Making your social networks play nicely together
Does anyone remember how things were done before the Age of the Social Network? When we went to get coffee, we simply drove to Starbucks, ordered our coffee, and drank it. Then we went back home or work and on with our lives. Now, we tweet that we‘re in desperate need of a cup of coffee. When we get to Starbucks, we "check in" using Facebook Places or Foursquare. Then we take a photo of our coffee and put it on Instagram with a vintage photo filter. We might even browse Pinterest for a recipe of a knock-off version of our favorite caffeinated concoction so that next time, we can make it ourselves instead of paying $5 for it. Maybe we‘ll post a blog about how much we love coffee. The social network possibilities are virtually endless.
With so many social tools at our fingertips, it can be tempting to link them all together. If you‘re having a magical cup of coffee, shouldn‘t everyone know it? If your Twitter and Facebook are linked, meaning that when you Tweet something it posts on your Facebook as well (and vice versa), isn‘t that just doubling your audience?
In theory, that works well. Social networking, and the Internet in general, is all about linking. But when you mash your networks together in an attempt to reach everyone, your networks lose their individuality. Each network has a specific purpose, which means that certain types of posts may not translate across all social media platforms. Also, it leads to repetitive and overly frequent posts, which leads to annoyed followers. These followers are never ideal; either they are ignoring you or unsubscribing from your feeds, thus defeating the purpose of a "social" network.
For example, linking your Pinterest account with your Facebook and Twitter accounts can be unnecessary. Chances are, the people who are interested in what you are pinning are already following you on Pinterest. By pinning items to multiple places, you‘re adding items from Pinterest to the feed of those who may be looking to use Facebook for its original purposes. This same idea spans other social media outlets as well.
If you‘re linking the two most prominent social networks, Facebook and Twitter, you may want to reconsider. The reason behind this is simple: Their purposes, while similar, are also very different. Facebook showcases what a user is involved in over time by using photo albums, a Timeline for each user, "Likes," and more. It keeps your friends and family updated on your life as a whole. If you‘re using it as a business, it keeps customers involved by building a relationship. Twitter is more about a conversation and what is happening in that moment. Twitter can be one-sided; that is, you may follow someone who doesn‘t follow you. Both tools are useful, and can be used similarly, but identical information should not be posted, and accounts should not be linked. When this happens, the result is a case of users getting too much of the same information across all their social mediums.
If you‘re a business owner who links your accounts, this poses a specific risk for you. Instead of appreciating information about your company and products coming from many different directions, users could instead become irritated with the repetition and frequency of your posts, especially if your posts to Facebook and Twitter are identical. This could lead to them unsubscribing from these feeds, which results in a loss of followers and potential sales leads.
Whether for business or pleasure, social media is a great tool. Different networks can work well together when properly implemented. Remember to steer clear of linking accounts when possible and to avoid posting overly similar or repetitive information on multiple platforms. By making your social networks play nicely together, you will create a better experience for yourself, your customers, and your fellow users.