February 14, 2013

Why you should cross-post by hand

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Why manually handling cross-posts keeps content in top form

Chris AbrahamWriting once and sharing many times is very compelling as is the sort of evergreen content that you can share repeatedly. There are exceptions, of course, but you should think twice about automatically sharing everything. Why? Well, cross-posting tools don’t make your cross-posts look as good as they could.

In this new world of Flipbook, Pinterest, and the new Google+, you need to make sure everything looks right: the correct photo or image (Facebook and Google+ allow you to cycle through the photos to find the perfect illustration), the correct post title (sometimes Facebook grabs an ugly title and you’re allowed to edit the title copy — though you cannot do that with G+), and the correct post description (both Google+ and Facebook allow you to delete or remove the description copy, though Facebook allows you to even edit the description copy.)


Google+ only allows you to remove the image and the description fully but not edit the title, which is annoying if the blog post you’re sharing doesn’t use a terse, descriptive, accurate title. That problem often happens when I share webinars from GoToWebinar. GTW Bogarts the title tag and description with its brand instead of the webinar it’s hosting.


And you’ll need to post anything you have by hand to G+ because, as of now, Google doesn’t allow cross-posting services to post to Google+ so you’re limited to auto cross-posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

bufferForm2-300x134And you have the time to do this as well because there are still no good ways I know of cross-posting to Pinterest and other places that aren’t Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Mind you, I love bulk-uploading content to SocialOomph, GaggleAMP, and Buffer, but I generally focus on Twitter. Twitter is a river of news and so can handle a little more flooding — a little more persistent posting — than the other sites can. Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn handle duplicate posts badly because of their algorithms.

These default algorithms try to keep all the best posts alive, and push the best posts up, keeping them alive as long as they’re interesting.

Social media channels function differently

The same thing is not true on Twitter. It’s very rare for anyone to notice that one blog post or content piece is tweeted more than once. Why?

When you cross-post or auto-post from Twitter to Facebook, Facebook doesn’t automagically go out and find the link, follow the link, and populate the pretty content the way it does when you do it by hand

Well, Twitter is a river and there is never the same audience from minute to minute; this is more true over time as even the lightest users of Twitter are now following hundreds of folks.  Your tweets are but a fraction of the tweets even serious tweeters pay attention to over time. Even when reading tweets through browsers like Flipboard, the Flipboard engine grabs one big bite of content, packages that content, and serves it like a morning tabloid paper.

The same cannot be said with Facebook, Google+, and especially Pinterest and sharing over to Tumblr, which is effectively a blog and should only be shared to once. OK, I have posted one article to Pinterest many times when there are good illustrations in the post.  I sometimes post the same article again and again to Pinterest, once for each good illustrative graphic or germane photo.

Additionally, when you cross-post or auto-post stuff from Twitter to Facebook, Facebook doesn’t automagically go out and find the link, follow the link, and populate the pretty content the way it does when you do it by hand. When this happens, people tend to ignore Twittery cross-posts, which are basically a tweet and a Bit.ly or Twitter shortened URL. If you see below, contrast the post added by hand which shows an illustration, a title, and a description with the post that was auto-shared, which basically is just a tweet and enjoys none of the benefits of hand adding the content. Which one would you read?


Other issues include the Facebook bonk. Facebook likes to pre-cache remote content and if it goes to check the remote server and the server is unavailable (happens all the time with me because I crash servers with my love), then Facebook will always render that post as ugly, as you can see below:


Often, it doesn’t even work when I use a long URL.

It’s stuck on the moment it was added by someone when it was offline or under load. So what to do? Well, when I do all of this by hand, I can see this messing up. I have my own personal link-shortener that my buddy Phillip Rhoades created for me and I called rnnr.us, I do my own little hack and create my own work-around which generally works:


Et voilà!


Why did that happen? Well, if you notice that your URL isn’t coming through via Facebook correctly then choose another way in, be it via a different URL-shortner. If bit.ly doesn’t work, try rnnr.us, tinyurl.com, or is.gd.

So, in conclusion, I don’t really have a conclusion to pull this all together except for the fact that you sacrifice a lot if you make your systems too efficient. Yes, you might be able to blast your content everywhere, over and over, but if you insist on blowing tweets over to Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin, people will ignore your minimal spams in favor of well-formatted and rich-media shared content. If you blast your Facebook or Google+ content over to Twitter, your tweets will be shortened and they will generally not benefit from the sorts of industry-specific and relevant hashtags and @references that will give your tweets better legs.

So, while you may save a lot of time, you may well be wasting all that time as well, when it comes down to it. Focus on how to use browser tabs as well as copy-paste key commands like the rock star I know you can be.

Does your cross-posting happen automatically or do you take the time to manually cross-post your content?

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Chris Abraham is a partner in Socialmedia.biz. Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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  • deltina

    Hey Chris,
    Great post! And a good reminder for me. I get lazy and use my Hootlet way too often, I think. 
    However, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon on my Facebook page. It seems that the updates from HootSuite are seen by more peeps than many other updates – especially the imported blog posts.
    Any thoughts on why that might be?

  • jooblie

    I realize some of this has changed (this post is 10 months old) but I think the gist of the article still remains true. It’s easy to cross-post but more valuable to your audiences if you craft a custom message to each one.

    Personally i do both – I can’t do a custom message EVERY time, but it’s nice to do some once in a while (maybe 1/3 of the time or so).

  • HackerFinn

    The most annoying thing in my opinion, about quick cross-posting, is that if I post something on tumblr, it is also automatically posted on Twitter and Facebook.
    Twitter then proceeds to post a duplicate on Facebook as well.

  • Jane Phillips

    Hi Chris,
    Thank you for your article. I would also recommend you to check Blog2social wordpress plugin which has an advantage that there is no cron job required, which means you do not have to do any server side installation.