Have you got your homework? Are you going to spend Sunday evening scheduling a week’s worth of Tweets before retiring to bed confident that no matter what else happens at least you have maintained your social media presence?

Automating tweets leave you free to get on with work without pesky interruption. This is fine if you are adding value but more often automated tweets are easily identifiable as such, distinguished by such features as a link to an article or your blog post. I’ll probably have already seen both – your blog promoted incessantly (also automated to share via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) and I’m already following the source of the article. But you would know that already, if you knew who I was.

Successful Twitter conversations tend to be around what is new or about having an opinion, which means knowing your target audience. This goes back to knowing your followers, and sadly the automated tweet often comes from the indiscriminate Twitter user. They’re more interested in getting more followers (hey it’s a popularity contest and all about quantity not quality, goes the theory), missing the point which is to engage.

They see social media as a task to tick off a lengthy To Do list.  It’s about maximising productivity by using HootSuite, Tweetdeck or whatever (insert latest social media management tool), to push out sales messages and links to articles.

It misses the entire point of social media, which is to have a conversation.

Automated tweets do have their place – to reach an audience in a different time zone, for example. If I’ve missed a Tweet the first time because I was asleep whilst an American expert wanted to share industry insight, I’ll be interested if it’s sent out two or three times over 24 hours.

But make auto tweets the exception not the rule. Do your homework first and listen to what is being said before deciding how you can contribute.  Why do you want to use Twitter? Is it to secure sales, gain customer feedback or drive traffic to  your website? Unless you’re engaging on Twitter you’ll soon lose followers. If you want to make noise in an empty room, automating is the way to go.

But what do I know? Tell me your thoughts.