Cross-posting is the act of sharing the exact same post across different social media platforms, or on the same account multiple times.
Just like any bad habit, it’s tempting: it keeps your accounts active, saves time, and makes it easy to share your content widely. But the short-term advantages outweigh the long-term drawbacks.
Read on to find out why you should kick this habit, and what you should do instead.
Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.
Why you should not post the same message across networks
Cross-posting is like putting a text through Google Translate. You run the risk of getting a very weird result that looks careless and unintentional.
Instead, your content should be fluent in the language of each platform. Otherwise you’ll never be able to have a real conversation with your followers.
Things like caption length, image formatting, and vocabulary differ by platform. Sharing the exact same post on all of them means you might accidentally end up inviting your followers to retweet you on Facebook, or Pin your post on Instagram.
You may also lose part of your caption, or tag a handle from one platform that doesn’t exist on another, or lose your visual content.
For instance, Instagram lets you link your profile to your other social media accounts, and automatically share each post (along with its caption and hashtags) to all of them. However, these posts don’t always turn out the way you want them to. Instagram posts shared to Twitter include a link to the photo, but not the photo itself. You miss out on the engagement a visual would generate, and maybe part of your caption too. The result is a hasty-looking post that won’t impress your followers or inspire them to click.
Speaking of your followers, they’re not going to be the same on every platform.
LinkedIn has slightly more men than women, and most of their users are over 30. Instagram, on the other hand, has more women than men, and their biggest demographic are those under 30. As a result, it’s likely that the people who Like you on Facebook are not the same people who follow you on Twitter.
If you’re short-changing your followers on one platform by sharing content that was optimized for another, they’re going to notice. Seeing a post with a cut-off caption or a weirdly cropped image looks lazy at best, and spammy at worst.
The time you save by cross-posting isn’t worth losing your audience’s respect and attention. After all, if it looks like you don’t care about what you post on your account, why should they?
Why you should not repost the same message on the same network
Just like you shouldn’t post the exact same message across multiple platforms, you also should avoid reposting the same message within a single account.
You know that guy who tells the same story at every party, and everyone tunes out as soon as he starts talking? That’s how your audience feels when you repeat content—like they’d rather be elsewhere.
Your followers aren’t the only ones who notice when you repost content—the platforms are catching on, too. Twitter is one major platform that is limiting automation and identical content as part of their effort to curb bots and spam accounts. Other platforms are likely to follow suit and take steps to limit spam.
As a result, repeating content can result in more than disengaged followers: your account could get suspended. Stay on the right side of anti-spam rules by taking the time to ensure each message you post is thoughtful and deliberate.
Recycling is good for the planet. It’s good for your wallet. It’s good karma! But it’s not good for your social media accounts. There’s a better alternative.
What should you do instead of cross-posting?
Craft a new message for every network and post!
You should still be posting regularly across all your social media accounts, and engaging with your followers on each platform. But instead of repeating messages word-for-word, you should be writing a new post each time.
Crafting unique messages might sound like a lot of work, but you don’t need to start from scratch every time. Even small tweaks make a difference, and show that you’re paying attention.
Eyewear brand Warby Parker is great at adjusting their content to make sure it looks perfect on each account. A post about their Fort Worth, Texas store getting a new mural was shared as a photo on Twitter. But on Instagram, they took advantage of the option to combine multiple videos or photos into a single post.
Instead of sharing just the “after” photo, they included a video of the mural in progress, and invited audiences to swipe to see the final result.
— Warby Parker (@WarbyParker) April 5, 2018
Even tinier edits can make the difference between a post that looks sloppy and one that shines. Moe the Corgi doesn’t have a Twitter handle, but he has an Instagram account. If Warby Parker had copied their caption from Instagram, there would be a dead-end handle in the middle of their adorable tweet.
— Warby Parker (@WarbyParker) April 13, 2018
8 tips for crafting unique messages
1. Optimize content for each network
The content and format of your post should fit with the platform. Check your caption to ensure you’re using the right vocabulary for each platform. Add videos and images with the right dimensions. Use relevant hashtags and tag platform-specific accounts to boost visibility, too. These details separate the spammy-looking posts from the ones you want to click on.
Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.Get the free guide right now!
Here are some best practices for optimizing your content for different platforms:
2. Write an awesome caption or headline
Character limits vary by platform, so make sure your text is relevant, engaging, and authentic to your company voice.
Captions matter, so don’t rush this step! Think about what you really want to say to your audience, and how your caption can complement or enhance the visual content in your post. Test different captions or headlines with the same piece of content and see what performs best. This will help you get to know your audience better, and keep your feed dynamic and interesting.
Need a little help? Here are eight tools to help you write killer posts.
3. Don’t forget to edit
Always take a second look before hitting “send.” Ideally, have someone else take that second look for you. A fresh pair of eyes will always catch something you missed.
Watch out for typos, broken links, and hashtags that don’t mean what you thought they did. Here are 12 editing tips for creating posts you won’t regret later.
4. Post at the right time
Timing is everything. Know the best times to post on each platform and schedule your posts for maximum impact.
It’s also a good idea to stagger your posts throughout the day so that you have a steady stream of content, rather than a flood of posts at one time. Your followers will learn that they can expect regular content from you, which will build trust and loyalty.
5. Don’t post too much
Posting regularly is important, but don’t overdo it. Each platform has different norms around how often to post before you see a drop-off in engagement.
On Twitter, you can post several times a day to boost engagement. But posting more than once or twice a day on Facebook or LinkedIn isn’t an effective strategy for engagement, and may look like you don’t understand the culture of the platform. Think quality over quantity.
6. Share content in the right places
Tailoring your posts involves more than fitting your caption to the character count. They should suit the context and tone of each platform, too. Some content might not make sense on every platform, but that’s okay.
For example, check out how posting best practices differ between Pinterest and Snapchat below. They’re pretty varied.
Best practices for publishing content to the rest of the major social platforms can be found in Hootsuite Academy’s Social Marketing course.
7. Use a scheduling tool
Using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite allows you to schedule your posts, so you can spread them out and send them at the optimal times.
Hootsuite also provides built-in analytics, so you can learn what posts perform best and refine your strategy over time.
8. Have a clear call to action
Your posts should do more than share information: they should spark action. Writing a clear call to action is key for getting your audience to take the next step, whether that’s buying your product, visiting your shop, or reading your blog post.
Your post should make it clear to your audience what you’re offering, why it’s valuable to them, and why they should act on it—now. Here’s how to write an effective CTA on any platform.
Writing unique posts for each platform might require a little more time and effort up front, but it’s worth it. After all, you work hard to create great content, and your social media posts should show the same attention to detail. Trust us—your audience will notice.
Use Hootsuite to easily post and schedule content across multiple networks—with a unique message for each channel—at once.