Businesses in industries ranging from manufacturing to food service have experienced the power of social media in helping build their brand and engage customers. With more channels to deliver messages, social media has been a communicator’s (or marketer’s) dream. Like any good thing, though, bad habits tend to form. In this blog post, I will expose my biggest social media pet peeve—the bad habit that irks me the most: linked accounts.
In theory, it makes sense to simplify things by linking accounts. One message sent instantaneously across multiple channels with the click of a button. Efficiency at its best—especially if you schedule it in advance. And, since many companies still don’t have dedicated social media professionals, sending out tweets or posting Facebook updates often becomes an add-on to someone’s job duties. Anything to make life simpler is preferred. But, I despise this approach. Despise it so much it makes me want to “un-follow” and “un-friend” anyone who does it—even if they are my best friend or my favorite company.
You’re probably wondering why linked accounts, of all things, is my biggest social media pet peeve. Don’t I see the dozens of egghead avatars and Twitter profiles sans descriptions? Haven’t I had enough of the game requests on Facebook? What about all those links posted without any text or context? Well, you are correct—there are other horrible things happening in the social media space. Some might say they are equally dreadful, but still, these—albeit heinous—bad habits don’t bother me as much.
You’re missing the point
Social media is all about being social. It means you should interact and socialize with customers and fans. If you simply send out one message across your various platforms, you probably aren’t socializing in a two-way form. It’s a better use of your time to tailor your message for each audience—show them you are thinking about what they want, how they want it. Pay attention to the conversations happening in each one and tailor your post accordingly.
Give people a reason to follow you/connect with you
If your business has an account on multiple platforms, it’s highly likely you have many of the same fans and followers for each one. They do so because they like you/your company. But, even your loyal fans may start to drop off because it doesn’t make sense for them to get the very same message on every platform. There is no incentive for them to follow you on all if they can get it from one. It’s a crowded space in social media land. Give people a reason to follow you in multiple places or risk being the victim of someone’s “social media cleanup.”
What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for all
The various channels don’t always play nice together or make sense. I can’t tell you how many times a day I see what must have originally been a Facebook post come across as a tweet that makes zero sense in 140 characters because it is cut off. The link takes me to Facebook where I have to read the remainder of the message. If I had wanted to be on Facebook, I would have been. I go to Twitter because the conversations are different. Have you ever seen, “Follow us on Twitter” messages—on Twitter? Or, “Check us out on Facebook” as a Facebook status update? Talk about out of touch. If you haven’t noticed, as of now, hashtags don’t translate well to Facebook. A hashtag just appears silly in a status update. It is meaningless. While Facebook is working to incorporate them eventually, it’s still a good idea to keep things separate for now to avoid confusion.
Know your audience and understand what makes them tick. Pay attention to the conversations happening in each social media network. Your Twitter followers may not want to see every item you pin to your Pinterest page. I recommend unlinking those accounts. It’s perfectly okay to let your followers know you have a Pinterest account. Give them an idea of what they’ll find there. Entice them with a reason to follow you on Pinterest and make sure it’s different than what they’ll find on your other networks.
There are a few instances when I think a blast post across channels is okay—and most of those instances involve an emergency or crisis situation. When the goal is to get a message out quickly and broadly, linking your accounts does make sense, especially when time is of the essence.
Social media “experts” all have varying opinions on the topic of linking accounts. In my experience, those who advocate for linked accounts for simple ease of blasting out messages, are not experts at all. Marketing and communicating isn’t supposed to be easy—it’s supposed to be effective, timely and meaningful. Don’t take a shortcut in social media, because you may find yourself on a hamster wheel—constantly sending out messages but not seeing any results. You will go round and round, yet nothing will change. You’ll get new fans and followers but they won’t stay. The better approach is to un-link your accounts, engage your audiences individually and provide meaningful, tailored content. Be a part of the conversation instead of starting one and then bailing.
What do you think about linking accounts? Do you do it? Have you found it to be a successful social media tactic? Let me know your side of the story in the comments below.
Hollie Geitner is vice president, client services for WordWrite Communications. You can find her on Twitter @JustHollieG.