The Woes of Scheduled Content

Do you know what I love about Times Square? The buzz. The activity. The lights. The action.

Day or night, the half block in Manhattan is filled with people from all corners of the globe. It’s constantly moving, breathing, and shifting. For an extrovert like me, Times Square is bliss.

There’s a dark side to all the action, however. Do you know what it is? The non-stop influx of marketing messages.

The signs hanging above the Square provide a visual backdrop for the action. They’re “detached” advertising—almost serving as works of art.

But the “beauty” gives way to the street-level vendors selling their $2 tchotchkes and Rolex knock-offs. The in-your-face advertising quickly becomes intrusive, unwanted, and ubiquitous.

Many of our social media feeds are becoming the digital version of Times Square.

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a HUGE influx of scheduled or “buffered” links in the accounts I follow. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of Buffer. They’ve done an amazing job at crafting a product, educating their community, and resourcing any and all comers.

The problem is not with Buffer. Or Hootsuite. Or Sprout Social. Or any other service that helps us strategically schedule our content.

The problem creeps in when we think scheduling a bunch of links will somehow, magically, create social media momentum for us. When we fill our social networks with nothing but scheduled content, we become digital tchotchke peddlers, adding to the noise instead of rising above it.

Here’s the thing: everyone is scheduling links now. It’s a commodity. Just take one look at your feed and you’ll see what I mean. The telltale sign is usually a shortened “buff.ly” link pointing to a blog post or website.

Either way, the scheduled content is on the rise (and I’m not convinced that’s a good thing).

The problem is not with the scheduling. I use this strategy often. I think you should too. The problem is when we go on autopilot for the duration of our flight.

Many of us schedule links, abandon our post for the majority of the day, and then come back disappointed at the progress. report:

“No new follows? No retweets? Why isn’t anyone liking my page? It’s Facebook’s fault for making me pay to reach my fans! ZUCKERBERG!”

The question you need to answer is this: “How am I going to stand out from the crowd?” A good way to ensure you rise above the rest is mix up your content. Follow this formula:

  1. 20% Curated Content. Content created by other people related to your industry or passion area. This can be scheduled.
  2. 20% Created Content. Content created by you or your team related to your industry or passion area. This can be scheduled.
  3. 60% Audience Engagement. Responding to the human beings in your online community and treating them like real people. This cannot be scheduled.

You won’t hit it all the time, but you’re much more likely to get there if you have a target to shoot for.

The last time I was in Times Square, do you know who got my attention?

It wasn’t the giant billboards people paid a gajillion dollars to be on. It wasn’t the crappy purse knock-offs some folks were selling on the street.

It was a man, dressed up as Spiderman, who saw I was with my son and came up to us and convinced us to come into Toys R Us and pay for a picture with him. Creepiness aside, it was his one-on-one engagement that landed the sale.

In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, “You can’t automate the human spirit.” How, then, shall we proceed?

Finn got bashful, so yours truly got a picture with Spidey.

Finn got bashful, so yours truly got a picture with Spidey.