In the social media world, a lot of the big news concerns new relationships between social platforms – Facebook and Instagram, for instance – but it is rare to hear about the cutting of ties between larger players on the social Web. Last week, however, Twitter severed ties with LinkedIn – meaning that LinkedIn users would no longer be able to automatically share their tweets via their LinkedIn profiles simply by syncing accounts. There is a good deal of speculation about why Twitter made this decision. Most likely,Twitter’s monetization goals are placing a desire to keep consumer eyeballs directed to Twitter, not LinkedIn.
As interesting as the reasons behind the split are, I am more focused on the impact, which, frankly, is making me almost giddy. This is one divorce that I’m celebrating, as I’ve long thought that the syncing of Twitter with LinkedIn was one of the worst social automation combinations possible.
Yes, I know many people who had their Twitter and LinkedIn accounts synced (including some friends and other marketers whom I respect), but with no offense intended, I believe they were wrong. And even though the divorce is now final, there are still lessons to be learned. Here are four:
- The audiences are different – and the same. I would hazard a (pretty well-educated) guess that if you are using both Twitter and LinkedIn, the audiences you are speaking to have some overlap, but likely aren’t identical. Your connections on LinkedIn are significantly more oriented toward professional contacts, while your Twitter followers likely include a few friends, co-workers and more “social” connections. To be effective in any form of marketing, the first rule of thumb is to know your audience. The second is to speak to that audience in a way that engages them. In the cases where your audience overlaps, they are simply seeing the same content wherever they engage with you, and may tune you out. Where the audience is different, you aren’t thinking about why they come to LinkedIn and what content works best there.
- Frequency expectations are different. Twitter is a high-volume medium with a low-volume limit on individual tweets. It is an engagement platform as well as a broadcast one. LinkedIn, traditionally, is not. Few people keep their LinkedIn open all day and interact with status updates in a streaming flow of conversation, something that is common on Twitter, which means many of your messages will be missed.
- The content rules are different. LinkedIn is successful in its niche: business communications by and for business people. It’s a professional outlet with a professional tone. Even if you use your Twitter account primarily as a business or marketing tool, it is inevitable that a tweet will end up in text lingo, or include a smiley face, or even get into personal exchange that is better left on Twitter. For instance, I don’t think my professional connections on LinkedIn are the right audience to see my recent game of “Guess what the Braves’ Organist is Playing” (@bravesorganist), which I had on Twitter last week. LinkedIn status updates allow for more than 140 characters – use them and say something useful to your audience.
- You are squandering opportunities. While there are a lot of social media channels, there are only a few that touch a wide, mainstream audience. By syncing Twitter and LinkedIn, you’ve effectively reduced the number of social media channels you are using –and the potential for positive impact. Engagement is the key on the social Web. It’s likely you signed up for LinkedIn to expand your professional network and enhance people’s perception of you as a professional. Syncing channels is the lazy way out. Instead of syncing, take the time to find out what works best for each medium – what types of Updates get feedback from your connections, what Groups to join that foster your professional reputation and garner increased networking for you and your business. A tweet on LinkedIn is just as inappropriate as a press release on Facebook.
The fact is, well-done social media marketing takes time. There are few shortcuts that make sense, and automation is (still) not the answer. If time constraints make it difficult for you to spend the time needed on many different social channels, then limit your use to those where the majority of your audience is. Better to do a few channels well than try to do them all and end up losing their attention, or worse, annoying the same people you are trying to engage.