Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cross-Posting: The Single Worst Social Media Mistake

This week, while researching what others have written about Instagram and SEO, we discovered this bit of advice from the second resultLink Your Facebook and Twitter Profiles to Your Instagram Account. 

"Be sure to link your Twitter and Facebook profiles to your Instagram account," writes Misty McPadden of V3B.

You might have heard this advice before, from other so-called experts. McPadden's advice comes with a seemingly sensible rationale: "When your accounts are linked," she writes, "when you share on Twitter, it’ll be posted to your Twitter feed as a link and posted to your Facebook feed as photo with text. This will increase the visibility of your posts and build more engagement with your brand."

This rationale seems so sensible, in fact, that most companies wouldn't hesitate to follow McPadden's advice. It's easy to link accounts, after all, and to "cross-post" across multiple platforms.

However, we must ask, is the easiest choice always the best choice? And is McPadden's assertion true, that cross-posting will "build more engagement with your brand"?

Style Over Substance?

First, a word about Misty McPadden's company, V3B, which bills itself as "an innovative agency specializing in the digital space."

A glance at V3B's site reveals the sort of sleek digital marketing agency you're likely to find all over the SEO world today: an agency that offers "solutions" to "leverage the web for growth." Doubtlessly, a company like V3B can help your online marketing efforts. In fact, too many online businesses ignore the value of digital marketing agencies, like V3B, to disastrous consequences.

"The problem is simple," we recently wrote. "Many business owners are dissuaded by the cost of digital marketing."

Please Read: Are You a Part of the $65 Billion SEO Economy? Should You Be?

Obviously, cost is not the only determinant. In conversations with hundreds of business owners, we have learned that some online businesses are also dissuaded by the style of many digital marketing agencies. V3B's site, for example, is beautifully designed, streamlined and stylish, and for many, impersonal and cliché.

The Problem with Clichés

cli·ché noun 1. a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought. 

Surely we don't need to define "cliché" for you--and, of course, you might know the problem with a cliché is the apparent ease of usage. A cliché is the crutch of a bored writer who cannot (at the moment, at least) think for him or herself. Instead of creating a language that speaks to others in a way that feels real, the bored writer mails it in, substituting buzz words or jargon for sincere thought.

George Orwell's description of clichés rings true:

"A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically ‘dead’...has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between those two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves."

George Orwell himself spawned a few clichés, most notably "Big Brother is Watching You."

Why You Should Not Link Your Social Media Accounts

Orwell's quote here reveals the problem with McPadden's advice to link your social media accounts. This advice, however sensible and easy, shows little to no real understanding of the nature of social media. Effective social media is about engagement. It is impossible to engage with anyone if you're attempting to (warning: cliché coming!)  kill three birds with one stone.

Twitter. Facebook. Instagram.

As we've said before: "Each platform is unique and should be respected as such. Respect each individual audience for what it is, and remember: be an active member of the community."

The advice to link accounts disregards the unique nature of each social media platform; it essentially favors quantity over quality.

A perfect example of this is Misty McPadden's Twitter account, which shows surprisingly little engagement for an account with nearly 46K followers. Perhaps this is because McPadden follows 42.1K people--or, really, no one. Just take a look at her "Tweet's and Replies." There's little to no conversation happening--none at all. One could be excused for believing the account was a spam bot.

To contrast, take a look at the "Tweets and Replies" of one our favorite Twitter personalities, Duchess Goldblatt. The Duchess is followed by a mere 5.5K people, 1/7 the amount of McPadden's followers, yet her tweets routinely receive many, many more likes and RTs than McPadden's tweets. We were fond of a tweet from today, which turned a cliché on its head:
What is the difference between the Duchess and accounts like McPadden's, that have tens of thousands of followers but relatively few likes and RTs? In a word, engagement--the cherished upshot, McPadden assures you, of linking your social media accounts.

Nonsense. True engagement requires a more nuanced approach, of the sort recommended by Ben Donker, a social media analyst at Link Humans and Microsoft:

"If you’re going to post the same content to multiple social networks because you want more people to see and benefit from that content, feel free to cross-promote but make sure you tailor the text to suit the network you’re posting it on and the audience that will be seeing your post. If you’re going to post the same content to multiple social networks just as a “filler”, please don’t."

Read: Why You Should Never Cross Post on Social Media

The "filler" Donker speaks of is, essentially, spam--quantity over quality. The analogy of email spam is relevant:

A spammer works on the principle of nearly 100% quantity. Blasting emails to millions, regardless of the recipient's preferences, spammers care little about the quality of their content. Instead, spammers play a numbers game, hoping for bare minimum conversions: 1% or less.

Sounds inefficient? Well, it is, in a sense. Yet a 1% conversion for one million emails is still 10,000. Would you like 10,000 customers? Perhaps. But if you're goal is a sustainable business, of course, spam is not the answer. Spam comes at a cost: when you spam, the quality of your brand image is degraded. You might attract 10,000 customers, but you positively repel 990,000 others. This is why we refer to spam as the lowest level of marketing, and why we believe is it entirely inefficient.

Read: Quality over Quantity: A Different View of SEO Marketing

The upshot: Be real. Engage.

The single worst social media mistake is playing the numbers game, favoring quantity--"increasing visibility," in McPadden's words--over quality.

Social Media Marketing with Stepman's SEO

Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective social media marketing campaigns.