I know work is hard right now. But there is one time-saving social media marketing technique that libraries should avoid at all costs.

Libraries should avoid cross-posting on social media. Cross-posting is when you post the same text and graphics in a message across multiple social media networks.

I get why many libraries cross-post. Cross-posting is easy. It saves time and energy. And library staff have a lot of work to do. Even when there is no pandemic to deal with, librarians are often asked to take care of marketing along with their regular duties. But the detrimental effects of cross-posting outweigh any time you might save doing it.

Why cross-posting is a bad idea

Cross-posting is a bad idea because social media platforms are different. They have different standards for post length, image size, hashtags, links, and captions.

For example, LinkedIn is more copy-heavy and formal. Instagram is more visual and informal. Twitter is more suited to short quotes, threads, and GIFs. Pinterest is graphic-heavy. One post with the same text and photo can’t be all those things.

An image you post on one platform may not be sized for another platform. It may end up stretched, pixelated, or squished. This will hurt your ranking and engagement.

Speaking of engagement, the metrics are different for each platform. On Facebook, you’re aiming for likes, comments, and shares. On Twitter, you want retweets and replies. On Pinterest, you want comments and re-pins. One post can’t generate all those things.

Your followers are also different depending on the platform. Twitter users are overwhelming between the ages of 18 and 44. LinkedIn users are more likely to have a college degree than users of other platforms. 70 percent of Pinterest users are women. Every platform has a unique demographic with different needs.

When you cross-post, you risk looking inauthentic and spammy. Your posts will feel like they’re auto generated and robotic. It may look like you don’t care about what you post on your account or worse, that you don’t know you to use social media.

Your audience will respond negatively by not responding at all. That hurts your standing in the algorithm. It can have a negative effect on your reach.

What to do instead

Cross-promotion is better! Take your message and adjust it slightly to suit each social media platform. It’s much easier than it sounds.

First, you need a base message. What is the basic info you wish to convey? What is the action you want your followers to take? Answer these two questions in a two or three sentence nugget. This is your base message.

Then take that base message and adjust it for each of the social media platforms you wish to use. A tweak of a word or phrase here and there, an adjustment of an image, and a unique call to action are all you need to be authentic.

Westerville Public Library in Westerville, Ohio did a great job of tweaking this promotion for Twitter…
…and Facebook.
Here’s another good example of cross-promotion from Barlett Public Library District in Illinois. This is their Twitter post…
..and the same message tweaked for Facebook.

Decide how much time your library is willing to invest on social media. Smaller libraries will want to concentrate on the platform or platforms that will give their library the most benefit. If you are pressed for time, pick the platforms that perform best for you or the platforms where the audience you wish to target is using. If that means you only post on one social media network, it’s okay. Quality is better than quantity.

Use a scheduling tool. There are plenty of free scheduling tools that will help you to share your social media messages without cross-posting. I have used the free version of TweetDeck for my personal social media for years. You can schedule lots of posts in advance and the metrics are great. I recommend it for libraries without the budget for scheduling software.

At my former library job, we had a paid account with Sprout Social. It was easy to use and had more cross promotion capabilities than TweetDeck. I recommend it if you have money for a paid scheduling platform.

More library social media advice

How #COVID-19 is Impacting Social Media Marketing and What That Means for Libraries

Self-Care for Library Social Media Staff in the Midst of a Crisis like #COVID-19

What Metrics Demonstrate Your Library’s Social Media Marketing is Working?

How to Reverse Engineer Your Library Marketing Social Media Audiences!

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