Dear Socially Stephanie,
How much should you differentiate your message when you post on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn? Does the overall tone and message vary even for the same subject, or does it not really matter?
Professor in Princeton
Dear Professor in Princeton,
Well, well, well aren't you on to something! I'm glad you brought this up, because it is a really important question. So let me start by saying this: context is just as important as content, if not more so.
Social media success relies on your ability to communicate with your audience in the way the social network you are using dictates. Let's think of social media as a big college campus - say, Indiana University. Each social network represents a different class. Just as you wouldn't show up to your creative writing class with a calculator, you shouldn't show up to Twitter with a long post that's meant for your blog. Got it?
The bottom line is: keep the content geared towards what the users on that network are used to, the content they enjoy consuming. Does that meant the content should be completely different on each network? No, not at all. It does mean that it needs to comply with what works where and when. To understand that better, we should dig into best practices on each network a bit to give you a guideline to work within.
LinkedIn is the network that people attend to for one reason and one reason only - business. In order for your content to get the most eyeballs here it has to appeal to the educational or money-making side of things. It should be straightforward. Business people don't have time to lollygag around all day, and LinkedIn isn't for casual perusers. Content on LinkedIn should be posted in the early morning or around lunch time, so that there's plenty of time left during business hours for people to see it.
Twitter is where people head to for news. Your content needs to be short, punchy and if it's really important can include an image. Images get more traction, but only when you use them correctly. Journalistic, broadcast style content works best, and clicking through to the link should be the call-to-action.
Google+ is the most sophisticated network of them all. Content here should be a bit on the longer side. As the network is male and tech-oriented, the content should reflect that tone. If you really want your content seen and acted upon, stick to the Communities, as they are highly active and highly engaging. Don't sound too sales-y.
Facebook is the nosiest network of them all. It's like recess or lunch break conversations. People are here to gossip, voice their opinion and snoop around. Light-hearted, funny and image- centric or video content will work magic for you here.
Now, even though you didn't mention them in your question, I'm going to give you a bonus. When it comes to Instagram and Pinterest, obviously visuals matter more than anything else. If you don't have a visual story to tell, don't waste your time on these networks. You'll be flapping your arms to stay afloat but won't go anywhere.
So what does that look like in the real world? One piece of content can be changed up in various different ways. When it comes to social media, it's not all about the bass, it's all about the repurpose. Well, there you have it. Good luck!
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