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Twitter: Tools to Use It

Now that we’ve learned to write tweets for Twitter, it’s time to take it to the next level.

Obviously if you have a life, the last thing you want to do is sit for hours sending out tweets.  Worse, I think as an intermediate effort, I don’t think Twitter is very effective.  You have to have a presence on Twitter–not post once in awhile about what you just ate for supper.

And it is really difficult to find blocks of time to tweet consistently.  Maybe some can.  For me, that was a major uphill battle.

So I went out and found some tools to help.

One is called Tweetdeck.  I know friends who use it and love it.  So please feel free to check it out.  I don’t use that one much and don’t know the intricacies of how it works and what it can do.  But it is one option.

Then there’s Social Oomph.  Social Oomph costs $30 a month.  The benefit of Social Oomph is being able to “spin” tweets.  Basically you make a post with say 5 tweets in it.  Then you schedule that post to shuffle and run every hour (or two or six or whatever).  SO chooses one of those five and sends it out every hour.  This can be really great if you literally want to set it and forget it.  Also, it will run either indefinitely or for a set amount of time, in case you have a campaign that lasts a week and then you want those tweets taken down.

However, SO can be expensive especially if you are just starting out.

For $6 a month, you can go with Hootsuite, which is the program I learned and the one I’m still using.

You can do Hootsuite for free, but if so, you only get the manual upload, which means pasting each tweet in separately and scheduling a time.  This is almost as time consuming as sitting there sending out individual tweets, with the one exception that you could do them all at once and then leave it be.

If, however, you have $6 a month, I recommend learning to bulk upload through Hootsuite.

I will be the first to admit that it is not an easy process to learn, but once you get it, it will free up many hours of your valuable time.

If you are interested in doing the bulk uploading through HS, here’s how (get out the aspirin!):

Advanced Hootsuite Tweeting (Bulk Upload)

If you have the pro version of Hootsuite ($6 a month), you can do bulk uploading of tweets.

Step 1

Create a new document in Excel.  You will only be using the first two columns.

Column A is the date and time formatted as:  dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm  so that Oct. 9, 2011 at 6:30 a.m. would read 09/10/2011 06:30

The date and time HAVE to be in this form (with all leading zeros intact) or your upload will not work!  I will show you how to do that in a little bit.  And the time has to be in increments of 5.  So 04:15 not 04:18.

If Excel changes this format (and it will try), you will have to click:

The arrow number format section where it usually says “General”

More Number Formats (at the bottom)

Next Click “Custom”

Then in the “Type” box that now says “General,” type this: dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm  (those letters and symbols NOT your date).  Then click “Okay.”

 

In Cell A2, type this formula:

=A1+TIME(0,25,0)

 

This means that the date and time in A2 is relative to A1 and will advance 25 minutes.  And advance of 1 hour and 30 minutes would look like this:

=A1+TIME(1,30,0)

 

Then copy and paste that formula in A3, A4, etc. for as many tweets as you have to schedule.  This prevents you from having to retype in every date and time each time you do a new spreadsheet (as tomorrow your date will change!).

To change the advance of any of the times down the spreadsheet, just click on that cell and replace the time there with the time you want.  So to go from 1:30 minute intervals to 15 minute intervals, you would make it look like this:

=A1+TIME(0,15,0)

 

Column B is the actual tweet.  Remember, you still only have 140 characters, and Hootsuite will not take any of your upload if even one tweet is too long.  You can use hashtags and @’s, but don’t start a tweet with an @, Excel will not accept it.

 

Step 2

You are now going to write your tweets.

Open a Word document and write your tweets.  (This sounds like an unnecessary extra step, but later on you will be glad to have this to refer back to.)  When I did this, I listed each book and the corresponding URLs for that book.  For example:

Cowboy

Staci Stallings  http://ow.ly/79VkM Amazon   http://ow.ly/7afqI
Free Preview   http://ow.ly/7boLb Nook    http://ow.ly/7boIo

 

This is for my book COWBOY.  The “Staci Stallings” link is to my bookshelf which gives the Kindle and Nook and in Print links as well as a blurb and pic of the book.

“Amazon” is the direct link to the Kindle version

“Nook” is the direct link to the Nook version

“Free Preview” is the link to Your Book Authors, which gives a free preview of the book.

Then I can mix and match these with the review-blurbs and hashtags like this:

“One of the most gripping contemporary romances I’ve read in the past three years…” COWBOY #99Cents  http://ow.ly/7boLb #FreePreview

“From beginning to end, Cowboy is a truly inspiring novel.” COWBOY #99Cents #Kindle http://ow.ly/7afqI #Christian

Now that you have some tweets written (you need about 5 or 6 for your first test run experiment). Copy and paste them into the Excel Spreadsheet with the dates and times ready.

Step 3

Save your Excel spreadsheet as Test Run #1

Make sure your dates and times are at least 10 minutes from now.

Make sure you have only your tweets in Column B and nothing else on the spreadsheet.

Please note:  You can NEVER have a double tweet that is exactly the same as one in the Hootsuite system at one time.  If you have to do several that are close, change the hashtags or move things around.  Tweets that are exactly the same, even a few hours apart will not be accepted until the first one has run and is gone.

To get around this issue, plan to create separate Tweet Templates Spreadsheets, each with different tweets from the others.  For me, I label them A, B, C.   On Monday, I upload A.  Tuesday B.  Wednesday C.  So that on Thursday  can do A again and it doesn’t double up any tweets.

Step 4 (on your second run and beyond; skip this step for your first run)

Replace the date. (On subsequent runs, you will have to replace the date. Skip this step if it is your first time through.)

When you have to change the date and time in Column A to reflect when you want these new tweets to start running, here is how.  Remember, Hootsuite will not run anything less than 10 minutes from when you upload it. Also, the time has to be divisible by 5.  So 4:15, not 4:19.

Put your cursor into A1.

Change the date you want it to be by retyping what is there or by deleting and retyping.

Set the times you want

Everything after A1 is relative.  Remember the formula looks like this:

=A1+TIME(0,25,0)

What this means is that you take the time in A1 and go forward 25 minutes.

If it said (1,25,0), that would be 1 hour, 25 minutes.

THESE MUST BE IN 5 MINUTE INCREMENTS.  Hootsuite will not accept anything else.

Format the date and time if necessary.

Excel is just bizarre on this point, so stick with me, you’re almost there.

For some unknown reason, Excel does not like leading zeros, and Hootsuite doesn’t accept a bulk upload without them.

So look at the dates and times in Column A.  If they are not formatted like this:

dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm

you HAVE to fix them.

To do so, highlight all of Column A.  Go up to Format, and click “More Number Formats.”  Then click Custom.

In the box marked “Type:”  type in:  dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm  (those letters and symbols, not the actual date and time).

This should reformat all of Column A as needed. (And you may have to do this every time… until Excel believes you are serious. Sorry. I’ve found no way around this one!)

 

Step 5

Finally you are ready to tackle uploading.

First, save the spreadsheet somewhere on your system that you can find it in an Excel Document as Test Run #1.  Save it as a spreadsheet first.

Now resave it as a CSV (comma-separated value).  To do this, simply click Save As.  Scroll to the bottom to “Other formats.”

Now under Save As Type, click that to get the list of other types of files to save it as.  Find “CSV” on the list and click that.

Excel will probably protest twice, but simply click “Yes” each time.

 

Step 7 (this is it!)

Now go to Hootsuite.

In the Compose box, click the Scheduler and go down to “Try bulk upload.”

This will give you a dialogue box.  In the first Browse box, find the CSV file from your computer.  Select the twitter account you want to upload this to, and click Submit.

 

At this point, you will have to read and troubleshoot your spreadsheet.  Any problem in red is something that must be fixed before you can upload.  Fix and try again.

Possible issues:

Tweets that are too long. Shorten them.

Column A isn’t formatted correctly or the dates are not in the future.

You have double tweets with previous uploads. Change some part of your tweet and try again.

 

Fix whatever issues show up and try again.

If Hootsuite simply says it didn’t upload, the problem is you tried to upload the Excel doc rather than the CSV.  Try the CSV.

 

If all the tweets go through and are scheduled, it will say “You have successfully uploaded X number of tweets.”

If you get that message, do a cartwheel because you’ve mastered something very few ever do!

 

Some additional notes:

* You can send up to 50 tweets to the bulk uploader at a time.

* You can schedule no more than 200 messages scheduled through uploader at a time, and you cannot duplicate a tweet that is presently scheduled. (Once it runs, you can then reschedule even on the same day.)

* If you sent a tweet yesterday and it’s still in the queue, you cannot duplicate it today.  So I set up three basic spreadsheets A, B, C and I rotate them to avoid this problem.

 

We’ll talk more about spreadsheets next time!  Good luck!

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