Does your Blog Update Your Facebook & Facebook update your Twitter? You’re Doing It Wrong

I received some requests that I should elaborate on a recent tweet that read “If your blog is updating your Facebook status & Facebook status is updating Twitter… You’re Doing It Wrong!” My tweet was inspired by two things: a presenter at the NTEN NTC who mentioned the site, and my constant frustration when I click a link in a tweet only to be taken to a slightly longer Facebook status update that I then have to click on to get to the original source posting.

In ecommerce it is an accepted truth that you want as few steps between your product and checkout as possible. Most information architects would also agree that the shortest path between home page and the information a site visitor is looking for is best. Most geeks would agree, whatever the app, the fewer clicks the better. So why do so many people have their social media content streams cascading across multiple platforms in such a way as to add more clicks?

The answer is probably carelessness or laziness or ignorance (not willful, but inadvertent). I can’t imagine that it is intentional. I am just neurotic enough to notice this sort of thing and get frustrated by it. Frustrated enough to write this blog post. Hopefully I’ve convinced you that this cascade of social media posts is a problem, and now I will present the solution.

If your original source content is a blog post that appears on your website, and you have the resources (time), the ideal way to spread it around is by custom writing a Facebook status update about it, and writing a separate tweet about it with a link. This way you can craft your message to the specific audiences and space constraints.

Most people probably don’t want to spend the extra time to write custom updates for Twitter and Facebook for each update, and that is okay. There are tools like TwitterFeed which allow you to take an RSS feed and create tweets from it. You can craft the “pattern” for those tweets. If you write compelling blog post titles (and this is yet another reason to do that) you can just use the blog post title as the tweet and TwitterFeed takes care of the link.  If you are using Drupal, you can achieve similar results with the Twitter module.

You may want to indicate that it is coming from your blog but that is not necessary. You do not need to have “New Blog Post” or even “New Post” at the beginning, you might want “[COMPANY NAME] Blog: [BLOG TITLE]” but only if your company name is short enough, alternately you might just want to say “Blog: [BLOG TITLE]”. Anything more takes up valuable characters, and doesn’t add much value. A follower is not going to be much more motivated by “New Blog Post.” The content of the tweet should motivate them enough to follow your link.

One thing to consider is that if you blog ALOT (many times a day), then people may just start to tune all your tweets out (or unfollow you) because they use their RSS feeds to subscribe to blogs, not twitter. To avoid being unfollowed for this kind of behavior, you may want to think about selectively announcing your posts on Twitter which could be done using a specific category/taxonomy based feed, or by manually crafting your Twitter posts to promote certain blog posts.

For Facebook there are a bunch of ways to get a blog onto your wall or fan page using RSS, you may want to do it by adding/posting a link rather than using a status update, for example, or you may want to use an RSS widget/app to show all posts, I am not going to go into much detail about this. My point is that you should not be updating your Twitter status with your Facebook status because in most cases they won’t fit. And as your followers realize that often those links you seem to post are really just links to your Facebook status updates that are longer that 140 chars, well, then they may just tune you out or unfollow you.

It is okay to update your Facebook status with your Twitter posts. Your entire Twitter post can always fit in a status update. There is no additional click necessary for your Facebook friends or fans to read the whole thing. However, if you update Twitter many times a day (or hour), you may not want all those tweets — especially retweets, @ replies or mentions — going to your Facebook status/wall (its sort of like being subjected to listening to one side of a cellphone call on the train). You can use something called FB Selective Tweets App on Facebook which looks for a #fb hash tag in your tweets and only posts those to your Facebook wall.

The bottom line is as homogenous as you THINK your Twitter and Facebook audiences are, they are different. Even if you have 100% overlap (the same people in both, which you do not) they way people use each medium is different. When you are deciding what to post where, and how to reduce the work associated with keeping Facebook and Twitter up to date through automation, please consider this fact. You have 140 characters, use them! Be sure to provide enough context and make your tweets compelling enough that people will want to click on your link. And remember: always add value with your posts where ever they may be.

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