Avoid the pitfalls of social media automation | Patti Rowlson

Do you post messages to Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram and click the button that automatically sends that same status update to Twitter? If so, you should know that those automated tweets may not represent your company in a positive manner and they may even generate negative PR.

Take a look at the message shown below that was recently shared on Twitter. It states that South Carolina is no longer going to educate children. Oops! That tweet did not relay the intended message at all.

Why you shouldn't auto tweet status updates

What the user was trying to share was this: “South Carolina made history this year by passing education reform. We will no longer educate children based on where they are born. Through reading coaches, technology investments, and expanding charter schools we just confirmed that we want our children to be the future workforce for our growing high tech jobs!”

Big difference, right? This social media faux pas was the result of a user automatically tweeting a post they sent out on Instagram.

When individuals and companies use social media management tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Buffer to schedule their status updates, they are tempted (and sometimes prompted) to link all their social media profiles together and automatically share the same status update across all platforms.

What users often forget is that each social site shares content a bit differently. Twitter for example has a 140 character limit – all characters beyond that limit are excluded from tweets. Period. No exceptions. In the case of the example above, the cut-off point significantly changed the message which created negatively publicity for the user.

Another example of social media automation gone wrong pertains to photos shared on Facebook that are auto tweeted. Here are some samples of what those messages look like when they hit Twitter:

Don't auto tweet Facebook photos

People that spend time marketing their businesses and engaging with others on Twitter actually frown upon linked profiles that generate messages like the “I posted a new photo to Facebook” example because they are meaningless tweets that clog their streams. Most Twitter users consider those automated posts spam – they won’t click the link, hop over to Facebook and look at an unknown photo.

Linking Facebook and Twitter in this manner can actually cause users to unfollow your profile (shown in the tweet samples below), and that’s not the goal of social media marketing.

People will unfollow you

So what is the secret to sharing marketing messages across multiple social media platforms in a way that presents your business in a positive manner and doesn’t annoy others? It’s simple actually. Generate unique content.

You can share the same general message but create status updates for different platforms based on character restrictions, image size, meaningful hashtags, and your target audience on each site. Messages shared on Facebook or LinkedIn should look different than those shared on Twitter.

Once you have content created for each platform you can use those popular social media management tools to schedule the posts individually, without linking and automating so much of the process.

When it comes to keeping up with best practices in the social media marketing world, this Maya Angelou quote comes to mind: “When you know better…you can do better.”

What are your thoughts on social media automation? Love it or not? Leave your feedback in the comments below.


Patti Rowlson is a marketing consultant and social media manager at PR Consulting, Inc. She helps Whatcom County small businesses identify, implement and consistently maintain marketing-related programs. Learn more about small-business marketing by connecting with PR Consulting on social media sites or by visiting www.pattirowlson.com.

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