The Danger of Over-Automation in Social Media

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a panel presentation on social media hosted by IABC Maritimes here in Halifax. It was really interesting to hear the stories from Garrison Brewing Company, Nova Scotia Power, Turbine Fashion, and Nova Scotia Archives and how they have made social media work for them. Each speaker had a different perspective and all had fabulous tips to share for those who are not already living social media 24/7. But wait… I did pick up a couple of tips myself.

I think three out of four speakers mentioned their dislike for “cross-posting”. Yes, cross-posting your Twitter feed to your Facebook status saves time, but apparently it really annoys a lot of people. The reason? It makes you look lazy! Huh.

When you type a comment into Twitter, you only have 140 characters. Often you will use twithand (Twitter specific shortened words used to save space). People also often add hashtags to their Twitter updates. When the twithand and the hashtags cross over into Facebook or LinkedIn, it’s a dead giveaway that you are cross-posting, which to many avid social medialites is the same as ignoring their needs.

Because Facebook allows you to use 420 characters and a thumbnail picture in your status updates, a simple cross-posting of a Twitter post is underutilizing the potential contact you have with your fans on Facebook. People who choose to interact with you on Facebook deserve a fully written description of what you are posting, and a relevant thumbnail, not just the first one that pops up.

There is another less obvious danger to cross-posting to Facebook, whether it’s through Twitter or another service such as Networked Blogs (yes, I am currently using Networked Blogs, but I am going to be more careful about it now). When Networked Blogs shares your most recent blog post on Facebook it can become one of many posts from the service and get condensed to save space. Here is one example:

Multiple networked blogs posts condensed on Facebook

This is what happens when your fans follow many people who are relying on Networked Blogs to share posts to Facebook. Is your post one of the 46 posts in “more from Networked Blogs”?

 In this screen shot from my personal news feed on Facebook, you can see that my friend Lisa has posted to her fabulous and inspiring cardmaking blog, and she uses Networked Blogs to auto-publish the post to Facebook. You can also see just below her post there are 40 more posts from Networked Blogs to be read. I have a post in that list. If this is happening to your blog posts, how many of your fans are missing out on the posts? This also happens with Twitter and Foursquare cross-posts.


Facebook screen capture of condensed Twitter posts

An example of condensed Twitter posts on Facebook.

So what’s the solution? Well, you can elect not to auto-publish your posts with Networked Blogs and try to remember to post them yourself. I am opting to keep the Networked Blogs auto-publishing and committing to ALSO manually post a link to Facebook a day or two later to make sure all of my Facebook fans see the new post.

Many thanks to the speakers at IABC Maritimes who made me think about this issue a bit more. For some great tweeting, I highly recommend you follow them:

Have you encountered other negative effects of cross-posting or over-automation? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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