Twitter has long been a go-to platform for spreading perfectly useful information via social media automation. But it’s also fallen prey to spammy bots and hashtags, fake profiles, bullying, and, alarmingly, malicious users trying to destabilize the democratic process in other countries.
It’s a move that’s getting a lot of support, even as it causes a bit of uncertainty in digital marketing circles.
The rules place limitations on what users can do via social media automation tools, so if you’ve ever scheduled a tweet, it’s important that you understand how the changes apply to you – ignoring them could result in Twitter suspending your account.
In this post, I’ll walk through the changes to Twitter’s terms of services, what they mean for social media automation, and how your brand can still thrive under the new rules.
If you’re engaged in social media automation and scheduling, you might not be immediately concerned. Your content is good content. So what do you have to worry about?
It depends on how social media automation informs your digital marketing strategy.
The truth is that this latest round of policy updates have forced some social media scheduling platforms to make changes – both subtle and significant – to their platforms. And that means you, as a digital marketer, need to be prepared to adapt.
If you do things right, you’ll likely never notice the latest Twitter terms of service update. But doing things incorrectly could get your Twitter account flagged, suspended, or banned – and that could be disastrous for you and your brand.
At first glance, Twitter’s new rules are pretty straightforward and non-intrusive, even if you have come to rely heavily on social media automation and scheduling. However, it’s important to take these rules seriously and act accordingly.
The litmus test for compliance with these rules can be pretty simple when you think about it: Twitter wants you to add value to their platform.
So before you post any content, retweet a joke, or like a comment, you should ensure that it adds value to others’ lives and the general social media environment.
There’s an old saying about how a bad apple spoils the bunch. That’s essentially what prompted Twitter to introduce these new rules. There are several types of behaviors that they are intended to combat:
Twitter has good reason to be concerned about many of the issues on the platform. Indeed, there are many who are concerned that Twitter’s new rules don’t go far enough and more changes might be coming. For now, however, it’s enough to acknowledge the core reasons behind Twitter’s moves so as to be better prepared for changes in the future as well.
Twitter’s new rules may force you to change some of your content and social media automation strategies. But they also offer a brand new opportunity for you the thrive. Following a few simple strategies can help your Twitter scheduling strategy and keep your social media automation use above board.
Twitter’s new rules now take a dim view of repeated tweets. Your old strategy, for example, may have included multiple reminders of an important date. So, you may have tweeted something like, “Don’t forget, free coffee on May 29th!”
And that’s great. It used to be easy to simply copy and paste that tweet, automate those copies, and rest assured that your followers would have multiple reminders of your coffee giveaway promotion.
For example, here’s how The New York Times used to share content across its various Twitter accounts:
And here’s how the publication shares content to Twitter now:
Notice how The New York Times is sharing the same link but has provided a different description.
Under the new rules, the reminder and similar content strategies remains sound, but you need to make a few changes:
Automating tweets moving forward: You can still plan, compose, and schedule tweets in advance. You simply need to make sure that each and every tweet is unique.
One method that social media gurus formerly used with aplomb was the creation of multiple Twitter accounts to boost visibility and engagement. Unfortunately, under the new policies, these multiple accounts could get you and your business into trouble. And, if you do have multiple accounts, posting similar content to those accounts runs the risk of creating more problems.
There are a couple of strategies that can ensure you’re still putting good content out into the Twittersphere:
Automating tweets moving forward: If your social media strategy previously relied on duplicated content, now is going to be a great time to reevaluate how you move forward. Making sure every single tweet is unique and that all of your accounts are valuable will only improve your performance and engagement over the long run.
The lifeblood of Twitter – and all social media platforms, for that matter – is engagement. On Twitter, that means replies, likes, retweets and more (in addition to the original Tweet, of course).
Automation was previously used to make that simple. You could simply instruct your social media automation app to like all Tweets with #coffeelovers at 1pm every Friday.
Unfortunately, Twitter it know frowning upon that kind of mass, automated engagement. Instead, Twitter is favoring engagement that looks and feels more organic and authentic. The right way to engage followers now is to:
Automating tweets moving forward: You’re likely going to have to pay more attention to liking, replying, and retweeting on an organic basis, as well as the best times to post. Even with the best social media automation, scheduling the liking or or replying to Tweets is incredibly problematic. In this case, it’s best to simply honor what Twitter is asking and engage organically. You might even find that this type organic interaction ends up boosting engagement with your accounts.
One of Twitter’s most powerful and popular features is its list of trending topics. I’m not going to get into how those topics are compiled and listed because most social media marketing strategies aren’t trying to influence the trending topics, they’re trying to leverage them.
A common digital marketing strategy is simply to get your message in front of your audience. Trending topics is a great way to do that. Here’s what the Trending Topics sidebar looks like:
But some digital social media strategies have gone overboard, and now Twitter is cutting down on what it sees as spammy content. You might have to adjust your social media strategy by:
Automating tweets moving forward: You’ll need to consider what trending topics you want to take advantage of ahead of time. Some trending topics are easy to predict, like #WednesdayWisdom, for example, or #MondayMotivation. You can still schedule some of those tweets ahead of time (just make sure you don’t over do it). The only drawback is that you might then have less opportunity to take advantage of spontaneous trending topics should that opportunity arise. You might also want to consider implementing Twitter Moments.
Not all of Twitter’s new rules are all that novel. In some cases, they represent small changes from previously establish terms of service. In these cases, however, Twitter made one thing very clear: they are serious about enforcement.
Consequences for violation of Twitter’s new rules may result in:
None of these consequences are exactly new. But Twitter seems more willingly to use them when necessary. There is an appeal process if you feel the platform has unfairly targeted your content, but it’s best to avoid that altogether where possible and ensure you’re following Twitter’s new rules to a tee.
Whether your social media strategy is entirely organic or you’ve developed a robust social media automation program, the core takeaway from these Twitter rule updates is the same: make sure you are creating quality content.
With Twitter’s new rules in place, you’ll need to make sure that each and every tweet that you send out actually delivers value to your followers. When using social media scheduling, there are a few ways to make sure that still happens:
It’s important to emphasize that social media automation isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s likely that automation and scheduling will be more important than ever. If you’re spending a little more time engaging manually (and more fruitfully), you’ll want to automate as much of the rest of the process as possible.
So don’t worry, Twitter isn’t going to penalize you for scheduling your tweets! But that doesn’t mean some things won’t change. You will need to think more strategically about your social media automation rather than simply setting it up once and forgetting about it.
Think of these changes as an opportunity. Organic engagement has been tough for brand’s up until now because it was easy to be lost in the noise of countless bots shouting competitors’ messages. But the new, improved Twitter is an even playing field. So your organic, authentic engagement is much more likely to be noticed – and rewarded.
Raelene Morey is the founder of Words By Birds, a digital writing agency that works with startups, SaaS, B2B, and WordPress businesses, turning your tech speak into words that convert. Formerly managing editor at WPMU DEV. Computer science grad turned newspaper journalist. When she's not taming browser tabs she likes brunching and bushwalking.
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