Sorry for the delay on getting this last part posted. So much for marketing & timing! This is part 3 of a 3-part series. Here are the links to the other articles in the series:
- Part 1 – What is a Tweet Campaign & Hootsuite
- Part 2 – Scheduling Tweets in Hootsuite
- Part 3 – Creating Your Tweet Campaign
Creating Your First Campaign
- Create a Hootsuite account (Hopefully, you've done this by now)
- Populate an MS Excel spreadsheet with your tweets (template below)
- Upload the spreadsheet into Hootsuite's Bulk Scheduler
- Sit back and relax, feeling accomplished *sigh*
Finding the Original Spreadsheet Template
As I stated, Hootsuite provides a template, and I'll show you how to get to that template. DO NOT follow these steps unless you're ready to actually start your 7-day trial. For now, just check out these screenshots and instructions. I have a modified spreadsheet you'll use instead (linked below).
- Login to your Hootsuite account and at the home page, click on the Scheduling icon in the “Compose message…” text box. This will completely expand the message window.
- Click on the “Try the bulk message uploader” just above the “Schedule” button (see Figure 1)
- The first time you do this, you'll get that message stating this is a pro function. Only click that 7-day trial link if you're ready. You'll then see the Bulk Schedule Updates window (see Figure 2)
- The circled link there at the bottom of that window is how you get their template. However, I do not recommend using it because it's just a spreadsheet with very little information. Instead, download zip file containing the spreadsheet I've modified: Arial's Hootsuite Spreadsheet Template.
Save that puppy somewhere safe, where you'll always find it. I've created a marketing folder for my writing and have a folder within that called “Hootsuite Campaigns”. You can keep your template in there, along with all the other campaigns you create.
Once you've saved your spreadsheet, you'll want to make sure you preserve your spreadsheet, so you can do one of two things: Perform a “File > Save As…” at the beginning of every campaign OR create an Excel spreadsheet template. If you'd like to learn how, visit YouTube and search for “how to create templates in MS Excel” and look for the videos that cover your version of MS Excel – 97, 2000, 2010, 2013…there are so many versions out there. Obviously, watch the video for the version you're on.
If you don't have MS Excel, you can download OpenOffice.org for FREE and use their “Calc” spreadsheet program. It also has a word processor and other programs that are all compatible with Microsoft Office. So if someone sends you an MS Word document, you'll not only be able to open it in OpenOffice, but you can still keep it in the *.doc file format. Or you can create a document within OpenOffice and convert it to *.doc.
How to Use Your Spreadsheet
- Open the spreadsheet in MS Excel and notice the four columns: Date and time, Tweet text (less than 115 characters), URL, and how many characters are left over for tweet space.
- Perform a File > Save As… function to preserve the file you just opened. I would recommend you save the file name with the name and date of your campaign (e.g., ArialBurnz_BBB03_2013‐04‐15.xlsx for an April 15th campaign for the third book in my series).
- Change the tweets to match your own campaign. I made some comments in the tweet cells that give further instructions on how to populate your spreadsheet. I was also told recently by an author friend, “My PR person told me for every tweet you send out about your book, send five others that are NOT related to your book. It makes you look more personal and you don’t sound like ‘BUY MY BOOK’ all the time. Readers will think you’re obnoxious.” “But how do you do that?” you might ask. Tips:
a. Post some of your favorite quotes, interesting facts and “Did you know?” stuff. These are easy to do because you can go to the internet and search for them. Tweet about things that inspire you.
b. Tweet about other friends’ books or reviews you’ve posted on their books. Or anything about other people, like links to cute pictures or videos they’ve posted for public consumption. (e.g., Please RT – my friend’s kid posted his first self‐produced music video & it’s really good!)
c. Post links to favorite movies or videos or pictures you love (e.g., a funny, cute or romantic video on YouTube)
- Watch your tweet numbers by watching the column all the way to the right. Once you hit ENTER, that number will change to show you how many characters you have available in your tweet (positive number) or how many you’re over (negative number). Change tweets accordingly.
- Change the URL’s to be appropriate for the tweet. Please Note: Excel might try to hyperlink them automatically. You can leave that for now, but before you’re finished, highlight the entire column and right‐click on any hyperlink. Select “Remove hyperlinks” from the context menu that appears. It should remove the hyperlinks from all the cells.
- Change the dates and times of your tweet. Click on cell A1 where you see the date and time:
a. Change the date and time in cell A1 to when you’d like your first tweet to go out.
b. Change the date and time in cell A2 to when you’d like your second tweet to go out. I try to space mine anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes apart, even up to one hour. This way the tweets won’t be so frequent for those who watch Twitter feeds, but will be enough to catch many who are online. (Make sense? I wouldn't go less than 10 minutes apart, personally.)
c. Now…highlight both cells A1 and A2 as pictured here by clicking and dragging over those two cells. Please notice the small square in the bottom‐right corner of the two highlighted cells. This is called the AutoFill Handle. Your cursor in Excel normally looks like a fat, white plus‐sign when you are selecting cells. When you position your cursor over the AutoFill Handle, it changes to a skinny, black plus‐sign – and when it changes to that, that is how you use the AutoFill Handle (in the next step).
d. Position your cursor over the AutoFill Handle, click and HOLD your left mouse button…then drag DOWN until you reach the bottom of the tweets (as pictured below). NOTICE: The little flag text that appears will change as you drag it over each cell, telling you what each cell will contain as you move over it with the AutoFill Handle. This picture shows the finished results as well, so you can see how the flag text matches what is already in the last cell. Why did we do this and what just happened? Highlighting BOTH A1 & A2 when you use the AutoFill Handle tells Excel that you want to repeat the pattern established in those two cells. In this example, notice the tweets are 30 minutes apart at “05” of the hour and “35” of the hour. Notice every tweet after that has the times 30 minutes apart with the same pattern. You could establish “4/4/2013 9:00” in A1 and “4/4/2013 9:15” in A2 and you would get tweets spaced 15 minutes apart at every quarter‐hour. Make sense? 😉
- SAVE YOUR WORK! You should be doing this often as you are working on your spreadsheet. Just hit “CTRL + S” periodically while you work on creating new tweets.
Prepare Your Spredsheet for Hootsuite!
- Once you’ve saved your completed campaign spreadsheet outlined above, you now need to prepare it for Hootsuite by doing another “File > Save As…” command. THIS time, you will select “CSV (Comma delimited) (*.csv)” from the “Save as type:” drop‐down list under where you type the file name. No need to change the file name. In fact, I recommend you DON’T.
- Just say YES. You will most likely get a warning from MS Excel about how your file may have features that are not compatible with the CSV format. That’s fine. Just answer “YES” to the question, “Do you want to keep the workbook in this format?”
- DELETE column D where the numbers are showing you how many characters you have left for your tweet. This column will be rejected by Hootsuite and will cause errors. This was only for our purposes while preparing the tweet campaign.
- SAVE AGAIN. You must be sure you save it one more time so the CSV will not have those numbers deleted in the previous step. You will still get that error that popped up in step 2. Again, just say YES.
- DON’T Save! After all the above steps, you can close your spreadsheet. But MS Excel will ask you if you want to save your changes. If you click “SAVE”, it will give you the same error in step 2 and you'll get yourself in this constant loop. Just close the spreadsheet and select “Don’t Save” when it asks you. Your spreadsheet will close. Don’t worry…your CSV was saved when you selected “YES” in step 4. 😉
- NOW you’re ready to upload to Hootsuite.
How to Upload Your Spreadsheet to Hootsuite
- Follow the steps above to prepare your campaign and create the proper format Hootsuite will accept.
- Now follow Steps 1-3 outlined above under “Finding the Original Spreadsheet Template.” This will get you to the bulk upload pop-up box.
- Click on the “Choose File” button and grab that CSV file you created above in the previous instructions.
- Under “Choose a date format”, the first bullet point should be selected (mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm) should already be selected by default, which matches the way we did the dates in the spreadsheet. If you're an international author, you're probably used to the dd/mm/yyyy format. As long as your spreadsheet is in this same format, then you should select this second option.
- Select your Twitter account from the next drop-down menu if it isn't already selected.
- Now click the “Submit” button.
- If there are no errors with the spreadsheet, it will give you a message that your upload was received and XX messages were scheduled. However, if you have an error, it will appear in red telling you exactly what's wrong with the spreadsheet. It will not accept the spreadsheet unless those errors are fixed, so you'll have to go back to the XLS document, fix the problem, and re-upload the spreadsheet back at Step 3 of this section.