This is an open letter to Twitter users who automatically cross post their tweets to LinkedIn. I’ve tried being subtle. I’ve tried being diplomatic. Nothing seems to work. In fact, after I first suggested that people disable automatic cross-posting in my piece on Twitter Worst Practices last March, it seemed the number of abusers increased rather than decreased! I brought the issue up again in my recent post about improving the LinkedIn activity stream, but the problem persists…
How can I get through to you? How can I convince you that this is a bad idea? How can I compel you to cease and desist? Perhaps I should appeal to your self-interest, using a “tough love” approach, bluntly stating the main reasons you shouldn’t automatically cross-post from Twitter to LinkedIn:
- What you think makes you look like you’re “in the know” actually makes you look like you “don’t know what you’re doing.” The communication norms for Twitter and LI are completely different. Status updates don’t have the same character limits. Hashtags are meaningless in LinkedIn. Many RTs and all messages directed at single individuals are non-sequiturs when taken out of context. And most Foursquare checkins and Empire Avenue updates appear unprofessional.
- Cross-posting makes you look more lazy than efficient. Most sophisticated social media users know that whatever time they save by automatically cross-posting isn’t worth the cost of saying the wrong thing, in the wrong way, and/or in the wrong place. As noted above, the communication norms in various social networking platforms – especially LI and Twitter – are different. If you can’t bother to make the modifications necessary to respect those norms, why should people bother to pay attention to what you’re saying?
- Imposing your Twitter activity on your LinkedIn connections is kind of rude. If someone you’re connected with on LinkedIn wants to follow you on Twitter, they can easily do so by looking for your Twitter handle(s) on your profile and clicking the “follow” button. If you’re truly a proponent of leveraging social media, demonstrate that you can “walk the talk” by abiding by one of its core principles: allowing people to “opt in” rather than forcing them to “opt out.”
- When you talk too much, no one listens to a word you say. Presumably the objective in sharing is to be heard, but the ironic result of oversharing is that you get tuned out. The acceptable frequency for sharing updates is far lower in LI than in Twitter (see the results of this LinkedIn poll for confirmation), so a single post a day is the maximum to aim for. If you’re an active Tweeter, and particularly if you “cluster tweet,” at best your updates will be ignored – and at worst, you’ll be hidden in the LinkedIn stream because you’re creating too much noise (I’ve now hidden over 40 connections because of this problem).
- What you think is promoting your individual/organizational brand is actually probably undermining it. LinkedIn is a professional networking site, which means that what you share should be focused on things that are directly relevant to your job, your career, and/or your organization. It’s okay to show your personality, but it’s not okay to get too personal – especially if you’re connected to folks you don’t know very well. Similarly, just as you modify the way you dress and talk in “bricks and mortar” professional settings, you need to demonstrate the proper respect for time and place in digital workspaces as well. If your Twitter activity isn’t professionally focused, it shouldn’t be connected to your LinkedIn account.
- It’s not the cool kids who matter – it’s the unhip. It’s easy to disdainfully dismiss people who don’t “get” Twitter the way you do as Digital Era Luddites, but it’s also misguided. Just as the “meek shall inherit the earth,” so shall the digital rookies determine the success of various social media platforms – and their early adopters. LI’s future growth depends less on the power users and more on later adopters and the value they derive from their membership. If you really want to leverage LI for professional success, you should do your part to ensure that LI avoids the “MySpace syndrome,” where spam and noise overwhelmed quality content.
I’m not saying you should never cross post. What I’m saying is that you should be thoughtful about how you share content on different platforms. With Twitter and LI in particular, the alternatives are pretty straight forward:
- (Marginally) acceptable approach: If you’re not an active Tweeter and your tweets are professionally focused, you can automatically connect your Twitter activity to your LinkedIn account. But those are two big IFs, and most of the people creating the problem don’t meet them.
- Better approach: Connect your Twitter and LI accounts manually, using the #li and #in hashtags on those (infrequent) tweets you also want to post as LI status updates.
- Best approach: Disconnect your Twitter and LI accounts. If you have something you want to share on multiple platforms, it’s simple enough to copy/paste and edit it.
It’s great that you’re an active Twitter user. It really is. And it’s great that you see the value in leveraging multiple digital platforms to achieve your goals. But be smart about it. Don’t let your enthusiasm overshadow your good judgment. Be a “Digital Do,” not a “Digital Don’t.”
- Courtney Hunt
PS - Ironically, I created the lead image for this post using a graphic in a PCWorld article from almost two years ago that announced the LinkedIn-Twitter partnership and cautioned users to avoid the very abuses that have come to pass! Oy. You might want to read that too.