How to Bulk Schedule Messages Using Hootsuite

By Mike Allton | 1 year ago | Skills | No Comments


Mike Allton is an Internet Marketing Consultant and certified HootSuite Solution Partner. This article, on how to schedule social media posts, is the fourth in a series on making the most of your HootSuite account and was originally published on The Social Media Hat. View the original here.

What is HootSuite Bulk Scheduling?

Mike Allton
Mike Allton

Within HootSuite, we have covered how you can use the Compose tool to create a message that gets sent out to one or more selected social networks. And we also covered how you can choose a specific date and time for the post to be published, or use HootSuite’s AutoSchedule to pick a time within the next 2 – 12 hours when it’s more likely that your network’s followers will be online. But what is this Bulk Schedule option that keeps coming up?

Bulk Schedule is when you set up multiple posts to be published, all at once. It’s achieved by uploading a special spreadsheet, which we will dig into in a moment, and that tells HootSuite the time and content of every post you want to schedule.

There is a maximum of 350 total scheduled messages across all of your networks for your HootSuite account, and you can specify multiple social networks when uploading your spreadsheet. However, if you’re going to bulk schedule messages it’s probably best that you have different spreadsheets with different times for different social networks, so keep that overall limit of 350 scheduled messages in mind.

What can you Bulk Schedule with HootSuite?

With your trusty spreadsheet, you can set specific date and times and specify text and a link to share at that time. Links are automatically shortened using your default HootSuite link shortener. Your total post, including both text and the link, is limited in characters by whichever network you’re posting to. Since it’s likely that you will be posting to Twitter, that means a limit of 140 characters. When you upload the spreadsheet, all posts in the sheet are scheduled for the selected networks, so you can create one spreadsheet for Twitter and a different one for Facebook where you a greater character allowance.

Links are optional, so you can share plain text messages whenever you wish.

What can’t you Bulk Schedule with HootSuite?

One drawback to Bulk Scheduling is that you cannot include images. Normally, if you have a HootSuite Pro account, you can Compose a post, drop an image onto the post, and have that image posted as an image to Twitter or Facebook, rather than just a link preview. The uploaded spreadsheet for bulk scheduling offers no such option.

You may not bulk schedule duplicate messages, though you can use the same spreadsheet later on to reschedule posts if it makes sense to do so.

How to set up HootSuite Bulk Scheduling

How to get to the bulk scheduler
How to get to the bulk scheduler

Bulk Scheduling obviously starts with the spreadsheet. Your HootSuite dashboard will provide you with a template, or you can use this one. You can also go to this website and create a spreadsheet online, which is worlds easier. That service, recommended by +Jason Bahamundi, can also schedule your posts within a timeframe parameter, and randomize them. If you want to edit your own spreadsheet, here’s how:

The spreadsheet has three columns: Date, Message, Link. You do not need to label the columns. Each row is a new scheduled post, so if you want to schedule 15 posts your spreadsheet should have 15 rows of information. As mentioned earlier, the Message and Link column text needs to be limited in characters for whatever network you’re posting to, but otherwise can say whatever you want.

The Date column data is what’s tricky, as the date must be in a very specific format of mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm or dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm. You’ll need to tell Excel that that data in column is Text and not to be changed or it will try to convert your dates into a different display that will fail your upload.

Post times must end in a 5 or 0, like 10:00 or 10:45. If you put an odd time into your spreadsheet HootSuite will round up and then post. You also need to set all times to be at least ten minutes into the future so make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to schedule the activity.

Save your spreadsheet as a CSV (comma separated values) and then upload it. HootSuite will either accept it or tell you that there are errors to fix.

To upload, you can open a Compose box, click on the Schedule button and then click on the “bulk schedule posts” link. You can also go to the Publisher tab and click on the “Schedule in Bulk” button in the upper left.

This will open the Bulk Scheduling dialogue box where you can upload your CSV file, select the format you chose to use for your post dates, and select one or more social networks.

HootSuite-Bulk-Schedule
A look at the bulk scheduling tool within the HootSuite dashboard

If there are any issues with your uploaded file, HootSuite will tell you what the problems are and on which lines. For instance, if your posting to Twitter and you have a status update that is too long, HootSuite will tell you that row #2 has too many characters for Twitter. At that point, no posts will be scheduled, just in case it’s critical that the post(s) with an error be scheduled. You will need to correct or delete the status update(s) indicated, and then resubmit your CSV file.

This is, of course, the point where most users get frustrated, and where that website I referenced earlier can come in handy. You may run into a bunch of errors, particularly if you’re uploading a lot of updates at once, and have trouble getting them all corrected. The first time you try the bulk scheduler, I recommend scheduling just a couple of posts so you can make sure that your spreadsheet format is correct, and you get the hang of the system.

And be patient. Take the time to craft valuable and meaningful updates, and take the time to assemble and correct your spreadsheet, and you may be richly rewarded with an incredible savings of time in the long run.

Now that you have the basic technique and tools to set up bulk scheduling, let’s look at some of the viable ways businesses might use this HootSuite feature.

Uses for HootSuite Bulk Scheduling

You can use HootSuite bulk scheduling to craft and share messages and activity using your old content. Make sure, of course, that the article information is still valid and appropriate.

Another easy use case for bulk scheduling is when you or your social media manager are going to be out of the office, say for a week’s vacation, you can bulk schedule daily posts and updates to ensure that specific messages are being shared throughout the week. If you’re going to do this, I would still encourage you or a representative to continue to monitor your social networks so that you can respond to comments and feedback in a timely manner.

Businesses who are active in content marketing, social media marketing and content curation often actually forget to simply mention themselves ands what they do. Is certainly OK to talk about yourself now and then on social networks and remind people who you are and what you do. Bulk Schedule is a great way to do this because you can decide in advance what you’re going to say, how often you’re going to say it, and then schedule it. This ensures regular communication but keeps it in line and in proportion to everything else that you’re saying.

By the same token, if your business is regularly going to be closed or unavailable due to holidays, conferences or other circumstances, you can pre-schedule appropriate messages so your followers and customers know what to expect. You can create an Out of Office spreadsheet with all of the year’s holidays and special dates by row, and a custom message for each.

Speaking of holidays, how about having some fun and wishing everyone a Happy Boxing Day or Happy Groundhog Day! You could set up reminders for yourself of course, or just have another spreadsheet that you load up and and update each January with the coming year’s dates and messages.

Do you find yourself regularly sharing the same messages or reminders? Perhaps you’re hosting or attending a weekly Twitter chat, or maybe at the end of every month it’s helpful for you to remind your followers and customers to send in their information or files. Plug that into a Bulk Schedule so that you can be assured that it will go every time you need it to, leaving you free to concentrate on more important things.

As you can see, there are a LOT of uses for Bulk Scheduling social media posts. What you aren’t seeing in this list are replacements for normal, day-to-day activity. Social media activity needs to be genuine and meaningful. But when we’re simply communicating information, like our hours on Christmas Eve, it’s almost better to schedule that well in advance and know that it’s taken care of.

One final word on scheduling: always be mindful of what you have scheduled to post at any given time. You can open your HootSuite Dashboard and click on Publisher to see what’s scheduled to go out. If something happens and it would suddenly be inappropriate to be sharing the messages you have scheduled, make sure you log in and reschedule or delete them.

These are the ways businesses can use HootSuite to schedule and maintain a consistent presence on social media that provides real value to your followers and potential customers

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12 comments
AmyEndeavour
AmyEndeavour

Hi,


I have just set up a new account for my business on HootSuite. We have multiple Twitter accounts we want to add, but it seems an intern in the past may have added them to their personal HootSuite and it is not letting me add any of them. I have no way of finding out which intern it was and contacting them. But we need to add these twitter accounts to our hootsuite account. Please can you advise me on what to do.

ingridvonburg
ingridvonburg

Does anyone else have problems with the date stamp format requiring 4 digits in the year? My MS Excel only does it with 2 digits when I require the time!!!

vikki
vikki

I have no problem uploading file and when I look at the publisher tab all my tweets look correct but they are not appearing on my account ... any suggestions on where I am going wrong?

VoucherCodeGuru
VoucherCodeGuru

Nice article!


Is the 350 limit an overall total or a limit per upload? In other words is it ever possible to schedule more than 350 messages at any given time?

Hootsuite_Help_Desk
Hootsuite_Help_Desk moderator

Hi Phillip,

Thank you for reaching out to the HootSuite help team! We are happy to help with your request!

Thank you for providing feedback on the bulk scheduler. At this time, this feature is not on our current product roadmap, however it may be reexamined at a later date. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding! If you have any further questions, please contact us on Twitter @HootSuite_Help.

Kind Regards,

Amy | Customer Advocate | @HootSuite_Help

Phillip
Phillip

Are there any plans to include the link preview image in the bulk posting via a csv file? Or sharing of images via url? I love the bulk posting via a spreadsheet but I cant stand that it doesn't allow a link preview. It makes my status updates so ugly. Same with the hootsuite mobile app. Why does it not allow the link preview either? That makes the mobile app lose a ton of functionality in my opinion.

Hootsuite_Help_Desk
Hootsuite_Help_Desk moderator

@ingridvonburg Hi there! With Excel, please go to Format> Cell> Custom, select HH:MM and then when inputting your time it will auto-format to military time! I hope this helps feel free to tweet us @Hootsuite_Help if you have any further questions!  Best, Sharin | @Hootsuite_Help | http://hootsuite.com/help

Hootsuite_Help_Desk
Hootsuite_Help_Desk moderator

@vikki Hi Vikki, sorry to hear this! When you go to Publisher>Past Scheduled messages do you see any appearing in red?  Clicking on it would reveal an error message!  If you are still experiencing issues, please tweet to us @Hootsuite_help and on of our Support Owls will be able to assist!  Thanks, Sharin | @Hootsuite_Help | http://hootsuite.com/help

Hootsuite_Help_Desk
Hootsuite_Help_Desk moderator

@VoucherCodeGuru  Thanks!  Happy to clarify, this is the overall total limit and not the limit per upload.  It is not possible to schedule more than 350 messages by bulk scheduling.  Should you have any follow up questions, please send us a tweet to @HootSuite_Help and we'll be happy to assist further there!  Best, Sharin | @HootSuite_Help | http://hootsuite.com/help

Hootsuite_Help_Desk
Hootsuite_Help_Desk moderator

@Phillip  

Hi Phillip,

Thank you you for reaching out to us! This is currently not on our product road map, but we are always looking at ways to improve our dashboard functionality.

Thank you for your feedback! If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us onTwitter @HootSuite_Help.


Kind regards,

Amy @HootSuite_Help - http://hootsuite.com/help