Probably one of the most often-heard queries from people new to social media, is ‘How do I link Facebook to Twitter’.
These are usually the people that are either lazy, or they ‘get’ Facebook but not Twitter, so they just auto-feed one with the other.
Linking your account to Twitter is quite easy and widespread. I’ve even seen experts recommended it. But doing this can cause problems, the worst of which is unwittingly removing the context of your Facebook status update when you add a link.
When you post a status update, if you have linked your account to Twitter, Facebook will shorten the link using its fb.me domain and post it to Twitter. It looks something like this: fb.me/123456
Facebook will cut off your longer message at around 115 characters to allow for the shortlink to fit, and the complete tweet just fits into the 140 characters allowed on Twitter. (continued post-image)
If there is no link in the update, the shortlink will go back to the Facebook post. No problem there. However, if there is a link in the post, the shortened URL will skip the post content (your comment) and go straight through to the link which was added on Facebook, leaving only 115 characters of the potential 63,206 – the limit on Facebook updates.
People will click on the link based only on what the preceding message says, so the context is rather important. Nine times out of ten, the start of the message bears some relation to the link property, but if, after the 115-character mark, you change your context, and link to something that expresses that change, the message is spoiled because the rest of the message is gone. Here’s an example (using a youtube link):
This makes me so happy. My mother used to tell me that if I ate meat I would grow up big and strong and have a healthy life, but the day I saw this video, I became a vegetarian, and I have campaigned tirelessly to make a difference for these animals. Today I learned that the law has been changed and there are much tighter controls on how animals are treated in farms. This video is sick, but I have achieved something great. http://youtu.be/qf0_0zVwByA
When Facebook sends this to Twitter, it will look like this:
This makes me so happy. My mother used to tell me that if I ate meat I would grow up big and strong and have a… http://youtu.be/qf0_0zVwByA
You can see what has happened. (I’ve used the original YouTube link but this would have been shortened by Facebook)
I’ve made this example up, but twice in the last week, I’ve seen someone query the response of a post on Twitter where the context of the original post on Facebook was lost because of this.
And the example may be extreme too, but the whole point of having Facebook and Twitter is giving yourself two different platforms on which to express yourself, but by linking them, you are forcing your message on Facebook to have the meagre constraints of Twitter. It’s like trying to publish broadsheet content through a tabloid format, it’s not designed to fit.
The solution is simple – don’t link the two. I always advocate that the amount of time spent on posting to each is well worth it.
Writing concisely for Twitter is a world apart from the verbose freedom of Facebook. Be brief on Twitter, Be expressive on Facebook. Don’t link them. If you haven’t got time for Twitter, make some or don’t use it.
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