Some of us have lives that don't allow us to tweet several times a day, but we do have some blocks of time during the week to do so. It's not as effective to do a tweet dump all at once, as folks will have forgotten about us by the next time our tweet window comes around. This makes the ability to schedule tweets into the future a real blessing.
There are several sites around the web that allow you to do some sort of scheduling of tweets. There's a nice post over on LimeExchange that covers them. The sites listed are: HootSuite, CoTweet, FutureTweets, Twaitter, DynamicTweets, Taweet, TweetSched, and Tweet-U-Later. I've looked at 3 of them (HootSuite, Twaitter, and Tweet-U-Later), and I'm probably going to be using two (HootSuite and Twaitter).
I do my tweeting in batches. I get up on Sunday morning and check my Artfire guilds. Some guilds do weekly promotions boosting individual artisans or themes and I use Sunday morning to do my part in the promotion. I set up my tweets for the week and prepare any blog postings I'm going to do.
My current method is to tweet one artists' shop for the week, with a link to it, and to tweet a different item each day for a different. Doing the tweets by hand each time is going to take a lot of time and risk typos, etc. In order to reduce the likelihood of such mishaps, I need the ability to store draft tweets and schedule them into the future. A really nice thing would to be able to schedule recurring tweets, so that I set it up once and it goes off and runs.
Recurring tweets are slightly frowned upon in the twitter world if you do not tweet something else between consecutive postings of a given tweet. So, be careful when scheduling recurring tweets. Schedule two different recurring tweets at 12 hour intervals and you'll be less likely to incur Twitter's wrath.
I've been using HootSuite the longest and it does everything I want, except recurring tweets. Once you set up your account with them (using your twitter account), you'll be able to hook in other social media websites. I currently have twitter, facebook and linkedin tied into HootSuite. What's the benefit of that? You can send your tweets as notes to all of your social media websites at once!
When you login, you'll see a compose message area at the top of the web page. In that little text field, you type in your tweet. When you click in the text field to start typing, the area will expand and you'll see icons for your social media websites, a shrink button, a calendar button, a save button, a send now button, and a count for the number of characters you have left in your tweet.
The social media website icons let you select where you're sending your tweet (or update), the shrink button lets you save space by shrinking any links you have in your tweet. The calendar button lets you schedule a tweet into the future. When you click it a calendar pop-up appears and you can choose the date and time that your tweet goes out. The save button lets you save a tweet as a draft. Saving a tweet as a draft lets you re-use the same tweet over and over and over, without retyping. I love that capability! I use it all of the time. I'll set up a bare skeleton tweet and save it as a draft. Then I'll grab the url for an item I want to promote, bring up the saved tweet and add the url to the tweet and then schedule it or send it right away.
There are probably a number of features to HootSuite that are available that I'm not using at the moment. Play with it and see! Oh, there is also a free HootSuite iPhone app, so you can schedule and read tweets on the go.
I've just barely started using Twaitter and mainly because it lets you schedule recurring tweets. This site also wants to tie directly into your twitter account. When you login, you'll see a tweet entry area on the website with "send now", "save draft", and "schedule" buttons. There are also "shorten url", "spell check", and other buttons, too.
The schedule button has been the most important for me so far ( in the two days I've been on the site). When you press it, an area drops down with "one-time" and "recurring" buttons along with a day, time and timezone area. The "one-time" and "recurring" buttons are self-explanatory, and additional options appear when you select "recurring". You can choose daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly for how often the tweet will recur. You also set the end date for the last time the tweet will be sent. You can choose "no end date", "end after x number of occurrences", or "end by" with a calendar pop-up so that you can choose the ending date.
I've just set up one recurring tweet with Twaitter so far, and it worked. The first tweet got sent out a day later than I expected, but I'm certain I mucked it up somehow.