Why you shouldn’t link your social media accounts

Social mediaIf you’re looking for a way to minimise the time you spend on social media, clicking the ‘link your account to Twitter/Facebook’ option isn’t the way to go about it.

Facebook and Twitter both give you the option to link your posts from one to another, meaning when you post on Facebook the content will appear on Twitter and vice versa. On the face of it, this seems like an ideal way to streamline your social media activity and get your message out to more people more quickly. Not so. Auto-posting from one platform is not a quick fix solution and can actually do more harm than good. Here’s why:

  1. Twitter has a character limit of 140 per tweet. Facebook has a limit of 63,206 per post. If you are auto-posting from Facebook to Twitter then you would need to ensure that each status was under 140 characters to avoid getting an auto-generated Twitter link pointing you back to Facebook to read the rest of the post. The link would appear included in the 140 character limit and not at the end of the sentence, so you may well end up with a nonsensical tweet.
  2. Twitter uses jargon. Facebook doesn’t. Twitter users will be familiar with hashtags (#) within tweets, but this doesn’t (currently) mean anything on Facebook. Using a # sign in a tweet will make it a clickable link, bringing up a list of other tweets containing the same # and word. This is a great function on Twitter and is used for group discussions on events, TV programmes, live chats, to name but a few. If you have linked your Twitter account to your Facebook then the appearance of hashtags will simply irritate or confuse your fans.
  3. Facebook hides the @ sign. Twitter doesn’t. If you want to ‘tag’ or mention someone on Facebook or Twitter then you can use the @ symbol before the start of their name, username or fan page name. This works to the same principal on both Facebook and Twitter and means the ‘tagged’ person will receive a notification that you have mentioned them. All Twitter usernames begin with @ and so this always remains visible when you include it in a tweet. On Facebook however, this is just a tagging function and the name of the person or page you are referring to will display without the @. If your tweet comes directly into Facebook then someone’s @ Twitter name included in the post will not mean anything on Facebook and may not even be the same as their Facebook name.
  4. Twitter moves more quickly than Facebook. Once you follow more than a couple of dozen active people on Twitter, you will see that new tweets appear in your newsfeed every minute or so. This means that the life of a tweet can be very short indeed. If your followers only check Twitter once a day, then something you tweet in the morning may well never been seen by them when they check at 8pm. Facebook tends to be a slower moving platform and users are more likely to scroll back through a whole day’s worth of posts to see what’s been happening. Given this speed difference, the number of times you tweet may well be significantly higher than the number of times you post onto Facebook. If you tweet ten times a day and all your tweets are appearing in your fans’ Facebook newsfeeds, then you are probably setting yourself up for an ‘unlike’.
  5. Facebook doesn’t like web links. Twitter does. Facebook isn’t a brilliant place for posting links to your website as Facebook doesn’t like you trying to take people away from Facebook and will ensure that fewer people see this type of post (more on this in a later blog post!). Twitter however, is the ideal portal for directing traffic to your own or another interesting or noteworthy website, and about 25% of all tweets contain a link to a web address. The short and sweet nature of a tweet allows for the perfect snappy headline intro to a website, and then the link itself.

The important thing to remember is that Facebook and Twitter are different and so are the people who use them. Yes, people will use both, but they certainly won’t want to see the same content from you on both platforms at the same time. You wouldn’t regale the same story in the same way to your mum as you would to a breakfast networking meeting, and so the same rule applies to social networking sites. It is essential that the two are treated differently and with the respect each audience deserves.

Libby Langley

Libby loves social media marketing and training. She founded Zest Communications in 2011 to help businesses communicate more effectively with their customers through social media and now offers the UK’s first social media marketing BTEC qualification for business.