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Worst Scheduled Tweet Timing. Ever.

Social media runs in real-time. Real-fast real-time. If you want to play in the pool, you better be in the pool for the entire party.

Brands/people etc have looked foolish in the past when they’ve scheduled auto-tweets that get sent at bad times during world events like disasters, elections and otherwise.

However, this one from 30 minutes ago takes the cake.

There was a RadioHead concert scheduled tonight in Toronto at Downsview Park. Tragedy struck, and some of the staging collapsed before the show, where at least one person died and many more injured. Obviously the news spread like wildfire:

Obviously a horrible tragedy that has occurred at too many events this year.

LiveNation, the promoter for the event also tweeted that the show has been cancelled, so people would not head to the venue.

The problem being a half-hour later they sent another tweet, this one obviously pre-scheduled to get people to tweet about the show!

And right away they were getting nailed on Twitter:


Everyone makes mistakes, including people behind brands. This type of one is preventable. Stop scheduling tweets. They aren’t 60,000 word books, it’s 140 characters. If you can’t take the time to type them (10 seconds) and be there when they send, don’t send them at all.

The problem is LiveNation wanted the benefit of people tweeting about a show in real-time, without actually being there in real time themselves. That tweet sat there for about 45 minutes before somebody took it down. That’s about 45 days in Internet time.

Our hearts here at UnMarketing go out to the family of the victim and those who were injured.

(Thank-you to Benjamin for bringing this first to my attention)


  • Sandy Adam

    I am SO not a fan of scheduled tweets. This is a great case in point! You can’t engage if you’re not present.

  • “If you can’t take them time to type them (10 seconds) and be there when they send, don’t send them.” Amen.

    Also, great article. Too bad you had to write it.

  • Mary

    The only ones I schedule are inspirational quote type tweets. Never event tweets or anything requiring a response. Also, I get notifications of @ messages and retweets on my phone (always with me), so it’s easy to respond timely if someone reacts to a scheduled tweet, even though I am not actively on Twitter in the moment.

    Mostly, though, I love being right in the middle of stuff. Unfortunately, I haven’t been on Twitter in a while (other stuff going on making it hard to find time to engage).

  • Heather

    Wow. Just wow.

  • I once saw someone’s tweets from their wedding. I’m going to HOPE the Tweets were pre-scheduled & they weren’t actually Tweeting while going down the aisle, but either way I think it was taking social media a bit too far.

  • NO scheduled tweets, facebook updates, etc… Seriously, how ‘engaged’ do you look if it says ‘Sent via Hootsuite’… People are not idiots, they pick up on the marketing speak… Dough heads…

    • Just because a tweet is sent via Hootsuite doesn’t mean it’s a scheduled tweet.

      • MattHirschfelt

        Exactly! I use HootSuite is my primary method of keeping up with and responding to multiple social media accounts. Just because I post from HootSuite doesn’t mean I scheduled the tweet. When will people learn this?

        • Yup. Agreed. It should be viewed like Tweetdeck.

    • Sent via Hootsuite just denotes the client used. There are dozens of clients. You can’t tell by the client used if it was scheduled or not.

      But I agree with NOT scheduling tweets.

      • Sent via Twitterfeed or Buffer does signify scheduled or automated though.

        • With Twitterfeed, yes…but not necessarily with Buffer. If I find an article I want to share, I often tweet it immediately but through Buffer because I like the analytics page attached to their URL shortener. You can “Post now” with Buffer.

        • Not always, Scott. I often use buffer to send something right now as I’m reading it (oh, like this post, for example), but it allows me to track the clicks/link sharing easier for me than through

    • Sent from Hootsuite – thats my primary platform and none of my messages from there are scheduled – they are all “live”.

  • Well, stop hiring intern talent to run your social media and you will avoid PR diasters like these. Talent comes at a cost.

    • What does being an intern have to do with it? Many people do this – in fact many social media experts advocate it.

      Bad idea however.

      • None of these experts have actual experience in risk management, brand management and pr. Again, this space is full of folks with no back ground in actual business. You don’t have analyst relations being dealt by interns, why this?

        Bilal Jaffery

        • It’s a rookie mistake, but even executives make that kind of “LET’S AUTOMATE EVERYTHING” mistake. I don’t think you can blame JUST interns for that kind of oversight.

          • You said it — rookie mistake. Large brands and their agencies should stop outsourcing social to their most inexpensive talent. I have led social strategy at Fortune 500 and now one of the largest telcoms in the country — I would never risk my social to rookies. In this space, as you can see from the post here, people aren’t forgiving of mistakes by corporations. Social media is all about risk management at that level.

            A seasoned professional would’ve been on top of this. The difference is talent. Experience teaches a thing or two — rookies have no job in being the ‘voice’ of the brand without experience, training and understanding of more than ‘social’ when it comes to business.

          • Some of the worst mistakes are being made by seasoned PR pro’s. The ones who think “social” is just another megaphone. They are less equipped to deal with a Twitter/Facebook avalanche than my 11 year old.

          • Nathan Landau

            @unmarketing:disqus Well said. It’s not the pr or business experience, it’s knowledge of the systems in play, and being aware enough to get ahead of them. Who do you think is more likely to overlook an automated tweet, a busy-to-the-bones executive who wields social like a firehose, or a user who has grown up with the tools in use?

            @bilaljaffery:disqus People are terribly forgiving of corporations. They just love to get a little griping in while they can.


          • Exactly — huge difference between PR folks and Social Media Savvy PR folks. I think the catch is to get someone who gets this medium and those aren’t going to be your PR/Communications folks. It will be that web guy who has always used the internet to communication — even before social media came to be.

            There aren’t any black and white rules in social media — it’s all about context.

          • Social Media has been around for a couple of years… how can ANYONE be an “expert”. This term used to be applied to someone with decades of experience. Therefore, we all learn via trial/error. Those “interns” probably have more social experience than their managers, but not as much planning/foresight business experience. People make mistakes- learn, and hopefully move on.

          • Social Media in its current form — maybe. But web has been social ever since it’s conception — think BBS, Forums, IRC. People expect a certain behaviour online and social media without business acumen is just time-waste.

            It’s an excuse to offload this medium to the cheapest talent and then complain that ROI hasn’t been seen. What you need are folks who have done ‘web’ and can translate your business goals into a social construct. There is a reason why top strategists, specially, in corporations are all 10+ years of experience.

            Ofcourse, there are exceptions but given that I am very actively looking for talent this space, I haven’t seen much top strategic thinking talent at intern level.

  • I lost all respect for Guy Kawasaki when his relentless auto-tweeting went on in the wake of Steve Jobs death. As a former Apple exec you’d think he could have silenced it for awhile.

    • You do know that Guy was only at apple for like 4 years? He plays that into positioning himself as Apple’s founding team. #puremarketing

  • *sighs* When will people learn Scott?

  • tommytrc

    So poorly done… We had an event here in Wisconsin where all the tweets for a conference were pre-scheduled and 40 of them fired in the span of 5 minutes. So Classy!

  • Benjamin Bach

    Thx for the hat tip Scott, I thought you’d have something to say about this.

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  • Scheduling tweets can add much needed consistency to a brand’s social media presence. There simply needs to be a protocol in place so that auto-posting is taken down when an event like this occurs. That’s where professionalism comes in.

    • “quality tweets can add much needed consistency to a brand’s social media presence”

      Fixed that for ya

      • tjyoung

        Beautifully said.

      • OF COURSE quality tweets. We have everything connected to our phones also so that we CAN respond. My point is that there can be balance, consistency, and professionalism that includes scheduled tweets. I don’t think we should throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    • Aly Lake

      I get frustrated when someone says something really prolific and I respond to it, only to hear back 8 hours later when the person is actually “online”. If you aren’t there to have a conversation, why bother at all?

      • I dunno… I actually understand that the person may not be online when I respond. What if I respond an hour later? I think the whole idea of online engagement is that it can be extended across time at the participants’ convenience.

  • Randy Bowden

    Great post and as usual great insight to put into practice, now!

  • This would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic. Awkward times a thousand.

  • Yikes. If this doesn’t get brands to start reconsidering automation, I don’t know what will. Because, in the wake of a crisis, nobody is going to remember to go in and start deleting scheduled tweets. Best to avoid the practice altogether.

    But, here’s the question: will LiveNationON stop this practice? I bet dollars to donuts that they won’t.

  • Julie Hall

    I’m going to disagree – I love buffer… I read blog posts late at night and like to share content during the day when most of my audience are online. If I don’t buffer it or schedule it, it won’t get shared as I move on to other things.

    I get that mistakes like the one above are a potential risk, but I think scheduling tweets CAN be useful and engaging. I also schedule promotional tweets telling people about my workshops – currently about 10% of my bookings are via scheduled facebook and twitter posts. And we have recently started tweeting quotes, which I know is really old hat, but the thing is people love it! We’ve had loads of retweets and it has increased our weekly follower count and facebook engagement massively since we started.
    I think sharing value doesn’t mean that I have to be there in person to deliver it.

  • Doesn’t seem as if Bilal is blaming interns. “Stop hiring intern talent” places the blame on the people who build social media programs and hire and train talent, not on the social media people themselves. This particular story is probably more a case of poor planning, sloppiness and lack of oversight, but I agree that companies get what they pay for if they hire social media people who lack the context and experience to represent the company.

    • Thank you. It’s about not outsourcing the most important aspect of your brand presence to mere inexperience (think: cheap) talent. That just means that you aren’t taking it seriously nor even consider part of your overall strategic brand strategy. I have yet to meet a Corporate Spokesperson who is an intern. 😉

      That’s why I don’t hire interns to do social. I will coach the best talent but I don’t allow them to manage it on their own, specially as a brand strategist. I also ensure that my agencies don’t do the same. Social is all about risk management.

  • As always the critical factor in any client-facing activity is the person doing it. Anyone savvy enough to comprehend the importance of that twitter interaction would have made the call immediately to stop the automated tweets. If you’re automating b/c you don’t have enough resources devoted to the conversation, perhaps should converse less.

  • I’m not sure I follow (no pun intended) the thought that you shouldn’t automate parts of your content. Yes, mistakes happen and you need to know what is scheduled and intervene, or adapt as necessary, but is automation really that offensive?

    As a community manager I’ve both scheduled posts and jumped online for 10 seconds to post something late at night with no intention of monitoring the engagement until the next morning. Does that make my post that much more “authentic?” (this is more a response to the discussion than the post, great find Scott)

  • tjyoung

    I think if you schedule, your a sham. I don’t want to read your pre-conjured gibberish. I’d like to pretend/think that the thought just crossed your mind and you were compelled to write something useful and informative at the moment, which is what this is supposed to be all about.

  • The accident was tragic, of course, but I don’t see that a mistaken autotweet was so terrible or unforgivable. These kinds of tweets are instantly recognizable as impersonal announcements, not so different from a poster for the concert. Under similar circumstances a poster might seem ironic, but wouldn’t evoke outrage.

    But, yeah, it’s good advice to keep track of your autotweets.

    • While I do agree with this, it isn’t as cut-and-dry as you might think. It’s an “apples and oranges” thing in that printed posters and social media serve entirely different purposes. “The medium is the message,” a concept that is nearly 50 years old, still fits because messages passed via social media and those passed via posters reach audiences in very different ways. The appeal of social media is the very fact that it’s instant and friendlier, and marketers need to be more mindful of that.

      That said, I agree that this isn’t completely unforgivable, and as mentioned, outrage often passes quickly. Fickle people 😉

      (Note: I’m not the one who marked your comment down, just putting in my .02)

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  • A terrible tragedy, and too bad that LiveNationON wasn’t on the ball. A mistake, but I’m not sure it deserves such outrage.

    We live in an imperfect world. I’d be willing to bet everyone on in this discussion thread has probably messed up in some way, some time. (BTW Scott, the day after your webinar on “giving great customer service” I tweeted you asking when the replay was, but I never got a reply. I did consider tweeting a sarcastic remark about the irony of it, but let it go.)

    Social media isn’t single-faceted, and just like other marketing, there isn’t just one answer.

    You’re right that too many people do automate and cross-post, where the link or reference is no longer appropriate – that I agree is lazy, and frustrating for readers. One super-popular inspirational author tweets, posts to Facebook, and blogs all about the same thing, and probably in his newsletters as well. “Repurposing” content is common.
    Sharing status updates on autopilot without ever monitoring them for comments or questions, IMO is bad conduct.
    I don’t automate that much, but when I spend an hour a few times a week reading blog posts and articles, I could bombard my twitterfeed with retweets, or clutter my Facebook newsfeed, or I could spread them out. With a blog post that isn’t time-sensitive there is no reason it has to be NOW or NOTHING.
    Yes, conversations should take place in real time. But sharing other info is like going to the library or your bookshelf – the info is still valid even a month later. Just like watching a webinar replay. If it’s scheduled, does it make it less valuable? Isn’t it better to share it – both for the author in terms of building influence and Edgerank – and for the people who eventually read it and gain something from it.

    Not everyone is connected in real time. I do monitor mentions, and reply, via Hootsuite. Personally, I don’t check my phone for new FB messages or tweets. I hate sitting at a dinner out, or lunch meeting, or movie, with people who are not able to be real-time in-the-moment offline as well as online. When people are totally tuned in online, they are missing opportunities in the offline world.

    It’s unrealistic to apply a “one-size fits all” formula to social media, or any business.

  • I don’t think stopping scheduled tweets is the answer here, think baby and bath water and throwing.
    Also is it really that bad? It was an unintentional mistake…the PR guy/gal was probably being slammed from a thousand different media organisaions after reports of the death…so they forgot about their scheduled tweet for 45 minutes. Obviously a big cock up…an apology, and admission of fault for the tweet straight after would have been helpful. The real cock up is hiring who ever was responsible for the safety of the stage-construction workers.

  • Is the problem the scheduling of the tweets or the error they made in not covering all their bases when such a horrible situation occured? Certainly Scott, you have used prescheduled emails at some point or another, right? The same thing could happen by email, but most people have no problem with the idea of an autoresponder.

    • Different beast. But also a good point on not sending it out when a world event occurs.

      A tweet looks like you’re live, sitting there sending it.

  • Oh gosh – this is an awful story – so sad that people died and were injured.

    I have just got into Buffer and I’m guessing that as I won’t be “buffering” events, just some blog posts about interesting stuff, that it will be ok to schedule.

    I can see how scheduling something that is going live is a no no though.

    Thanks for sharing on

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  • patrickdh

    Get real, as if in tragedy as that – all people have to think about is switching off their automated tweets. People can still think in real-time.

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  • I agree and disagree. I think it is important to strike a balance. I rarely schedule my tweets, as I prefer the “excitement” of tweeting in the moment. However I can understand why some would do it. You just have to be careful.

  • I’m not in total agreement with you regarding not scheduling tweets. At 49digital, we schedule around 50% of our tweets for example, tip of the day, company news and content that we want to share at a certain time. The remainder is made up of interesting articles, links and great content that we come across during the day. However, tweeting live news stories is different and, in this case, someone should have been on to it – and quick!

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  • Sheree

    Pinterest button?

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  • Helen Stepchuk

    OMG, people! Seriously?? This is like a celebration of someone’s mistake here! What would have been horrible if they prescheduled something like this “Oh, I am having so much fun at the concert… Are you?” THAT WOULD BE BAD! Yes, it’s unfortunate that they let it slip and did not manage their pre-schdueld tweets properly, BUT that’s just the nature of the beast. Use common sense, be real (AND THIS IS THE REAL STUFF) and do not judge others… Namaste!

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  • I don’t agree that scheduling little reminder Tweets like this is bad practice. I look at them like those texts you get from the airline letting you know if your flight is on time. I don’t need a person to call me live to tell me that, and I have no intention of beginning a conversation as a result. But I like the reminder.

    To me, the blunder here is the priority that this company seems to have given their social media. They are in broadcast mode. If they placed a high enough priority on their social media to make it at least one person’s full time job, stopping scheduled posts would have been the first response of that person. And only companies that are in engagement mode (vs broadcast mode) have at least one full time person working on social media.

    It is time for organizations to understand social media is a conversation. It isn’t necessary to treat every single post as a live conversation (just most of them).

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  • No argument here.

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