Set it and forget it? Three rules for pre-scheduling posts.

by Jennifer Kuenzer, TrizCom PR

The age of social media has been called “the new wild west” and that’s a pretty accurate description when you consider that reputations, jobs and entire lives have been destroyed with a single tweet.

With a business that regularly engages with the public, it’s crucial that your message be carefully crafted and sensitive to what is happening in “real time,” which can be challenging when social media posts are increasingly pre-scheduled. And while pre-scheduled posts can be invaluable in maintaining engagement, they can be trickier to manage than they appear.

“Pre-scheduled” makes people think “Easy! I can schedule and then go about my business!” But Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s recent screw-up on Twitter after the tragic mass shooting in Orlando is a perfect example of why scheduling and forgetting is, at best, ill-advised. Because after your post goes live, “It was pre-scheduled” is just not good enough. Twitter doesn’t care, and Twitter will hit back – hard. Twitter will make sure the news goes national, and it can take a lot of work to bounce back, if you or your brand can manage to bounce back at all.

Now personally, I like to have a range (minimum one, maximum three) of daily posts for TrizCom on Facebook and LinkedIn, and three or more forTwitter. To make sure I get at least one post per day, I will pre-schedule, but I never “schedule and forget it.” I follow three basic rules when it comes to pre-scheduling posts.

First, a pre-scheduled post should be general yet specific to the client and their brand, and kept light and positive. Nothing you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time engaging in or responding to. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t have been pre-scheduling it in the first place.

Second, pre-schedule during hours of the day where you can re-check about 15 minutes before the post goes live, meaning nothing very early in the morning or very late at night. You’ll want to make sure the post is still relevant, and that nothing has happened between the time it was scheduled and the time it posts that makes it insensitive, incorrect or offensive. This includes any hashtags used in the post; make sure that hashtag isn’t trending on Twitter negatively or in response to a tragedy.

Third, if something does go live that coincides with an unexpected event and results in some backlash, have a plan for how you’re going to handle it. Respond quickly and honestly, and be transparent.

The most predictable thing about life is that it’s so unpredictable. So, yes, pre-schedule posts. Just use care and common sense, revisit before it goes live, and when scheduling 7AM Sunday Bible verses, maybe stick to the “glad verses” (as Pollyanna called them), just in case.

And for you TL;DR types: Post wisely, friends.

Jennifer Kuenzer is a Digital Specialist and Archivist for TrizCom Public Relations.