Posted on: 5th Sep 2016 by: Steve Neill
Albert Einstein is famously credited with having said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. I regularly see a loose, almost reverse, manifestation of this in social media marketing, from brands, individuals and even supposedly expert agencies.
All too often a published post on one social media channel will be (knowingly) automatically published to another channel, or a piece of visual content that performed well on one channel will get used on another channel. A hospitality brand's Twitter update that is duplicated straight to their Facebook page. A personal trainer's Instagram post that is opted in to publish on their Twitter account. So rather than expecting different results from the same thing, we have an expectation of the same results from something ultimately very very different. What's different? Channels and users.
Firstly, and most obviously, how each social media channel DISPLAYS published content is different. Optimal image sizes, text layout, link displays are all channel-specific. Let's use the personal trainer example. If Miss PT writes a 2-3 paragraph piece of text to post with her Instagram workout video detailing the benefits and providing some personal insight (all great stuff) and then chooses to duplicate this on her Twitter she is immediately missing out. As Twitter is not Instagram, and as her content was created for Instagram, it is not optimal Twitter content. Her Twitter followers will likely see half a sentence, cut off by a link to take you to the original Instagram post. Similarly taking an image that is created to be published on Facebook will (hopefully) have certain considerations made so that it is optimal for Facebook - dimensions, framing, layout, logo position, font size of over-layed copy etc. Taking this and posting it on your Twitter account is a mistake because, again, it is being used somewhere that it was not created for. Twitter will display your image how it wants to, which usually means important parts of the image are hidden unless it gets clicked and enlarged. Each channel has it's own a considerations that make Facebook and Twitter as different as TV and radio, or newspapers and billboards. Imagine spending money creating a 30 second TV advert and then using it for a 15 second radio advert slot. You wouldn't. Imagine putting a 2x4 inch newspaper advert on a 15x20 foot billboard. You wouldn't.
Channels also differ greatly in how they PROCESS content. Twitter and Instagram have followed Facebook in 'curating' content so users are more likely to see what the channel thinks they want to see (and what the channel wants them to see). In general Facebook prefers showing videos and images rather than text and links that take users elsewhere. Why? So you don't leave Facebook to go consume content on a different website/app. Facebook pages for businesses and more and more upgrades to in-Facebook publishing are all attempts to keep users within the Facebook space. So Facebook is much less likely to show your Facebook page fans that duplicated Twitter post that contains a link to your blog.
Now, probably more importantly, consider users. Users THINK about social media channels differently. Consider your own personal preferences and consumption habits for all the different social media channels you use. Depending on your industry/brand/product/service someone who follows you on Twitter might not even want to see content from you on their Instagram. I, for example, follow plenty of individuals and brands related to my profession on Twitter, but not on Facebook, which I prefer to keep for non-work related creeping. On the flip side of this behaviour, users might want to follow the same brand on every social media channel so that they don't miss anything. By publishing the same piece of content to 5 different channels you're letting this user down, and they will eventually realise they can get it all from that one channel you update the most. Give them a reason to follow more than one of your social media accounts by providing them with content from one that they can't get from another.
Also, users USE social media channels differently. Back to Miss PT. If her Instagram post gets duplicated to Twitter (sub-optimally) and provides a link to go to the original Instagram post, it's highly likely the Twitter user won't want to click this link because they are currently using their Twitter and don't want to leave it. Imagine sitting down with your morning coffee at your favourite cafe, having 30 minutes to yourself to read the newspaper and finding when you open it that it is nothing but freeze frames of TV news reporters mid-broadcast with no captions or text except to say "go home and watch this live on your TV now" - if you wanted to watch it on the TV you would have. If you wanted to be browsing Instagram, you would be.
To summarise, your content should be created purposefully with unique considerations for every place it is going to be published. You will improve the quality perception of your brand, get the most out of each channel's specific algorithms, and accommodate each channel's, and ultimately your customers, user habits. So take some time, do some research and put more effort in if you want to get the best results you can out of each social media channel you are active on. You'd be insane not to.
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