Recently, I setup a microblog (http://jonhays.me) to supplement my interactions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. After several conversations with my friend Manton, I decided that I would setup a new WordPress site and use that as the content “repository” and use cross-posting tools to distribute out to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
There are several reasons for doing this, but my primary motivations are:
- I want to spend less time on the individual social media platforms.
- I want to own my content and have better control over it.
After a little bit of consternation over appropriate domain names and blog names, I set about assembling the site and my work flow.
One of my high level requirements is that I wanted to be able to post to my microblog from my phone. Another of my requirements is that I wanted to be able to post entries both with and without images. Of course the third requirement that I mentioned above is that it needs to cross-post to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Naively, I just assumed I could use the WordPress app and setup a few IFTTT triggers and be done with it. As you can guess, it’s not quite as simple as that.
Let’s tackle cross-posting of images first: what should be posted to Instagram for a blog entry with no image? With multiple images?
Realizing that simply posting from WordPress wasn’t going to work, my first instinct was to modify my workflow so that if I wanted to post an image, I would post from Instagram and use an IFTTT action to then cross-post the image to my microblog which would then cross-post to Facebook and Twitter.
Unfortunately, using this method is like playing a game of telephone with social media and the end result looks like this on Facebook:
Several of my friends replied after seeing these asking if my computer got “hacked.”
Images aren’t the only troublesome area either. Take for instance cross-posting of text posts larger than 140 characters to Twitter. It turns out that IFTTT is actually quite terrible about handling these as well:
Simply truncating the text without a link back to the original post is the worst kind of tease and also not acceptable. What a good cross-post tool should do is truncate at word boundaries and provide a link back to the original post. IFTTT is simply not up to the task for this.
In fact, as it turns out, IFTTT is actually quite terrible for cross-posting to just about every platform. I am investigating other alternatives at the moment but as of right now, I am still stuck with those terrible Facebook cross posts, and I have no way to post directly on the microblog and have the ones with images get cross-posted to Instagram.
Fortunately, there are smart people working on these problems! I’m using a beta tool to do the cross-posting to Twitter. The beta tool actually works quite well and I’ve been trying to convince the author to expand to include Facebook as well, but he’s reluctant to add more features at the moment because he’s trying to launch.
With so much out of control negativity and lack of author control on Twitter and Facebook, it feels like there is an opening for something like micro-blogs to augment existing platforms in a positive way. And while I don’t think Twitter or Facebook are going anywhere, I believe micro-blogs can help fill the gap for content creators that are conscientious about their craft.
I’m still exploring other avenues for cross-posting and I’ll try to post updates as I find them either here or on the microblog, but it feels like this is a viable, mostly untapped market.