Social media is all about conversation. In true two-way conversation, automated messages are a huge no-no. I've even ranted about automatic Twitter direct messages in a previous post. So when it comes to automated tweets it's a no-brainer right? If you're going to be a true-blue social media participant, you aren't going to sell out to an automated tool. Should you utilize automated tweets?

Yes and no.

Call me a fence straddler if you'd like but there are times when, like any tool, automated tweets are appropriate and times when they are not. Take a sledgehammer for example. It too is a tool and there are times when it's appropriate to use a sledgehammer. There are also occasions when a sledgehammer is completely unecessary. So when are automated tweets unnecessary?

The auto-follow direct message.

One extremely annoying occurence is when you follow someone new on Twitter and within minutes you receive a new direct message in your inbox. After the "yay I got a private note!" butterflies fade, you read the note and see something generic like "Thanks for the follow. Check out _______ at (insert URL here)." This isn't genuine. As I've stated before, this isn't a two way communication. I've made attempts to beat these auto-followers at their own game and send a response, asking a direct question, thinking that they'll bite and a human would.

No cigar.

If you want someone to receive a private note from you, you should write it yourself. Even subtle name drops like "Hey Steve" instead of a generic "Hey" does so much for the contact that you are making with that person.

When is an automated, non-live tweet useful? Scheduled tweets.

Twitter isn't as much of what you post as much as when you post it. To post content that you want your target audience to see (friends, leads, clients, antelopes...) you have to post it when they are most likely online. There are many times when you may not be able to access Twitter to post things during those windows of target viewership (you know, like when you have to accomplish tangible work...or have  a meeting with a real person). This is where a function like scheduled tweets (like what Hootsuite offers) comes in handy. You can say what you need to say, share what you want to share, knowing that your intended audience receives that message.

Scheduled tweets or any other automated function shouldn't replace engagement but supplement it. Take time to check your stuff here and there and reply back to any mentions you may have received as a result of those tweets. After all, we still want to know that we're talking to a human.

What are your thoughts on tweet automation? All good, all bad, or a gray area?