I don’t auto post to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Google Plus or LiveJournal. I stopped about a year ago, and since then, I’ve stopped crossposting to everywhere except the places I actually frequent. That’s not to say I don’t skim Tumblfeeds (the spam monsters than they are) or check in on my LJ communities. It means that I no longer have any code that automatically posts to those places when I make a new blog post. Any time you see a link to my posts on another site, made by me, that means I took the time to log in and fill in the data by hand.
Why? Well, I’ll jump around chronologically and tell you that a pair of articles hit my feed recently. First, one about how “3rd party APIs […] are punished in Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm” (Source: Edgerank Checker — Does Using a 3rd Party API Decrease Your Engagement Per Post?) and the second, which linked back, said that pages that auto publish lose 70% of ‘likes’ and comments. (Source: Insider Facebook — Study: Auto-Posting to Facebook Decreases Likes and Comments by 70%)
Both of those back up what I’ve always said about SEO and HEO. If you want people to come to your site, you have to engage with them. That means you need to interact, not spam, and converse. Find out what they like and how they like it. They hammer home a point that was obvious to many of us old hats know, but many young bucks ignore. You have to be in touch with your readers, and no automated system in the world can do that for you.
Now, certainly, I use tools like Google Analytics’ Campaign feature, and Crowdrise, to help me determine what posts of mine are popular, when and where, and attempt to comprehend the why of it all. It’s a very fuzzy science. I know I hit paydirt when my @-replies on Twitter are coming so fast I can’t keep up, and my comment-feed is burning a hole in my screen. But until we perfect an AI that knows, before I do, what I want, we’ll never have one that can predict accurately what we need to do to make our sites popular. And we all know that popularity is the end game.
Popularity has a strange converse, though. For example, you may think that auto-tweeting your blog posts is a great idea to get the content out there and read. This is true, but I found that the more I auto-tweeted, the more splogs came to my site! That’s right, I was increasing the attack of content scrapers, and tweet bots that spam, which in turn decreased any SEO benefit I might have acquired. Sucks, doesn’t it? Thankfully, manually crafting a quick tweet, and taking the time to phrase it right, got me more traction than anything else.
The other massive downside to auto-posting on social networks is that you rarely get to make the post look the way you want to. I want to pick which image I’ve attached to be the thumbnail, and I want to make sure my custom excerpt (which I always write) is picked up, and I want to maybe put in an extra explanation on G+, but not on Tumblr or Facebook, and … you know, I want people to know I’m thinking about them.
There is a huge desire to share everything with everyone. To tell your friends in one social network the same things you tell them in others. And for self-promotion, this is big as well. But as the media is learning, a blanket advertisement like you see on TV doesn’t work so well anymore. How many commercials can you remember well? I can remember the Old Spice guy and the Most Interesting Man in the World (also a couple weird phone commercials), but we don’t always remember the products, nor do we actually always buy the product being advertised. I don’t use Old Spice or Dos Equis. Still, blanket ads are hard to land, since you don’t know who’s going to read your site. Similarly, blanket ‘Hey look at me!’ is hard to make efficient, because you’re not reaching out to your audience and making them a part of your process. You’re shouting at them, not talking with them.
What about those of us who aren’t advertising. If you’re crosslinking just to share with friends, an automated system seems fine, except these are your friends and don’t you want to be personal with your friends? Don’t you think they deserve the time and effort of a real ‘Hey, this is what I’m up to!’ instead of a blanket letter? Wouldn’t it be nice to say “Bob, I thought of you when I wrote this because of that conversation we had about …” Or if you send it to a group of your friends and Bob’s, then Bob feels great because you’ve brought him into the conversation and your friends know you think about them.
The funny thing about this is I also stopped scheduling posts. I used to set posts up to run once a week, minimum, even if I was going to be off line. Now, because I want to interact with people, I post them only when I know I’ll be around.
The next time you see a social media post of mine, linking back to a blog post, know that I took the time and effort to link it. If it’s styled pretty, I did that on purpose. I try to make it personal and not just slap a link up, and I think that effort shows, and comes back to me in pageviews, comments and likes.