Should I Share My Blog Posts on My Facebook Timeline?
Social media has connected the world, but what's the etiquette for this new environment?
Since joining Facebook, I occassionally share my blog posts on my personal timeline, yet I always feel a little dirty doing it.
In order to understand why I felt this way I embarked on a journey of discovery to better understand the social dynamics of Facebook.
When I share a new blog post on my personal Facebook timeline, it shows up in the feed like any other shared post.
I don't claim to be the world's most intriguing writer and I'm sure my friends and family are not all interested in what I write about, but I've been a little surprised at how very little response my blog posts get when I share them on my timeline.
The response is different than when I post something directly to my timeline (not a share). I often get several readers and likes for direct posts.
So, when I share a blog post on Facebook and I receive the equivalent of blank stares, I have the uncomfortable feeling that I've just made a terrible social faux pas and all the cool kids are staring at me like I'm the biggest dork they've ever seen.
This is probably true, but beside the point. Allow me to continue.
Looking around at other timelines I saw that it wasn't just me. I've noticed that other Facebookers experience the same phenomenon. Direct posts get much more interest and many more likes than shares even when the share is your own blog post.
Even some very popular people with thousands of followers may hear crickets when sharing a blog post.
Of Two Minds
Given all of that, I have competing thoughts when it comes to sharing blog posts on my personal timeline.
My first thought is who cares. Share what you want. Express yourself--whether in life or on Facebook. If someone doesn't like what you have to say, they can block you. People are in charge of their own personal boundaries, especially on Facebook where it's so easy to choose who and what you see.
My second thought acknowledges the importance of self expression, but also wants to be socially successful and effective in connecting with people and getting them interested in what I do. Clearly some people will never take an interest, that's fine, but many would if I knew how to connect with them.
Both thoughts are correct. If you fall in the first camp, then you can stop reading now. Have a ball. Share everything. Be transparent and the people who care will be drawn to your enthusiasm.
On the other hand, if you'd like to understand the Facebook dynamic a little better then read on.
Facebook is a Dinner Party
Being more successful on Facebook involves knowing how to transfer your social graces from the real world to the social networking world.
You need to think of Facebook like a real life party. You should imagine all of your Facebook friends standing around in a house talking, having drinks, laughing, whatever your friends do.
When I share a blog post, it's the equivalent of walking up to a small group of people who are engrossed in a conversation and blurting out, "Hey, everyone! Have you seen my blog post?! Look!" Follow that with handing out business cards and asking them to buy some insurance and you win the social reject trifecta.
No one likes to be interrupted or sold when they're having a good time and just socializing. Having said that, if you sidled up to that same group with a drink in your hand, greeted them by name and joined in the conversation, you'd probably be accepted without the blank stares. And if someone eventually asks, "Hey, Steve, what have you been up to lately?" you could respond coyly. "Oh, not much, there's just this project at work I've been having fun with." "Really, what's that?"
Then, of course, you tell him all about this blog article you've been working on and how much you've learned. Suddenly, you're not the awkward interloper, you're a friendly guy with something interesting to say.
That's a dinner party, but what about the Facebook party? Is it even possible to share a blog post without seeming like a braggart or opportunist?
Well, yes and no.
If you imagine that Facebook is like a party, then you know that no one wants you to come around handing out business cards. But also, even if it's not about business, no one really wants to feel like they're being sold. Suppose you're a painter and you walk around holding up your latest painting for everyone to see without saying anything. That still has the potential to be creepy.
Facebook is certainly different than a dinner party, but in the end it's still all about social graces.
In a business setting people often think less about social graces. Selling is more acceptable, but I'd argue that even then most salespeople would do better to sell less and be more genuinely interested in others.
But Facebook is not a business setting.
If you want to show off your latest painting (or blog post) you need a more subtle and personal approach.
If you're throwing a party, you might hang your painting on the wall, but you wouldn't have twenty paintings on the wall with giant price tags.
You want people to feel that you like them (hopefully you do) and that you're not talking to them just because you want something.
So What Should I Do?
You should setup a separate Facebook page for your blog where you share all of your posts. The folks at Facebook understand the social dynamic of the personal timeline and wanted to create a place where people could be more businessy.
Not all blogs are businessy, but they have a more formal feel like a free gallery showing or musical performance in real life. It's not quite the same as a back yard barbecue.
Once you've created your Facebook page, head over to your personal timeline and invite your friends to like your page.
Don't use the built-in Facebook invite feature. This is impersonal and, frankly, a bit annoying. It's not bad, but it's the equivalent of handing out business cards at a party without bothering to say "Hi."
If your post is business related, never share on your timeline without a personal comment. Even if it's not business related, this piece of advice is probably the most powerful way to connect with others. Always write at least a sentence. It adds the personal touch and makes you much more interesting.
Take the time to make direct posts (not shares) to your personal timeline with no links and no invitations. People pay much more attention to direct posts and when you do invite friends to follow your page, they're more likely to do so because they feel more aware and connected.
Use your personal timeline as the place where you share personal tidbits about your business or project. Give people an inside look at your progress. Invite those who are interested to follow you more closely on your other page or your blog.
If you remember nothing else from this article, I hope you remember that Facebook is a party where people are looking to socialize and have fun. You should, too!
If ever in doubt about what to do, always add a personal touch. It's powerful.