Twitter is all about personalization, accountability, transparency… everything that automation isn’t. Still, there are some cases where automating part of your Twitter account is actually beneficial – as long as you know when and what to automate.

Finding the time to log onto Twitter every hour or so, send out a thoughtful tip on productivity, an interesting link on the future of your industry or retweeting an influencer in your niche is tough.

And if you’ve got any other responsibility in your life other than managing your social media presence, it’s nearly impossible.

Twitter demands that we are very active, especially compared to Facebook. On Facebook, it’s OK to post to your page or profile once a day, or even less often. But on Twitter, you’ve got to tweet 5, 10, 25 times a day to stay relevant and make sure not all of your tweets are lost in your followers’ constantly churning timelines.

And that’s where automation comes in.

There are several tools available to you that will not only help you maintain an active Twitter account, but that also ensure you’re maintaining the “social” part of social information sharing.

Automating your Twitter feed can be a useful approach if you find yourself in one of two situations:

1) You’re overwhelmed with trying to remember to log onto Twitter.com at least once an hour and send out a tweet, or
2) You’re just about to throw your hands up because #1 is simply impossible to do

Getting a little help from third-party automation apps is nothing to be ashamed of. I use them, big names in social media like Gary Vaynerchuck use them, and newsmakers around the country use them.

But before you get too excited about clicking a single button and watching your Twitter account start tweeting amazing, relevant, timely content all on its own, there are a few caveats to using automation software:

  • You must intersperse your automated tweets in between your real-time, hand-written tweets
  • Unless you are creating a news aggregation Twitter account or RSS feed, you need to continue to be social even while automating – don’t forget to reply and retweet!
  • Too much automation will turn off followers, so use it sparingly
  • Automating the timing of your tweets is helpful, but automating the content decreases your account’s social nature and will likely scare off potential followers

If you’re ready to jump into adding a sprinkle of automation to your tweets, here are my suggestions for how to start out:

Sign up for HootSuite. This is by far one of the most powerful Twitter management tools out there. We’ve written before about how to use HootSuite in general and how to schedule and monitor using HootSuite, so check out these articles to get caught up on how great this tool is.

Using HootSuite, you can hand-write a batch of tweets (just make sure they’re “evergreen” i.e. the content won’t go stale if they’re not tweeted right away), and schedule them to go live sometime in the future. This is the best part of automation: the tweets themselves are written by you, but they’re automatically tweeted out at various intervals throughout the day or week.

Another tool you might want to try is Buffer. Buffer is even simpler to use than HootSuite, as it takes care of the scheduling for you. After signing up and installing it into your browser, all you have to do is click the “Buffer” button on an article you want to share, and it will automatically load the link and article title into an editable tweet box. Click “Buffer”, and that tweet will be loaded into a time slot that Buffer chooses for you.

There are other automation tools out there, but HootSuite and Buffer used in combination should help you maintain the personal touch that is so necessary on Twitter, while ensuring that content is constantly being sent from your account.

What other tools do you like to use to automate part of your tweeting? Let us know in the comments below.

(Robot on computer image via Shutterstock)