Don’t Link your Facebook Fan Page and Twitter Statuses

Last August Facebook gave Pages administrators the ability to publish their Facebook updates to their Twitter accounts automatically. Administrators can decide whether to share updates with their Twitter followers at all, and if so, which type of information to share, such as status updates, links, photos, notes, and events.

This, my friends, is what my friend Chris Brogan has coined “robot activity.” I agree and would go further and say you shouldn’t do it.

This post is not focused on personal profile status updates and their link to Twitter. Though my opinion about that application doesn’t vary all that much, the focus on this post is for Fan Pages for organizations/colleges/celebrities (wouldn’t that be neat if celebs were reading my blog?).

Need some convincing? Let’s start here. (Note: Protecting the names of the not-so-innocent)
A tweet: Follow us on Twitter!

This shows up as a tweet on Twitter. Makes perfect sense to the Twitter audience, no? (Please note the sarcasm.)

The folks at Facebook seem to think they’ve built a tool that will “make life easier.” I’ve spoken with several small business professionals and higher education colleagues in recent months about this topic, and most don’t see anything wrong with it given how overwhelmed many are in the social media space. Using this feature would indeed make their lives a bit easier.

But-

Think about your audience. How would someone you’re trying to reach feel if they read that tweet above on Twitter, especially if they’re not connected to you on Facebook? Different people, different tools (usually). I think this makes the company/organization/college look amateurish. Let’s think about the reverse. Your Facebook Fans see your status on Facebook now as: [RT @username something rather random and unrelated to what’s going on on your Facebook Page]. People on Facebook don’t necessarily understand what Twitter is, let alone the “RT” and “@” monikers.

Need more convincing? How about volume.

  • The average Twitter user is used to seeing a higher quantity of tweets in a given day.
  • Effective Facebook statuses usually aren’t updated more than once a day, sometimes not even more than a couple times a week, therefore not expecting the higher volume typically seen on Twitter. (Your mileage may vary.)

By linking the two together, you overwhelm, and can come across as spamming, your Facebook fans.

Looking to make your life simpler? You can SMS (text) your status updates to your Facebook Page (as well as Twitter) and you can also use a desktop tool such as TweetDeck to update your Facebook Page status separately from your Twitter status, but in the same program without having to open multiple windows. There’s also a Facebook application called Selective Twitter Status, which will enable you to link only those tweets that end with the hashtag “#fb.”

Still need more convincing? How about duplication.

  • How many of your Facebook fans are also following you on Twitter? Gets a bit overwhelming for them to see the same updates in multiple locations, potentially making them less interested in what you’re saying. They may end up auto-filtering you out.

And the icing on the cake?

Let’s say you update your Facebook Fan Page status, which then gets pushed to your Twitter account. People reply to you on Twitter — but you’re not necessarily there. Or, vice versa.

If I’ve managed to convince you to remove the link between your Facebook Fan Page status and your Twitter status and you’re dying to know where to go to make that change, then head on over to http://facebook.com/twitter. They hide it well once you’ve linked them together.

Sound off in the comments. Am I missing some key points? Do you have a compelling argument for linking your Facebook Fan Page status with your Twitter status? I’m very open to being convinced otherwise, as long as you’re not a robot.

  • Great article and I’m 100% with you on this. We utilze a seperate but integrated approach to our efforts here @arkansasalumni making sure that we try to ‘add value’ to our channels. It is too common in Higher Ed to use gurila marketing tactics (put it every where and often) which means that people eventually go away. Also remember it’s about conversations & relationships first and for most you must try and help your audience not yourself.

    Also unless they have fixed it the FB tweets used to direct you to Facebook to click that (are you sure you want to leave & go to this site?) page which = a very bad user experience with your brand. After all if you are sending it (and they trust you) wouldn’t the destination be a ‘trustworth’ location.

    Again putting it as other say FB != Twitter != LinkedIn or maybe FB is the bar, Twitter the water cooler and LinkedIn the professional office.

    Remember to value your audience and they will return the favor!

  • Some great points here Rachel. A point that I’ve hit a few times when working with people both in higher ed and elsewhere is the “anything is better than nothing” answer.

    To a point – this is true. Sure, doing everything in context of its own sandbox is a wonderful thing to aspire to… but how to convince an organization (which, let’s be honest, is often going to be one overwhelmed individual), that updating each service individually is the way to go – if they aren’t yet convinced that they have time to deal with more than one service.

    Sometimes, I’d say its advisable to use Robot Status Updates as a stepping stone into updating each individually.

    Often it becomes apparent very quickly that when you post something to Facebook (from Twitter), people “like” it, or respond with a comment, or share it with friends. Then we have an “a-ha” moment! Something to build upon, rather than trying to convince someone to do, perceptually, “extra” work without first understanding the value of it.

    With value and experience comes true learning. If it takes a robotic presence to let someone get a feeling for what each community values – so be it.

  • I agree with all of this. The point of these accounts is to be social and interact. If you cant handle more than one account and need to link several, you basically should cut back on the amount you are doing. If not, you're just broadcasting, not interacting. Great post. 🙂

  • ekotite

    I made the mistake of linking my Twitter feed to my FB page. It was like continents colliding. In some cases such as a business/fan page it might work better (although as you stated, the immediacy of Twitter isn't well matched with Facebook's). The stream looked frantic, erratic, and I'm sure was completely overwhelming for my FB friends, many of whom do not understand Twitter at all. Facebook and Twitter are two different animals; one communicates to a “closed” circle, the other to a giant “picnic in a park.” And YES, I did have a hell of a time trying to figure out how to shut it off. I ended up sending a note of apology to all of my FB friends (which was another difficult thing to do with the list limits). As an ironic end note, many responded that while a little bewildered with all of the punctuation marks @ #, they sorta missed my tweets.

  • All good points. In addition, remember that you're restricted to 140 characters on Twitter, but you've got a lot more on FB — plus the ability to allow visitors to read a post and all its comments in one place, without relying on some third-party Twitter threaded-comments service.

  • Great post! I totally agree — Twitter updates that get posted on FB are a real pet peeve for me. And not just because I might be following the person/organization at both websites, but because the lexicon of the two formats are just so different.

    You also bring up a good point about the frequency of Facebook updates: how much is too much? To me, FB is a “less is more” environment — almost the opposite of Twitter. I occasionally use the Selective Twitter Update feature to update both Twitter and FB simultaneously, but I'm probably even more likely to manually cut and paste my Twitter update into my FB profile, removing hashtags and other Twitter jargon. (That is, if I post in both places simultaneously at all, which I'm less and less likely to do.)

  • Doug

    since day one i have linked all my social media networks together but you convinced me. im going to change that though so i can be casual on FB for my friends and all business on Twitter. i have still have not secured a printing order or new customer for that matter on any of the sights i subscribe to. its been about a year now since i started but i will keep going and analyze how i do use them for a better result.

  • Brenden Sparks

    That's something we discussed early on and decided on avoiding specifically for all the reasons you described. Facebook allows for longer status updates and that is something that should be taken advantage of. I think the audiences differ enough to justify crafting slightly different variations on the same message to both channels.

  • benjamincostello

    You make a compelling argument. Thanks!

  • drewmillikin

    Rachel,
    I agree with your overall point that original content is gbest, but I disagree with you that linking is to be avoided completely. I have Groton's FB and Twitter accounts linked, but it's not a two way street. FB updates publish to Twitter but not Twitter to FB. To me this makes complete sense as the content is interesting and why not expose two audiences to it?

    Like any other tool out there, it is crucial to understand how it works and keep your audience in mind. It also can't be the only the only tool you rely on as, like you said, a Twitter status is often updated multiple times a day whereas a FB status updated more than once a day becomes annoying.

    As for the 140 character limit argument out there, if you're posting more than that to a FB status, you're getting close to big block of text filling up my iPhone screen and IMO that's more like to get scrolled past than read.

    • We're going to have to agree to disagree. 🙂

  • Thank you for including the link to unlink the two! Facebook really does bury that information once they're linked.

  • jdross

    You make some very good points here. I will also say that if you have time time, it's probably a good idea to go through your Twitter followers and Facebook fans and find out who's who. What's the demographic? Who's following you in both places? What percentage are active with you? It's a huge undertaking, and one I'm just starting to get my arms around right now for my institution, but I think it's worth it to better understand your audience.

    • It's really unfortunate you can't get demographic info like that out of Twitter to do that comparison you suggest. And, to make matters worse, it seems so few people use the profile section on Twitter to really articulate who they are and how their interest may relate to your college/organization/group.

      • Yup, it would be much easier if the Twitter info was more straightforward. It has been a very manual process – pulling out all the names and then running them against various databases to see how they may be affiliated with us. It's certainly not going to give us a 100% success rate, but I consider it to be better than nothing!

  • Just because something is easy for you, doesn't mean it's what's best for your audience. Thanks for laying down the law and letting people know they need to step their game up on this one. Well done, Rachel!

    • Crackin' the whip. That's what I'm here for. 😉

  • I help out with a company who uses Twitter and Facebook. They have there accounts linked (I'm working to convince them to change). The most annoying thing with posting from Facebook to Twitter is there is an extra link that tracks back to the Facebook page. So if they post a link on Facebook they get 2 links in the Twitter update.

    However, if you aren't ready to start leveraging Twitter to it's fullest and are just securing your account name, it might be useful to link Facebook and Twitter. This way you have content that is going out.

    • I'd argue if they're not ready to leverage Twitter — or more specifically, if they're not sure Twitter will even be valuable to them — then just don't be there. I don't think linking the statuses is the right way to get their feet wet with Twitter, because they're truly not there.

  • Lane (and others ) — is it true that, when you post a FB link that gets automatically posted on Twitter, that you get that extra screen ONLY when the FB update is more than 140 characters?

    In other words, I wonder if this scenario is true:
    * If your FB update is less than 140 characters, it will post the same thing on Twitter without a link to your FB site
    * If your FB update is more than 140 characters, your Twitter followers will get a link to that annoying FB screen that shows nothing except for the full text of the same status update you've just read on Twitter.

    Any ideas?

    • @ICchris: Here is an example http://bit.ly/9qCifb less than 140 and you still get a link to FB, and you don't even hit their page. You hit a page that only displays the status with an option to comment.

      • drewmillikin

        That's a solid point. Hadn't realized that.

  • Okay. This makes total and utter sense. I am guilty of linking twitter to my facebook account, but for my own selfish reasons:

    I don't like facebook.

    Clearly, I'm a tool, because everyone loves connecting on facebook. Except me. I don't have high school friends on facebook. I don't have extended family on facebook. I really see no use for facebook, save one: it's where my real life non-techie friends hang out. And now I cannot believe I am saying this, but you may just have convinced me to unlink my twitter feed into facebook. I'm still thinking about it, but it seems inevitable in the face of your ridiculously logical arguments. Dammit. Only you, Rachel. Only you.

    • I'm not going to lie, I had you in mind a smidge when writing this. While this post was completely focused on the business aspect for Page status + Twitter status, I'm glad I got you thinking about the personal side. I will not agree that you're a tool, however. 😛

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  • I really appreciate the advice. I actually came across this searching for a way to link my companies Facebook Fan Page to their Twitter status, but subsequently you have convinced me out of it. Thank you!

  • nikkimk

    I have been using selective twitter status. Like @robin2go, I neglect my FB for long stretches. I use it to make sure I get my FB friends back into the conversation, but there are definitely conversations I don't feel belong there.

    I know people who have regretted FB linking. Twitter feels more conversational & in-the-moment. FB statuses are sometimes proclamational. Sometimes friends end up being relatives, colleagues or supervisors who take those in-the-moment snippets of conversation entirely out-of-context.

    With selective tweeting, I choose which sound bytes appeal to both populations.

  • Very valid points. Ever since Facebook released the ability to link your Facebook statuses to Twitter, a lot of schools jumped on board thinking it was a way to relieve some of the time burden of updating multiple social media sites. But they're missing the point that these are two very different audiences.

    My big pet peeve, as others have noted, is the fact that FB adds a link to the tweet. I work at a school that blocks Facebook, so if you're writing more than 140 characters or if FB just adds a link for no reason, I get blocked. I do have a login to bypass the firewall, but sometimes it just makes me more upset that I just logged in to the firewall for no reason other than to see the same status on Facebook.

  • You've definitely given me food for thought.

    I do have a couple of thoughts on why it might be okay to have a set-up in which Facebook feeds Twitter (NOT the other way around because of the volume and cultural/linguistic differences others have noted):

    1) Tweets go by and people don't see them!

    As long as you don't make it a simultaneous posting on both, which would mean seeing it once in the Twitter direct posting and immediately again in an identical Facebook posting, why not give followers a chance to catch it as it comes from Facebook?

    I think of tweets as a river flowing by. If you throw the stick in only once and it floats past when I'm not looking, I don't see it. The second chance via FB feed to Twitter might come at a time when you're looking. That's the same reason we might repeat information solely within Twitter once in a while (not in a spammy way): to increase the chances that followers read it.

    2) You might recruit some FB fans who now only follow you on Twitter by bringing them into the FB space via the link, which is where they need to be in order to become a fan of your page.

    As for concerns about being available to reply in Twitter when it went out via FB, there's no guarantee that I'm available to respond immediately in any case. As long as it's an @ message, I'll see and respond to it.

    That's probably the reality for just about anyone managing social media in higher ed these days–we don't have time to sit on the account all day and pounce on @ messages (or replies to postings on FB, for that matter).

    While things CAN happen in real time in these spaces, they also allow for asynchronous communication. I'm not posting anything so time-sensitive on Facebook that I'd blow it by not being available there or in Twitter.

    I wouldn't post messages on FB that look stupid when they get to Twitter, like “follow us on Twitter.” But “Here's a link to all our social media accounts” works in either space and fosters some cross-fertilization.

    Main reason I can see for not linking them, which you haven't mentioned–I'm a tracking freak and want to know all the click-throughs I generate in these spaces. I can't track stats on the automatically generated FB link the way I can a bitly link I create and log. If I want to know whether Twitter is driving traffic to FB, I'll do that via my own link.

    Since we don't do that many status updates, I don't see a real down side in having FB post to Twitter, frankly. Other direction? Absolutely not! (Learned that the hard way on my personal accounts, where I go to make all my learning-curve mistakes :D)

    @BarbChamberlain
    Senior Fellow, Society for New Communications Research @SNCR
    Director of Communications and Public Affairs
    Washington State University Spokane
    @WSUSpokane
    http://www.spokane.wsu.edu
    http://www.facebook.com/WSUSpokane

  • I agree with you on this one for sure! Before I jumped into twitter I was completely lost by the “[RT @username something rather random and unrelated to what's going on on your Facebook Page].” Each medium is used in different ways and for different purposes. At least to this point there is no effective way to link the two (although it does save time). TweetDeck or Selective Twitter Status, definately the way to go for now.

  • OK, I'm back to confess: I just followed a link on Twitter that took me to identical content on Facebook and I was really annoyed!

    It's an institutional account I follow on Twitter but not on Facebook so I wouldn't have seen it twice, but that link certainly didn't add value.

    The content of the posting was about tips for a certain activity but following the link didn't take me to the tips, it took me to FB where I could then follow the link to the actual tips. Felt like bait & switch.

    If FB would flag those links with a distinctive URL so you know you're going into FB, that would be a vast improvement.

    I'm disconnecting our connection now that tweets to @WSUSpokane when we post to http://www.facebook.com/WSUSpokane. Thanks for helping me see the light!

    @BarbChamberlain

  • My god, thank you so much for the info on how to unlink, never mind the smart analysis. I'd linked mine ages ago, hated the result, but not figured out how to unlink them. Facebook can be sneaky!

  • Paul raises the important point of the idiocy displayed in Tweets that contain links that take you back to Facebook. It's bad enough when you get to valuable content via Facebook, but when it's just to the Facebook page showing exactly the same text, it's maddening. The #fb hashtag showing up on Tweets, too, just announces, “We don't care about our audience; we just want things easier for us.”

  • Great article – thanks. I use Tweetdeck and found I instinctively didn't want to post my Twitter updates to FB. Maybe for the reason you said – they can seem a bit random on FB. Also I just prefer Twitter and find it easier to update than FB (though mine is a personal page not a fan page.) Shortcuts: same destination different experience.

  • Excellent! Thanks so much for the link to 'unlink' twitter- I had been searching Facebook for about 30 minutes until I stumbled upon your article.

  • Excellent! Thanks so much for the link to ‘unlink’ twitter- I had been searching Facebook for about 30 minutes until I stumbled upon your article.

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  • Mike

    I never actually thought about it that way. You’ve convinced me.

  • Nadiavdm

    Thank you soo much! i was struggling to find where I can unlink it! helped alot thank you!!