One of the things I love about working and living in social media all day, every day is that it’s a loose network of self-creating, self-moderating, communities of choice. Everyone who is on a social network chooses to be there. Reasons are their own, but the networks that make up “social media” build, thrive, and die on the emergence of community.
This emergence is a big part of the power of social networks. Each one has its own voice and its own feeling. The community and audience are one in the same, and when you’re engaging, you’re speaking to and with that community.
One of my deeply held beliefs is that respect is necessary for effective, human communication. Without respect, a relationship of any kind breaks down over time. A big part of respecting someone is respecting their choices, especially if you choose to engage with those choices.
On social networks, this respect means being aware. Aware of the choices that your community and audience have made in network, aware of the voice of the network, and aware of the desires of the community.
This respect is one of the reasons that whenever I discuss professional social media management, I argue – strongly – against direct repetition of content across networks. Posting the same thing at the same time in the same voice across all of your social media outlets may seem like an easy “hack” of the preponderance of networks that it feels like you “have” to be on, but in the end, it’s just disrespectful. It’s better to do one, two, or three social networks very, very well then to be on ten social networks, and disrespecting most of them.
This isn’t to say that occasional repetition should always be verboten. There are times such as special announcements, purposeful series, or emergency communications when it makes sense to post the same thing across multiple networks. Some networks are also very similar, and sharing similar content may be the best strategy, though even there it should be done with an element unique to that network. It’s never effective to post 20 hashtags to Facebook, but on Instagram, that can be smart.
However, as a day-to-day social media strategy, relying on posting the same images, memes, insights, information, or even announcement at the same time, in the same voice, with the same management just is not effective. It doesn’t respect the community you’re engaging with. And the community will notice. There’s technical reasons – the most effective times to post on LinkedIn are rarely the most effective times to post on Snapchat, for example. There’s also emotional reasons – if you are spraying the same content across multiple networks without any awareness, then you’re not giving someone a reason to engage with you on different networks. You’re telling them that their choice and their community are merely a copy and not worth respecting – so why should they put effort into engaging with you?
As a social media manager, content creator, or human being, you should be thinking holistically about your community and your audience. Your choices matter – and so do the choices of others. So respect those choices and put in the effort to manage social networks uniquely.