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We all know by now that social media is an important part of building engagement, staying in touch with contacts, and for building our credibility. But can the mechanics of posting to multiple social destinations can get a little bit sticky?

In my view, sharing to multiple platforms isn’t just a good idea; it’s something you must do if you are going to connect and gain exposure with your audience. Let me share with you the two realizations that got me to that point, and then how I handle the “potential for social spamming and duplicate content” conundrums…

Realization #1: Your Social Accounts (Should) Have Different Audiences

I have a few thousand contacts each on Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. That’s probably not surprising, and those certainly aren’t huge numbers compared to a lot of the true influencers that are out there, but...

What you might be surprised to know, is that there is very little crossover among my contacts from one platform to the next. In other words, only about 10% of the people following me on Twitter are also connected with me via Google+ or LinkedIn. That means I have an almost entirely brand-new audience on each platform. If I were to “skip over” one or the other for fear of duplicating my message, I’d be missing out on huge opportunities for engagement in my networks - by a factor of 60%+.

While your numbers might be distributed differently, I encourage you to take a look and find out. You may be surprised at what you see. Outside of our closest fans and colleagues, most of us are engaged with others on the network they prefer to use.

Realization #2: Social Platforms Work Best When Utilized Uniquely

In theory, social is social. All the platforms work in similar ways, with images, links, hashtags, and ongoing discussions. But what about culture?

As any experienced marketer could tell you, there are some big differences in the way people interact with you on different social media sites. On Twitter, for example, sending tweets can feels like broadcasting to the masses; there is a very little back-and-forth involved (unless you are among those who use it similar to texting). Google+, on the other hand, tends to be rich with discussion, and topics can go very deep or even veer far from the ideas they originated with (which makes for some delightful relationship building). LinkedIn tends to focus on business and management (and can have a bit more of a starched suit feel at times), whereas Facebook comments will almost inevitably slide toward the more personal.

As a marketer, that clearly suggests that these channels have different uses and require a different kind of tone and messaging. And that’s to say nothing of the different technical challenges or message size limitations.

How to Successfully Integrate Multiple Social Platforms

With those two realizations out of the way, it becomes apparent that we shouldn’t be worried about duplicating ourselves over different social networks, but customizing what we have to say to meet the format and audience.

That means changing headlines, shortening introductions, and even using link shortening tools to make sure our posts are readable and well received (see my recent post on social sharing for more great tips). It may even mean editing photos to ensure they show up in previews or are easy for contacts to share.

Planning and customizing social messaging in this way takes more work, but it also brings a bigger reward. Why participate and post to social networks at all if we aren’t going to make the most of them?

It’s easy for your social posts to take on a generic feel, regardless of what kind of content you’re including, if you take a paint-by-numbers approach. When you use each one in an intelligent way, however – with an eye toward engagement, not strict promotion – you’ll find contacts and followers are open to hearing you out.

On a closing note, I'd like to challenge you to get to know your audience for each social network. Feel free to use my free Persona Tool, and run it multiple times for each platform. You may be surprised what you discover.

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