Like any busy small business owner, I like to find ways to save time. I batch process work. I find tools that make life easier. I automate mundane business tasks like sending out invoices every month. However, there is one area that I refuse to automate and that’s content amplification, or sharing my messages across multiple networks. For example, I never set up a Facebook account to autopost on Twitter or vice versa. Autolinking Facebook to Twitter is one shortcut that will annoy your followers and ultimately hurt your brand reputation.
Twitter and Facebook Audiences Are Very Different
While there may be some cross over between your fans on each platform, for the most part they are probably two very different audiences, using the platforms in vastly different ways. People tend to gravitate to one platform or the other (except those absurd social media geeks like yours truly who use every platform available). On Facebook your readers are looking for more detail, not just witty little one-liners, while tweeps expect greater frequency and immediate responses.
When you type a comment into Twitter, you only have 280 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 you are cross-posting, which to many avid social users is the same as ignoring their needs. Your Facebook fans probably still don’t really get what the hashtags are all about (trust me, I still explain what a hashtag is on a weekly basis), so filling your post with hashtags looks weird and annoying to them.
Facebook, on the other hand, has room for a full article in a status update, so a simple cross-posting of a Twitter post is under-using 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.
That also means that your Twitter followers don’t get the full message on Twitter. When you write a long post on Facebook and it’s autolinked to Twitter, it gets cut off. Sometimes in really funny and inappropriate places.
When AutoLinking Facebook to Twitter Goes Wrong (very wrong)
Autolinking Facebook to Twitter *could work if you were very careful. You’d have to craft all your Facebook posts to 280 characters and use a graphic/photo size that works on both platforms. You’d also want to keep your hashtags to a minimum. And of course, you can’t tag any Facebook Pages in the post because that tag won’t work on Twitter. IF you can do all that, every time you post, sure, go ahead and take the shortcut through the dark alley.
More often than not, this is what happens:
This person posted 15 auto-links to Twitter in under 30 minutes. Two of them were scheduled through Hootsuite and 13 were autolinked from Facebook. Looking at that stream, tell me…what good does that do for your Twitter following? For that matter, how was that good for his Facebook Page? I have actually responded to his posts once or twice and not received a response in return, so I know he isn’t really “on” Twitter. Other people are talking to him as well, and he doesn’t respond. Twitter is an after-thought. What is the point of sending all of these unexplained links to Twitter? Is it really helping your business?
Here’s the thing. MOST Twitter followers are not going to click through to see what any of these links are. There is nothing there to entice them to click. No photo. No description. Zilch. I decided to click on a few to see what they were. Most were links to motivational quotes, or pictures of motivational quotes. Then I found this one:
It caught my eye because it’s a retweet posted from Facebook. I still can’t quite wrap my head around how this one was accomplished. More importantly, when I clicked on the link to see the rest of the post, this is what came up:
This tells me either he didn’t check the link before tweeting and RTing on Facebook (another example of bad automation), or the automation is so intermingled it’s not pulling the proper link to the article. Clearly this is a case of automation in social media gone horribly wrong. The reason Twitter users hate auto-linking so much is because THIS is how it gets used…or rather abused.
YES. Your followers on Twitter notice these things.
YES. This could be why Twitter isn’t working for you!
Most social media consultants will tell you NOT to autolink your accounts. It’s just too easy to screw it up. And screwing up your Twitter, wasting cyber space on links that are useless to your followers is a missed opportunity. And the opportunity cost of a Twitter follower not engaging with you when they see your content? I’ll leave that to you to decide.
Autolinking and Scheduling Apps Don’t Mix
FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, if you are also using Hootsuite or Buffer, or some other management tool to crosspost your content to both networks, don’t post to Facebook and Twitter if you have the accounts autolinked. Just think about that. You post to Twitter. And Facebook. Then your Facebook automagically posts again to Twitter, cutting off the end of your post. The two posts appearing side by side. It’s so very obvious to your Twitter followers when you’re doing this as they’ll likely see two or three posts one right after the other in their feed.
Autolinking Facebook to Twitter Creates Missed Opportunities
If you are autolinking you can’t ask your Facebook fans to come follow you on Twitter…because that post will appear on Twitter and that just makes you look inept. Think about it. I’m on Twitter and I see your post asking me to follow you on Twitter? How did I see the post in the first place? Oh…right…I’m already following you on Twitter!
I know. You’re thinking “I would never do that”…but when you set these types of automation up you tend to forget to check in on the other accounts. When you’re not logging in to Twitter that often, you forget that you’re even set up to autopost there and then stuff like this happens. I see it ALL. THE. TIME.
Engagement is the Key to Twitter
If all of your posts are from Facebook to Twitter and you never do anything else on Twitter, it’s clear you’re not really engaging. You don’t CARE about your Twitter followers. At least, that’s what it LOOKS like to Twitter users. If you really wanted to engage with them, you’d be there, answering questions, having conversations, engaging. Not just treating us like sloppy seconds. Yes. That’s what I said.Autolinking your Facebook to Twitter is like giving your Twitter followers sloppy seconds.Click To Tweet Doesn’t sound very appetizing or ENGAGING does it?
Saving Time in Social Media
Look. I get it. Social media is TIME-CONSUMING. You’re trying to find some shortcuts. Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
If you are running multiple social media profiles and need to save time, cross posting in an app like Hootsuite is a much better choice over autolinking Facebook to Twitter. EVEN THEN you have to remember that Twitter is only 280 characters, so you can’t always post exactly the same message to every network. You will still need to customize many of your posts for each network, but a cross posting app can make the work much quicker.
If you don’t have time to customize your information for two different audiences/networks, you need to re-evaluate whether or not you should be on both of those networks. And if you’re cross posting to Twitter and never checking in to have conversations with people, should you really have an account there?
The idea is you need to be social on whichever platform you’re using. It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason. If your voice on Twitter is completely automated why would someone want to engage with you, or buy from you?