In an ecommerce market where time is money, being able to sync your main social media profiles can bring some much needed efficiency to your operations. But will you have to sacrifice the effectiveness of your messages to do so?
Every ecommerce business is constantly on the lookout for more customers, as well as the cheapest way to reach them. As a result, it’s no surprise that the never-ceasing rise of multi-national social media platforms – which connect hundreds of millions of diverse people across the world for free, covering virtually every location and socio-economic background – has been seen as a goldmine by many.
In many ways, this is absolutely spot on. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are free to establish yourself on and, with an effective strategy, it costs nothing to build up your following. You can target specific demographics, build loyal relationships with your fans and regularly post links to your products and services at any time, all at no cost. And sure, if you want to resort to it, there are payment advertising option too, which themselves are relatively cheap compared to other marketing options.
But, as with all things that seem too good to be true, there is a snag. The reality is, social media isn’t actually free. Moneywise, maybe. But time-wise, not in the slightest. Regularly updating your profiles not only takes hours out of your day – in which time you could be making money through other business operations – but you have to stop whatever you’re doing frequently, losing your focus and harming your rate of productivity. On top of that, if you want to build a sizeable following that will translate into noticeable benefits then you need to know your stuff about social media management, which again requires the time to revise and learn. This is often far more important than business managers realise at first, especially when you bear in mind that every post, tweet and status only gets seen and read by a handful of your followers. Alternatively, you could hire a staff member who knows their stuff already, yet they’re going to command a salary which defeats the point of doing it for free. ‘Time is money’ may be one of those painful clichés you hear far too often, but it’s a cliché for a reason and social media proves why.
But there is an alternative, albeit imperfect, option. Many apps, services and likewise enable you to sync your various platforms together, a process which allows you to post a single message that is broadcast across all platforms at once. Such devices can also come with a variety of other features, including scheduling posts ahead of time. We’ve listed a few of the best in the market below, but firstly it’s important to know the pros and cons of using these platforms, as they’re a godsend in many ways and a strategy killer in others.
Pros to keeping it all in one place
The first benefit answers the conundrum we’ve drawn up above: it saves you time in the day-to-day running of your operations. You craft your message, link to whatever product or service you’re selling and click ‘post’, then you’re done. The message has been transmitted to your masses of followers on every platform, alongside some of their followers and whoever else may see it through the sharing culture of social media. Now you can’t always give an exact estimate on how much time you’ll save every day: after all, if you’re sending one message to 10,000 people rather than ten messages to 1,000 people each, there’s a good chance you’ll spend more time double-checking that single bunch of words than you did for the other ten individually. Yet ultimately if you go from 10 messages to one, you’ll inevitably save a lot of time that can then be spent productively elsewhere.
A lot of you will probably be thinking right now ‘why 10 accounts? I only have three’. Therein lies another benefit of syncing your profiles together. Many ecommerce businesses using these main platforms will only have a single profile for each – one for Facebook, one for Twitter and one for LinkedIn. But with the ability to post messages across all at once, you can branch out and have a variety of accounts on each one. This is particularly useful in the ecommerce market, as most businesses sell a variety of goods which sometimes span a diverse range of customers. It’s difficult to build a single community between them as each wants to see posts about different things and will want to be spoken to in different ways. Having multiple profiles can resolve this, and syncing your platforms can allow you to do so in a time-efficient manner.
We mentioned earlier that it takes time to learn how social media works and how best to use it, from Facebook’s news algorithm to Twitter’s hashtags. Unfortunately, anything short of hiring a social media guru to run your accounts for you means this is inevitable. On the plus side, although you will have to learn the basics of each platform, if you’re only posting from a single app then you needn’t be experts in any of them. This makes a world of difference in terms of preparation, for whereas it may take you a day to get to grips with the basics of all three, it can take weeks and months of practice to reach an expert level on all of them. On a lesser note, only having to post from one platform means you only need one app on your phone and one tab on your laptop. The simpler you keep things, the less stressful they usually are.
The cons: short-term gain for long-term loss
So those are the benefits, now on to the downsides. You’ll find that the two often link to one another, with one mitigating or lessening the impact of the other. Take ‘time’, our main focus, for example. Yes, syncing all three platforms can save you time on a day-to-day basis. Yet, as mentioned beforehand, everyone goes on to each platform for different reasons and communicates on each in a variety of ways. If you’re sending a message that’s been crafted for a LinkedIn audience of professionals seeking work, then it’s unlikely to interest a Facebook audience looking for cat memes and a Twitter audience wanting to keep abreast of the latest trending news.
This doesn’t mean that the message will be entirely ineffective: you’ll likely snare a few passers-by and, over time, build up a following. But because your messages aren’t designed to fit the nuances and culture of each platform, they will get less attention than if they were. This also means that your followers tally will take longer to grow, reducing the speed at which the number of customers being diverted to your website increases. This is particularly damaging for one of the other supposed benefits of platform syncing, that it enables you to have multiple profiles on each platform. Ultimately, the point of doing this is that you post different messages in particular styles on each, thereby reaching out to a range of audiences in ways tailored to them. Send out the same message to all and you may as well have just had a single, less effective profile in the first place. Your non-customised messages could even end up doing more damage than good, as your audience may assume you don’t know them well or care enough to find out. All this renders social media less effective as a tool for growing your business. So syncing platforms may save time, but if it makes your platforms worth less as investments, then is that time worth spending at all?
As well as this – and as contradictory as it may seem – the whole argument about saving time altogether is up for debate. Whereas you can tally the hours spent on social media every week and show a marked decrease, in practice you will find that the most inconvenient part of social media management is having to stop whatever you’re doing to access it in the first place. As such, although the time you spend managing social media may decrease, the number of times you have to stop doesn’t, meaning that all the downsides to stopping itself – from losing your train of thought to having to re-motivate yourself repeatedly after each time – remain just as potent. Much of this comes down to the effect it has on productivity, and as being unproductive is the equivalent to a business as having less time, then you could argue whether this approach saves much time at all.
Hopefully those pros and cons can help you decide whether syncing your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles is the best approach for you. If you’ve decided to go ahead with it, then there are a variety of tools you can use to do so. Some involve merely linking different platforms together, so that whatever’s posted on one automatically appears on the other. Others involve downloading third-party apps or services that enable you to control your entire network over a separate dashboard. It’s worth bearing in mind that, whichever approach you take, you are still able to post individual messages on each platform if ever you want to.
Firstly, if you’re looking to simply link your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn platforms together, here’s how you go about establishing each connection.
To link Facebook to Twitter, go to this link and click ‘Link my Profile to Twitter’. Click the ‘Authorise app’ option and all your Facebook posts will be automatically posted onto your Twitter account.
Otherwise, if you want your Twitter posts to appear on Facebook, then click on the profile image in the top-right corner of your Twitter homepage, in-between the Tweet button and the searchbar. Select ‘Settings’ from the dropdown menu and go to the ‘Apps’ tab in the left-hand side list. Click ‘Connect to Facebook’ and, once you’re logged onto the site, a pop up menu will ask you to enable Twitter to receive certain information from your Facebook account. Click ‘OK’, set your privacy settings and your Tweets and Retweets will thereafter be posted automatically on to your Facebook profile.
Unfortunately you can’t sync your Tweets to appear on LinkedIn anymore, but you can do the opposite with LinkedIn statuses on Twitter. Go to ‘Edit profile’ on your LinkedIn profile, click ‘Contact Info’ and then the pen icon next to ‘Twitter’. Two simultaneous pop-up menus will ask you to ‘Add your Twitter account’ and ‘Authorise Twitter app’. Save changes after both of these and, when posting a LinkedIn status, select ‘Public + Twitter’ as an option from the dropdown menu.
Third-party apps and services
Alternatively, if you’re looking to install a third-party app to help manage your entire network, here are a few services to consider. Although these are some of the biggest and best on the market, bear in mind that there are countless different models available and that it may be worth trying out a few before you settle on which one works best for you.
With over 10 million worldwide users, this is the self-professed “world’s most widely used social relationship platform”. It covers more than 100 apps – from our main three to lesser used ones like Zendesk and Marketo – as well as similar online functions for emailing, storing information and otherwise. All this creates a centralised hub for every aspect of your online social activity, so as third-party apps go it is incredibly thorough, as are its reports and statistical analysis. All this can make the entire program quite complex to get used to, but it’s simplistic enough if you stick to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
It might not be on the same scale as Hootsuite, but DrumUp can offer a different take on how to save time on your social media management. The app searches through the internet to find content that is relevant to your audience and brand approach, then publishes it upon your command across your various platforms. Admittedly this doesn’t help ecommerce business owners to market their products or services, as you already have the content for them. Yet it can be a quick and efficient way of building up a following over time, as the content DrumUp finds will help provoke more interactions and, with it, bring in more likes, followers and connections.
Much more similar to Hootsuite’s dashboard is Buffer, where you can schedule posts ahead of time across various platforms. You’ll find that many of these apps perform roughly the same functions, which is why it’s worth trying a variety of them to see whose layout, features and otherwise work best for you. After all, Hootsuite may have the most extensive range available, yet two million people still chose Buffer instead. With this program, although your scope is quite limited with the free version, the paid ‘Awesome Plan’ upgrade should give any small to medium-sized ecommerce business enough features to cover all operations.