweets can only have up to 140 characters, but the process can still get pretty time-consuming.
This leaves us with two main options: Become a Twitter addict, tweet every time you think of something or discover something cool, no matter where you are; or neglect your Twitter account, forget to update it for days or weeks, and miss sharing things you actually meant and wanted to share. It’s not black and white, of course, you might be somewhere in between, but in my experience, it mostly goes in these directions. The solution? Schedule tweets!
No, you’re not going to become a bot, and if you do it wisely, it’s still going to feel like a live and natural account. In addition, most Twitter analyzers provide best times to tweet depending on your followers. With a schedule, you can get the most impact for your tweets, and make sure most of your followers see them. Scheduling tweets is not hard – most of you have probably done it at least once. Here is a list of the best services, compared.
Buffer is a brilliant service that helps you figure out the best times to tweet according to your time zone, and lets you schedule up to 10 different tweets for those times (unlimited for paid accounts). Your tweets are kept in a buffer, and are sent on their way according to your schedule. Buffer also offers some analytics on updates you send through it, and you can find a handy Buffer button on numerous services such as Feedly, Pocket, Reeder, Instapaper, TweetCaster, and others.
There are also Buffer add-on’s available for Firefox and Chrome, and Buffer mobile apps for Android and iOS.
Buffer is not only for Twitter. You can use it to schedule updates on Facebook, LinkedIn and App.net as well.
Overall score: A+
Everyone’s heard of TweetDeck, but not everyone knows you can use it to schedule tweets in advance. TweetDeck is Twitter’s own client, and is available as a desktop client for Windows and Mac, a Chrome app, and was only recently discontinued as a a mobile app for iOS and Android. It’s a fully-fledged Twitter client you can use to tweet, read tweets, manage lists, favorites, etc. It also supports multiple accounts, but doesn’t support any additional social networks other than Twitter.
TweetDeck makes it easy to schedule tweets for later, but doesn’t help you decide which times to schedule them to. Click the clock icon on the tweet screen to set a date and time for your tweet. You can then view your scheduled updates in the Scheduled column
In the past, I had some issues with scheduled updates not being sent, but this is a rare occurrence, and seems to have been fixed since.
Overall score: A-
Further reading: 10 tips to help you use TweetDeck and Twitter more efficiently
HootSuite is another client that needs no introduction. It’s much more than a Twitter scheduler, and can be used as a centralized dashboard for all your social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+ Pages, LinkedIn, and more. It’s available as a Web app or a mobile app for Android, iOS and Blackberry. HootSuite includes a pretty awesome scheduler, which lets you flexibly schedule updates to any date and time you want.
Alternatively, you can use HootSuite’s own algorithms, and let it schedule them for you using its AutoSchedule feature. This feature uses your own data to determine the best time to tweet for optimal impact. HootSuite is a powerful tool, and makes it easy and convenient to schedule tweets. If you’re just looking for a way to schedule your updates, though, it might be a bit of an overkill.
Overall score: A
If apps and clients are not really your thing, or you want to be able to schedule tweets from absolutely anywhere (with an Internet connection), Dopo.io could be the solution for you. With Dopo.io, you get to schedule up to 15 tweets through a simple email. All you have to do is connect your Twitter account, set up to 4 times a day to send your tweets, and get your unique email address.
To schedule a new tweet, email this address, write “buffer” in your subject line, and write your tweet in the email body. It will automatically be scheduled for the next available time slot. You can schedule several tweets in one email by separating them with an empty line. If you change your mind, you can log on to Dopo.io and erase your tweets.
There are some drawbacks to the service: For some reason, you can only schedule tweets to full hours (i.e., 9:00, 13:00, 22:00), times are in UTC only, you cannot re-order your tweets once they’re scheduled, and there’s no built-in way to shorten URLs. The service is very basic, and might not be enough by itself, but it’s a great way to be able to send updates to Twitter when you have access to nothing else.
Overall score: B
Twuffer is a combination between Buffer and an in-client scheduler such as TweetDeck’s. It’s a stand-alone Web app that can be used only to schedule tweets and track the tweets you’ve sent. Using Twuffer is pretty straightforward: Write your tweet, set a date and time and hit “Schedule Tweet”. The only important thing you have to do is set your time zone before you start scheduling, otherwise Twuffer won’t know which times you mean.
Twuffer’s interface is simple but not the prettiest, you can only schedule tweets on times rounded to 5 minutes (i.e., 10:05, 23:45, 12:25), and it doesn’t have a built-in URL shortener. On the other hand, it does let you sort your scheduled and sent tweets in several ways. If you’re looking for a simple solution that doesn’t involve any apps or clients, but does let you track your tweets and schedule many of them, give Twuffer a spin.
Overall score: B
LaterBro is another Web app dedicated solely to scheduling updates, but this one supports Facebook updates too. LaterBro is similar to Twuffer, but includes a built-in URL shortener, which is a nice addition. In theory, you can add more than one Twitter account to LaterBro, but I couldn’t get this to work. To schedule tweets you need to first set your time zone, and then start entering your tweets and setting dates and times.
LaterBro has a nice interface for setting your time, but if you want something more precise such as 18:32, you can enter it manually and press enter. It won’t work if you enter this time and click on “Schedule”. Below the update box, you’ll find a list of your scheduled tweets complete with dates and times. All in all, it’s a nice way to schedule updates, especially if you’re using it for Facebook as well.
Overall score: B+
Further reading: 5 free methods to schedule Facebook updates
Which Should You Choose?
According to my scores, this is the final order, from best to worst:
This doesn’t mean Buffer is the right solution every time, but it’s an excellent service that can be combined with many others to create the perfect experience. If you have special requirements, such as a client that can schedule tweets, a very simple interface, or the ability to schedule by email, choose one of the other options.
How do you schedule your tweets? Which is the best service? Or do you think tweets should not be scheduled at all? Share in the comments.
Image credit: clock image via Shutterstock