Facebook may be dominating the headlines at the moment, but marketers need to be aware of a Twitter development that comes into final effect today.
In what amounts to a crackdown on spam, bots, and ‘malicious’ activity, Twitter no longer allows people to post identical or highly similar content to multiple accounts.
The policy change was introduced to Twitter and TweetDeck on February 21, while third-party tools such as social media management platforms have had up until today to comply.
Twitter now bans:
- Simultaneous actions such as likes, retweets, or follows from multiple accounts
- Bulk, aggressive, or very high-volume automated retweeting
- Applications such as bots that coordinate posting activity across multiple accounts
- Repeatedly tweeting the same, or very similar, content from the same account
Only one type of application gets a pass—bots “that broadcast or share weather, emergency, or other public service announcements of broad community interest.”
The policy change isn’t intended to limit communication, after all. It’s about cutting down on fake followers and falsely inflated tweets.
At the time of the announcement, Twitter’s Trust & Safety Manager Yoel Roth said:
“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.”
But I’m no spammer—what does this mean to me?
The Twitter announcement stated:
“These changes are an important step in ensuring we stay ahead of malicious activity targeting the crucial conversations taking place on Twitter—including elections in the United States and around the world.”
That would be the 50,000 plus Twitter bots linked to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
However, posting to multiple accounts using bots and other apps isn’t just the preserve of machiavellian trolls; a lot of companies do it, too—innocently of course, as a kind of time-saving Twitter bulk action.
A typical example would be international companies with multiple local Twitter accounts.
But innocent or not, everyone is affected by the Twitter update.
We’re committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress.
— jack (@jack) March 1, 2018
Twitter Co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey weighs in.
There’s nothing to stop you
Unlike on Facebook, where non-compliant posts are often deleted, Twitter as yet has no mechanism to stop you from posting to multiple accounts.
But now if you post identical content across accounts, you will be caught and face potential suspensions or bans.
As reported by Buzzfeed, Twitter has already swooped upon and suspended a number of popular accounts run by “tweet deckers”—individuals or groups that mass retweet posts to create a phony virality.
Are you a Falcon.io client? You are covered as our platform now prevents multiple account tweeting—see the details here.
No quick fix solutions, only a change in practice
The solutions and lessons here are closely related to Facebook’s recent algorithm change, which also signaled an end to some bad posting habits.
Unfortunately, there is no way around the labor of having to customize each tweet now. You will need to post new (or at least slightly different) content each time.
On the plus side, this is best practice, as we’ll get into in a moment.
What to do instead…
If you’ve been spamming people, well, stop it.
Twitter itself recommends retweeting content from one account on the other accounts you wish to share that post from.
However, they warn against retweeting the same link over and over—automated retweeting of this nature could land you on the wrong side of the new policy.
That’s why you should limit retweeting yourself to a small number of accounts under your direct control.
But what’s really needed here is the same advice given to Facebook marketers in the wake of the recent algorithm change:
Mix it up
The key to good content has always been variety—so now is the time to branch out.
After all, engagement numbers with videos and images only continue to rise on social media, so make these a fixture of your Twitter feed.
Quotes, too, are proven to be highly popular on Twitter—in fact, tweets that include them are retweeted 19% more.
A low-hanging fruit is to curate content, i.e. retweet good stuff from your company’s partners and other relevant sources.
Genuine influencers, those followed because they offer real value to your industry, are another “real” way to amplify your tweets.
And don’t forget employees. Harness their networks to get your tweets out.
Employee advocacy is one of the strongest forms of word-of-mouth marketing because pride is infectious. We’re all impressed by brands that people are clearly proud to work for.
…and what this all really adds up to: be more human
At the end of the day, this is about Twitter fighting spam bots and bot-like behavior.
And while this does mean extra work for people who weren’t abusing the system, it also forces us back to the founding ideal of social media: meaningful interactions between real people.
It also necessitates that we concentrate on quality over quantity—but that was already considered one of the key differentiators of successful content marketers in 2018.
The networks, they are a-changing, but there is no need to panic. We were already at a tipping point where brands had to reconsider their social media strategy and tactics.
This latest twist by Twitter may be a pain for many, but it does nudge us in the right direction.