I’ve been thinking about the distribution of my content across the various social networks. My challenge is to use the social networks in a way that benefits me and my readers, while keeping control of my brand and managing my content at a central, owned-by-me location. That location being here at Newsome.Org, and my primary distribution tool being the “Send to” feature of Google Reader. I consume 90% of my online content via Google Reader.
Networks I Use
At this point, I use two primary social networks.
I use Twitter (follow me, if you’re interested in hand-picked links to good tech, music and life articles) as a largely list-and-search-driven resource for third party content. You simply have to rely on lists and saved searches to manage what would otherwise be complete chaos. Via Twitter I give (via my hand-curated “Interesting” links) and receive (via lists and saved searches) links to stories of interest. In other words, the “what are you doing” Twitter updates are of very little interest to me (mostly because, as we’ll see in a moment, I find Facebook much better for that sort of thing), but the pointers to news articles and blog posts are very much of interest.
I use Facebook (Friend me, if we are) as more of an interactive, conversation stream. I find the connections between people on Facebook much more meaningful, and much more enjoyable, than on Twitter. In other words, Twitter feels like an internet creation. Facebook feels more like real life.
They are very different things.
How I Share
Which means that content producers like me need to carefully decide what parts of our content get pushed where. Until today, I pushed all of my Twitter content into my Facebook stream. Primarily, this was to get my curated “Interesting” links into both Twitter and Facebook, via a one-click “Send to” Google Reader process.
I would send an item to Twitter, which in turn would be sent to Facebook. It worked, but it was noisy. There was too much static on the line.
For example, when I publish a new blog post, it gets linked in my Twitter stream, via the WP to Twitter plug-in. Then, in turn, it would show up on Facebook, the same way. Like this.
But Facebook’s native sharing process produces a much better stream entry, with a thumbnail, etc. It looks less spammy and more elegant, giving a result like this.
Duplication and Dirty Streams
Which meant that I had to either allow duplicate new blog post entries in my Facebook stream (bad) or manually delete the automatic Twitter posting and then re-post the item using the Facebook’s native sharing process (inefficient). Ultimately, I found myself rushing to Facebook to delete certain Twitter-imported items and replacing them with native Facebook shared links. I felt like George Jetson on the treadmill, with no Jane in sight.
Then I finally realized I was doing it backwards.
The interactive quality of my stream (both incoming and outgoing) is better and more valuable at Facebook. So that’s where I need to use the most care. I very much wish I could one-click export selected items from my Facebook stream to Twitter. That would allow me to pick and choose the links and other content that I wanted to send over the Facebook walls, without having to clutter my Facebook stream with a bunch of imported content. But you can’t do that.
Tossing Twitter Out of Facebook
So I decided to cut the cord. As of today, my Twitter feed is no longer pushed to Facebook. Rather, my curated “Interesting” links will continue to be the most valuable part of my Twitter stream, and any of them that I want to also share in my Facebook stream will have to be re-shared. This double effort will serve as a mighty filter on my Facebook stream, which is good and bad. Good because the quality of the content will be higher. Bad because there will be some interesting stuff that never makes it into my Facebook stream.
Call Me Percival
Which leads to the search for the holy grail.
What I want, but have not yet found, is a way to share content from Google Reader one of three ways:
1. To Twitter (can do this);
2. To Facebook (can do this); or
3. To both simultaneously, but using each service’s native sharing API (cannot do this).
There needs to be a way to select, slice and dice and distribute content via a Google Reader “Send to” (or the equivalent), which will send the selected content to Twitter and Facebook, simultaneously and separately (without going into one and then being imported into the other). Another, likely easier to develop, solution would be to create an application that only pushed certain content from Twitter to Facebook. It would be rules based. For example, I could create a rule that would push any Twitter post that starts with “Interesting:” to my Facebook stream, but would not push other Twitter posts.
For me, this is the holy grail of social network sharing. I thought perhaps Ping.fm might be a vehicle to do this or something acceptably close, but I don’t see a way to push the same link through Ping.fm to Twitter as a Twitter post and to Facebook as a natively shared (as opposed to imported) item. In other words, it seems my ability to push things from my Twitter stream to my Facebook stream is an “all or nothing” decision.
In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to share especially interesting items twice, in order to keep my Facebook stream clean. But I’ll keep looking for the holy grail. It’s out there somewhere, or will be one day.