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To auto-publish or not to auto-publish?

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Friday, July 15, 2011
To auto-publish or not to auto-publish?
The issue of auto-publishing content from one source to others (from your blog to Facebook, from your blog to Twitter, from Facebook to Twitter, and all the respective vice-versas) is much debated.

(In fact, this is currently one of the more active discussion topics in the LinkedIn WordPress Group.)

I am not a fan of auto-publishing, and I've shared my opinions on the topic before (here and here).

On Wednesday, Inside Facebook published the results of their study: How People Are Engaging Journalists on Facebook & Best Practices, and they elaborated on their results on their Web site.

Among their many findings is this:
Personal analysis is effective: Posts that included the journalist's analysis and personal reflections had 20% more referral clicks than that of an average post.

They go on to say, under the headline of "Turn Off Your Auto-Publisher" (emphasis added),
The ability to include a long description of what's behind a link is one of the fundamental differences between Facebook and Twitter. While journalists and other content publishers may not prefer spending the extra time crafting Facebook posts, the benefits in traffic driven that this study shows should convince them the effort is worth it.

Pages that automatically cross-post Twitter updates or that auto-post when an article is published to their website should consider switching to manual publishing. Having a human writing copy specifically to accompany a Facebook post makes the news feed story seem more organic and personal, and therefore more compelling and clickable.

I agree with this conclusion.

On a related note, here is an anecdote from actual experience, offering yet another reason to abandon auto-publishing:

Yesterday, on behalf of a client who had an article published in an anthology available at amazon.com, I posted content about that article to his company Twitter timeline and to his company Facebook Page. The former is pictured above, at top; the latter below.

I published the link to Facebook first.

Had we enabled auto-publishing from Facebook to Twitter, the resulting tweet might have been truncated slightly — to make room in the 140-character Twitter limit for the link to the page on amazon.com. Granted, that wouldn't have been terrible.

The bigger problem would have been a missed opportunity.

It turns out that the book's primary author has a Twitter account — with about 50 times more Twitter followers than my client currently has.

So, before manually posting the tweet, I "followed" the author on Twitter on behalf of my client. Then, instead of spelling out the author's name in the tweet, I used his Twitter handle (as an @mention).

The result? The author received notifications that my client is now following him and that he had been mentioned in a tweet. The author then not only "followed" my client on Twitter in return, but he retweeted the tweet mentioning his book. (He even retweeted an older tweet from my client.)

Thus, in a matter of seconds, 2100 Twitter users (the author's followers) were exposed to a fellow who currently has only 42 followers of his own.

Will this exposure pay off for my client? Only time will tell.

Would this exposure have happened if we'd used auto-publish? Possibly not.

PS: Consider following Gary O'Sullivan on Twitter.
Jeff Cohan
Metro Atlanta-based nSiteful Web Builders is a full-service Web design & development firm. We have designed and built (and continue to maintain) Web sites and Web applications for businesses and organizations representing a variety of industries all over the country.

nSiteful specializes in dynamic, database-driven Web sites and Web applications for small and medium-size businesses and organizations for whom a robust, professional and compelling Web presence is instrumental to their sales, marketing, customer service and operational strategies.

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Metro Atlanta-based nSiteful Web Builders, Inc. is a full-service Web design & development firm. We design, build and maintain Web sites and Web applications for businesses and organizations in a variety of industries all over the country.
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