Beware the Social Turducken

You’re probably familiar with America’s greatest holiday stunt food, the turducken. The perfect fancy entrée for indecisive hosts, the turducken combines the best parts of a chicken (the meat) shoved into a deboned duck, which is then packed into a hollowed-out turkey that has its own wings and legs stapled onto it. It costs a small fortune, it’s extremely tricky to cook correctly and is generally better in theory than on your dinner plate. It’s what happens when chefs ask themselves what they could do, not what they should do, and if poultry had representation at the United Nations, it would be classified as a war crime.

Turkey in Oven

So what does a turducken have to do with social media? Well, first, there’s still plenty of time to use social media to warn friends and family against making one for Thanksgiving this year. But more importantly, it’s a metaphor for a content strategy that tries to maximize the reach of limited content, but just winds up a pile of dry, stitched-together, missed opportunities.

If you’ve got your Facebook page set up to automatically cross-post to Twitter, you are technically present in two channels. But what you’re really doing is squeezing boneless Facebook content into the hollowed-out shell of a Twitter feed. Images and copy that are formatted to take full advantage of Facebook real estate won’t look right on Twitter. An auto-posted tweet is truncated if the original Facebook post is longer than 140 characters, and it ends with a link to the FB post. Here’s a fun fact about many Twitter users: they f***ing HATE Facebook and resent any attempt to trick them into going there.

Plus, if you’re not creating unique content in every social channel that you want to be a part of, you’re probably not as engaged with your audience in each channel as you need to be. If your Twitter presence is an auto-generated afterthought, what happens when someone responds to you there with the expectation of hearing back from you within an hour? The biggest advantage that social has over other forms of marketing communication is the fact that it’s a conversation between brand and consumer. If you’re ignoring consumers who want to talk to you, you’re missing the entire point and possibly generating resentment among the very audience that you’re trying to reach.

If you want a turkey and a chicken, then take the time to cook both a turkey and a chicken according to the individual recipes that bring out the best flavor in each. Likewise, if you want to engage with an audience on Instagram and on Twitter, then make sure you’ve got plenty of visually interesting content for the former and are participating in the up-to-the-minute, real-time conversations taking place in the latter. You’re much more likely to hear complaints from someone who ordered a chicken dinner and got it stuffed up into a duck than you are from someone who was served a turkey but expected more species of poultry shoved into it.