Saturday, March 20, 2010

Be careful when cross-posting updates on Facebook, Twitter

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, March 19, 2010

Welcome to the first edition of Social Media Matters, a weekly roundup of news, questions and tips on social media such Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others.

Have a question about a social media-related topic? Send it in and I'll gladly answer it!

Cross-posting updates: Many people who use Twitter and Facebook have taken to using services that update their statuses on both sites at the same time. While these updates may make sense when sharing links or posting other updates related to what they're doing at that specific moment, there's been a trend of being very careless by placing very Twitter-specific updates on Facebook using language and coding at which Facebook users who don't use Twitter just shake their heads.

Make sure if you're cross-posting updates that you use the correct language for whatever service you're using. On Twitter, for example, Friday is "Follow Friday", when users promote people that their followers may also want to link to. For example, if I follow Joe Smith and I think my followers may think he's interesting, I'll type "#FF @JoeSmith." If you're a Twitter user, this makes complete sense.

If you're only on Facebook, however, and this shows up in your newsfeed, you will sit there staring at it wondering what in the world your Facebook friend is talking about.

Twitter and Facebook users need to be very careful about cross-posting updates that make no sense on the other platform. All this does is confuse your followers and cause you to be hidden in their feed -- or "unfriended". (More about that below.)

Social media is just that... social. You need to take your audience into account if you're trying to make an impact. If you're just an individual, you may not care, but if you're tweeting as a corporation and haven't figured this out yet, then all it tells me (as a heavy user of social media) is that you have no idea what you're doing. If it shows that you have no idea what you're doing, then that impacts my image of your credibility.

My own practice is to not cross-post across different platforms. Twitter users expect to simply see a link; however Facebook users like to see links with more context, such as a short synopsis and photo. Take the time to treat your Facebook followers like Facebook followers. The extra 30 seconds it takes to properly place a link or share a status update on Facebook will only endear you further to your followers instead of annoying them with abbreviated text and code that makes absolutely no sense to them.

Vaguebooking: "Vaguebooking" is another new term flying around these days. Nothing drives me crazier than people looking for pity on Facebook or Twitter. They "vaguebook" when trying to garner attention online.

If you want to lose credibility, write status updates like this: "Can't take it anymore;" "Why is this happening to me?;" "Nothing I do is ever enough;" "Will have to try harder next time."

All these updates do is cause one to wonder, "What's wrong?" In fact, it's just a cry for attention. Unless I know the person very well and such a comment is very much out of character, I will ignore updates like these like the plague.

Another popular vaguebooking technique is placing completely obscure song lyrics in your status update. One person I know placed song lyrics about a marriage breakup in his status update and then wondered aloud why everyone thought he broke up with his wife. Really? You sent out an update that read, "Go on now go walk out the door... just turn around now... 'cause you're not welcome anymore" to 500 friends and you're surprised people think your marriage broke up?

Maybe 10 per cent of your friends who read this recognized them as lyrics from Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", but the other 90 per cent started calling each other for the scoop on what was wrong -- or started rumours. Just be careful and don't blame people for trying to figure out what your vaguebooking updates mean.

Inexperienced corporate tweeters: If you're promoting your company on Twitter, please figure out how to use the service first. Read the myriad of tips available online. Learn the lingo. And if you're tweeting as a brand, i.e. Delicious Cereal Inc., remember that you're tweeting as the brand and not as yourself. If you read a tweet that reads "@DeliciousCerealInc: I went to see Avatar last night and loved it," does that make much sense? If you're tweeting for your company and also want to tweet personally, set up a personal account for yourself.

There are major companies right here in New Brunswick who are committing that faux pas every day, and I shake my head wondering if anyone "upstairs" in management even realizes how amateurish it makes them look. If you're going to play the game, folks, learn some of the rules first... and make sure your staff know what they're doing.

As a corporation, even if you choose not to use Twitter or Facebook, it's always wise to have a staff members scan the landscape periodically to see what's being said about your company. At least take a look at what your competitors are doing. If they're using social media, you can be sure that there's a demand for it. And if not yet, then they'll create a demand and you'd better get on board now before it's too late.

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