|Consider your audience before posting the same update to multiple social media channels
The root strategy for any public relations initiative includes creating your message, determining your audience, and finding the best way of delivering your message to that audience. But now, with social media, technology has given people the ability to blast identical messages to different audiences.
LinkedIn allows you to post your status update simultaneously to Twitter. You can automatically feed your tweets to Google Buzz. You can connect tweets with your Facebook status updates or your Posterous feed. And with third-party software like Tweetdeck, you can post the same message to multiple Twitter accounts, Facebook and LinkedIn with the touch of one Send button. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on whom you ask.
“I don’t cross-post, because I use each tool for a slightly different purpose. Therefore, I target messages for each audience,” says Angela Dockett, marketing and communications manager for the American Cancer Society in East Lansing, Mich.
“I’ve done it, but am starting to back off,” admits Jason Dobson, a professional gaming blogger in Broken Arrow, Okla. “Audiences can be quite different between social media sites, and the messaging needs to reflect that.”
Although there is some mingling of followers and friends from one platform to the other, the style of how people communicate on those platforms differs, especially from a language standpoint.
While Twitter often is filled with abbreviations and symbols, those same messages appearing on a Facebook page could be confusing. Still, that hasn’t stopped some people from connecting their accounts.
“I post Twitter to Facebook, because I have friends and family finally on Facebook that don’t get Twitter. It’s too much of a hassle for me to keep up with both,” says Colleen Lin, senior rich media producer for the Dallas County Community College District in Texas. When asked if the audiences were ever confused, Lin said they were at first.
“I had some complaints, but I find that most people ‘hide’ me (on Facebook) if they’re irritated,” she says.
For some entities, particularly government agencies and universities, cross-posting may make sense.
“We cross-post, using Facebook for students and future students; Twitter for corporations, media and parents,” says Laurie Creasy, a new media specialist at Penn State.
Creasy said they aren’t using quite the same message everywhere, but Penn State hopes all the separate networks see similar messages. She noted the messages on Twitter are “more professional.”
In Rhode Island, the state Department of Transportation uses the exact same message on multiple networks, according to Dana Alexander Nolfe, RIDOT’s chief public affairs officer.
“I have a very broad target audience, and I think my goal is to get my message to as many people as possible. With so many venues, and to ensure consistency, I cross-post my message,” Nolfe says. “Some social media have a good-size audience, and some are very small, but my feeling is if MySpace, for example, is the only place someone is going to go to get RIDOT’s message, then I am going to continue to ensure that the message gets out that way.”
Some argue that business accounts should be given some leeway when cross-posting.
“The audiences are completely different if you are coming from a personal perspective,” says A.J. Teachout, owner of Ulu Marketing in Detroit. “My Twitter followers are likely not my Facebook friends, or friends at all for that matter, so they will not care to hear about what my kid did the other day. My Facebook friends actually know me and care to hear more personal details.
“That being said, from a business perspective, I think it’s a wise move. Your audience is in it for the same reason—to learn more about the business and, likely, your messages will be similar.”
In the end, it’s up to the individual whether to cross-post. With social media being such a new conduit, there’s no proven right or wrong way to do things—yet.
“The bottom line is: Know your audience and how they might be different across multiple networks and social sites,” Teachout says. “How would that affect your message?”