Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Twitter Time Management Experiment

Are you following me on Twitter?

If you are one of my followers, then you likely have observed a few things:

  • I make an effort to respond to every tweet,
  • I tweet a lot,
  • I haven't automated anything on Twitter (even followbacks I manually do now),
  • and if you've had exchanges with me, you'll see I rarely am able to tweet in real time
As my follower base has increased and along with it, the incoming tweet load, I've run into a few problems:

  • Although I'm typically "light" on Twitter, I do take business seriously. There are often full days where I am on overload with work which prevents me from spending any time on Twitter. Since I work on the Internet, I also like taking downtime entirely away from the computer. Both of these things mean it is easy for me to get behind in responding to tweets. I've been as much as 2 weeks behind in responses at some points!
  • When I get far behind, I often have to resort to using search rather than Tweetdeck for responses. This means missing tweets from those tweeps who don't appear in search entirely.
  • For productivity purposes, it makes more sense for me - on those days I am able to tweet - to spend 1 or 2 solid chunks of time responding to tweets. The issue here is that I don't want to flood the stream of followers with responses. Also, Twitter has implemented a time-out period where if you tweet too much in a given time, you are unable to tweet for an hour (and sometimes more).
  • I've not been able to look as much at the streams of my friends because of time limitations.
  • I love live interactions/exchanges with people but with getting behind all the time in responses, it's rare that I'm able to engage in "real-time" like I used to.
For those of you that know me from Twitter or have been one of my coaching clients, you'll know that my philosophy has been to avoid automation. It defeats what is at the heart of social networking and social media. At the same time, the way I have been handling things simply isn't working for me. Twitter has turned more into a chore for me and something I have to do rather than something I want to do.

I don't want to change some parts of how I handle things. Primarily I want to make sure that I do respond to tweets. I know most other high volume users look at this differently but for me it is important. I don't want people to feel ignored. I really do care.

I'm going to be running an experiment for the next 7-10 days. I am going to schedule blocks of time to handle responses and use CoTweet to schedule sending them out on a staggered basis. I am hoping the benefit will be that I am able to interact overall with people more fluidly, that I will be able to engage in live exchanges and be more proactive in communications. I hope that this will work better for followers as well since they will no longer get hit with 50-100 tweets in a short period of time. The offside of this is that I will not always actually "be there" when people see me tweeting. I am hoping this doesn't cause too much confusion for people.

I believe transparency and being authentic are important in social media. By openly sharing what I am doing I hope that this adds to - rather than detracts - from the way I am seen in the community. The impact of this on my followers should be a positive one since I don't often have chances to converse in real time on Twitter to begin with.

I may post an update at some point on how this experiment works. Please DO post comments sharing what you think about this approach.