In February 2018, Twitter announced new guidelines around the use of automation and multiple accounts. If you use automation (such as scheduling tweets to be posted later) or manage multiple Twitter accounts, it’s important to understand and follow these new guidelines. Read on for more on the changes and how Hootsuite is making changes in our platform to help customers comply.

As Twitter explained in the announcement on their blog, the changes are intended to keep Twitter safe and spam-free. “One of the most common spam violations we see is the use of multiple accounts and the Twitter developer platform to attempt to artificially amplify or inflate the prominence of certain Tweets. To be clear: Twitter prohibits any attempt to use automation for the purposes of posting or disseminating spam, and such behavior may result in enforcement action.”

The new rules target bad actors abusing social networks to create and spread spam and fake news, essentially by making it harder to create or control accounts to make it look like a particular point of view has more support than it actually does.

If you’re already following industry best practices for social media management (as outlined, for example, in our guide to Twitter marketing), the changes are unlikely to affect your business. However, it’s important to be aware of the new guidelines to make sure you stay within the guardrails.

What’s changing?

Twitter’s new guidelines prohibit the following actions:

  • Posting the same or substantially similar content, replies, or mentions over multiple accounts you control.
  • Creating duplicate or substantially similar accounts, with or without the use of automation.
  • Posting multiple updates (on a single account or across multiple accounts you control) to a trending or popular topic (for instance, through the use of a specific hashtag) with an intent to subvert or manipulate the topic, or to artificially inflate the prominence of a hashtag or topic.

If you use any social media management platform like Hootsuite to manage your Twitter accounts and activity, you’ll no longer be able to select more than one Twitter account when composing messages, or to use RSS feeds to post automatically to Twitter. For more details about the changes in Hootsuite, see this article.

What do these changes mean for you?

If any of these posting tactics are part of your current Twitter strategy, you’ll need to make some changes.

If your Twitter strategy involves tweeting the same content to a single account, note that the updated guidelines prohibit this specifically in the context of posting “to a trending or popular topic (for instance, through the use of a specific hashtag) with an intent to subvert or manipulate the topic, or to artificially inflate the prominence of a hashtag or topic.”

This point repeats language from Twitter’s rules, where the act of repeating tweets to a single account is listed as one among many “factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be spamming.” The list includes a number of other factors such as spam complaints, reports of buying or selling Twitter interactions, posting misleading or malicious links, and so on.

The bottom line here: Before tweeting the same content multiple times, consider your context and whether you’re complying with the intent of these guidelines.

For brands with many Twitter handles, this might mean moving to a model where you tweet content from a primary account and have other accounts retweet content as appropriate, rather than publish identical updates across multiple accounts.

In fact, even though it’s been possible to post the same content to multiple social networks (and multiple accounts) for a long time now, cross-posting isn’t a strategy we recommend. Each network has its own unique characteristics and users, so while applying the same strategy to multiple networks might seem like a shortcut, it can cost you more in engagement and authenticity than it saves you in time and effort. Personalization for each network is key.

For a more targeted and customized approach, consider cross-promotion: promoting content through the creation of unique messages for each social media channel.

A solid cross-promotion strategy helps you speak the language of each platform, and can actually help increase the reach of your content. Check out our article on cross-posting vs. cross-promotion for examples of brands that are acing their cross-promotion strategies, and for best practices you can follow to make this strategy work for you.

For Hootsuite customers, we’re making changes within our product to help you stay within these new guardrails on Twitter. For more details about the changes in Hootsuite, see this article.

Social media is an amazing platform for building meaningful connections between people. And while automation can serve as a valuable tool for creating those connections at scale, we’re all in favor of social networks recalibrating the scales from time to time to keep them from tipping in favor of bots and spammers.

Here’s to keeping it real—and human—on social.