How Timed Tweets Can Distract From Your Message

Originally Posted on 2010-Sept-18 (An old post but with events in the news as they are it still remains relevant, unfortunately.)

There are several software options for people to use to interact with Twitter and manage their posts.  Some of the more popular interfaces allow you to create Tweets and have time flagged for a delayed or a timed post.  While this is beneficial to prevent bursts of Tweets that can dilute the impact of the individual Tweets it can also have unintended consequences.

Recently there was a shooting at the Johns Hopkins campus that made national news.  There was a rash of erroneous information that was sent out over the net.  To the credit of the Hospital system they did utilize their Twitter stream, @JohnsHopkins, to distribute information for the public and the Johns Hopkins community.

However, they also had some timed tweets that were sent out during the incident and distracted from the messages about the tragedy.  There was even some outcry from followers.

@JohnsHopkins did respond that this was due to timed Tweets that were continuing to fire as they were placed prior to the incident.

Judging by the time stamps there were several Tweets that “escaped” during the ongoing events that were of national interest.  This dilution of the impact of the tragedy Tweets could have been avoided by canceling the timed Tweets and focusing the message on the ongoing events.

The first thing to be done would have been to eliminate the timed Tweets once the shooting occurred and the decision was made to use Twitter to distribute information.  However, there could have been a problem depending on the software that was used to create the timed Tweets.

I suspect that timed Tweets were stopped once they realized what was going on as there is a long gap in the timeline.  Once again this is a new area that organizations are moving into and processes and methods need to be refined.  Errors like this can serve to modify how we all use Twitter and other Social Media venues, but only if we pay attention and learn from them.  I am sure @JohnsHopkins has learned this valuable lessons, as have I.