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Social media activity around the Motorcycle Live show delivers empirical evidence of how ineffective it can be to feed Twitter automatically from Facebook.

It’s an issue we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts and a tactic too many businesses are still employing, so let’s be clear: having a Twitter account and doing nothing but feeding it automatically from your Facebook Page is NOT good for business. Some high-profile examples from the past few days help to demonstrate why…

Charley Boorman is going to be making guest appearances on the Triumph and Adventure Bike Shop stands at the NEC this year, and has been tweeting enthusiastically about it. For context, Twitter is Charley’s primary social media channel and he does a great job communicating and engaging with his 97k+ followers. He automatically feeds most of his tweets across to both his personal profile and celebrity page on Facebook. Through a quirk of how he has Facebook configured, it automatically shares those tweets back to Twitter again.

It’s very unusual to have side-by-side comparisons like this, but they’re a perfect way to illustrate relative performance. Notice how dramatically different the number of replies, retweets, and likes are between the original tweets and the truncated re-posts from Facebook.

Granted, because the automated tweets via Facebook happen after the originals, it would be reasonable to expect lower performance – but not to the extent shown above.

Because Charley uses Twitter directly, in his case the feeding from Facebook is a peculiarity that does no harm. The same can’t be said of brands that only operate directly on Facebook and relegate Twitter to being the unwanted child getting tatty hand-me-down content.

Earlier this week, Feridax made the UK announcement about the launch of the Shoei Neotec II flip-front helmet. As fans of Feridax and Shoei in general, and the original Neotec in particular, we were genuinely excited to hear the news, which was very well promoted on Facebook and via the press. On Twitter, however, it was a damp squib at best…

Compare the numbers highlighted in the red box above to the performance achieved by the original, unfettered post on Facebook…

Over 5,300 people are following the Shoei Helmets UK account on Twitter, while Shoei’s audience on Facebook tops 39,000. They might use the difference in those numbers to justify focusing solely on Facebook, but in doing so they’re effectively telling the 5,300 people on Twitter that they’re not important and Shoei/Feridax aren’t interested in dealing with them. Their reward of course is a complete lack of engagement, interaction and content sharing. No wonder there’s a difference in audience size.

Different brand, similar example…

Adventure Spec have a highly-engaged Facebook audience of more than 11,000 and they do a consistently excellent job of posting and sharing content via that channel. By contrast, less than 1,000 people follow them on Twitter. As with Shoei, the automated Facebook feed approach achieves nothing in terms of audience engagement, interaction or sharing (though presumably those links to Facebook do get a few clicks).

There are 116 Twitter accounts representing exhibitors at Motorcycle Live this year, and based on our social media benchmark research around a quarter of them are relying mostly or entirely on a Facebook feed.

Here are 10 reasons to stop doing that and to manage your Twitter account directly instead:

1) Your competitors are doing a better job

If 75% of Twitter accounts are being managed directly, then the majority of your competitors are already doing a better job of managing their social media than you are. Which means they’re creating opportunities to engage potential customers that you’re completely missing.

2) You’re not part of the conversation about your own brand

Whether you’re actively using Twitter or not, there’s a conversation happening on there about your business and its products. In most cases, businesses that only feed Twitter from Facebook (or Instagram for that matter) never look at Twitter at all. That means they’re not seeing comments and questions and don’t reply to them.

3) You’re telling customers you’re not interested in them

If people are interested enough in what you do to follow you on Twitter (or any other social network) then they deserve your respect and attention. Just feeding them boring, truncated, text-only noise sends a very clear message that you can’t be arsed to put a bit of effort in (though apparently you expect your audience to go to the trouble of clicking through to Facebook).

4) The customer is always right (in their choice of social network)

Some people will follow you on Facebook. Some people will follow you on Twitter (or Instagram or elsewhere). Some will follow you on more than one channel. Some will follow you everywhere. That’s the customers’/audience’s choice – not yours. Having created a bunch of social media accounts in the first place, you have a responsibility (to them and your own commercial objectives) to treat everyone the same. Ignoring portions of your audience is never going to be a good tactic for growing sales or delivering great customer service.

5) People react to images far more than text

As the examples above illustrate, automatic Facebook feeds create dull text-only tweets that don’t have a hope of catching anyone’s attention or interest.

6) People like and share stuff that makes them look good

…or at the very least, useful and not thoughtless. If your tweets are boring (text-only) and incomplete (often therefore non-sensical or lacking context), don’t expect anyone to want to share them.

7) You’re taking the conversation away from Twitter

Assuming anyone bothers to click on one of your Facebook links, any interaction they have with your post will be on Facebook. They’re highly unlikely to return to Twitter to post a reply. Their comment or question might have sparked a great promotional/customer service conversation your Twitter audience would have seen and further interacted with, but you’ve missed that opportunity.

8) You’re not exploiting some of Twitter’s most powerful features

Aside from the lack of images and video, Facebook feeds can’t @mention other Twitter accounts, tag other accounts in photos, or use Twitter-specific hashtags. All of which massively reduce reach and levels of interaction.

9) You’re doing nothing to grow your Twitter audience

Instead of developing a powerful channel for direct-to-consumer communication, you’re allowing it to wither. That has negative implications for your brand and your competitiveness.

10) There’s no reason not to do a proper job

Will it take a little more time and effort? Yes, some, but not so much it has to be a burden and there are software tools and training to help.