What You Need to Know About Twitter’s Scheduling and Publishing Changes


Know About Twitter's Changes to Scheduling, Publishing - Eric Sachs SEO

Twitter recently announced major changes to their scheduling and publishing features in response to concerns about spam and safety on the platform. If you’re marketing products or maintaining a social media presence there, you should know that these changes may impact how, when, and what you post.

One of the most impactful changes for businesses is the fact that Twitter is now actively limiting coordinated posting across multiple accounts. This includes posts made through API services like TweetDeck and Hootsuite, the biggest multi-platform interfaces available to date.

It may also surprise you to learn that some types of automation have always been against the platform’s guidelines. Yoel Roth, who works for Twitter’s API policy team, wrote about the issue in a recent statement. “Twitter prohibits any attempt to use automation for the purposes of posting or disseminating spam, and such behavior may result in enforcement action.”

So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: What do you need to know going forward? And how can you make sure you’re staying within acceptable use guidelines? Let’s take a look at the most important “Do Nots.”

Don’t Cross-Post Identical Content

This is the biggest change out of all the new guidelines. You won’t be able to automate or cross-post the same post across multiple accounts any longer, especially if you’re using an API-based app to do it. In fact, this functionality has been completely removed from most apps, including TweetDeck and Hootsuite, so even if you try, you will find it’s just not available.

What’s the issue with identical content? After all, doesn’t it make sense in some cases (such as a major global corporation posting an update to all of its location-based Twitter accounts) at the same time with the same info?

The problem here is that cross-posting of identical content often negatively impacts Twitter’s algorithms. This is especially obvious when looking at trends, which monitor the volume of posts with specific content or hashtags. Some users were abusing this fact by creating apps backed by thousands of accounts that blasted spam messages, misleading users about what’s actually the hottest conversation of the day. Twitter alleges such users may even include people attempting to sway voters during the last U.S. election.

Don’t Automate Likes and Follows

Similarly, Twitter is also removing access to automated likes and follows. This will be even more impactful for businesses if they buy fake likes and follows or use API-driven programs that automatically create fake accounts for the purposes of growing their following.

To be fair, spam likes and follows have always been against Twitter’s Terms and Conditions. But it’s only been more recently that they’ve really started enforcing those standards uniformly across the board. Perhaps it was this report from the New York Times in January that motivated them to make the change.

Just how prevalent are fake likes on Twitter? For that, I’ll turn to the website Twitter Audit. Let’s take a look at Katy Perry specifically; she’s the most followed person on Twitter, yet the site reports that 68 percent of her 92 million followers are “probably” just bots or purchased likes.

Running the same search against @justinbieber shows a similar trend: 22,414,558 fake followers and 83,314,487. Of course, that means he has 78 percent real followers, which is at least better than Perry.

Don’t Use Spam to Force Trending Hashtags

This falls in line with the information in the last two sections, and is really an extension of the same, but it bears repeating and is important enough to have its own section. If you’re posting identical (or similar) posts across multiple platforms, and you happen to also be using identical hashtags, you may be falling out of line with the platform’s Terms of Service.

Here’s where things get sticky: this isn’t something all businesses do on purpose. Consider the aforementioned cross-posting for global conglomerates. They have a special worldwide contest going on, so they create a campaign and include the identical post with the same hashtag to get it going.

Seems sensible, right? Isn’t that the basis for viral marketing?

Well, yes…until they suddenly find themselves banned for spamming. Even if their intention was good, it’s still against the TOS because it can inadvertently manipulate trending hashtags.

If you are actively creating fake accounts simply for the purposes of fake hashtag boosting, even though you know it’s against the TOS, you’re probably facing eventual suspension at this point. This is especially true if you’re interfacing the platform from an API. Better monitoring tactics means Twitter will be better able to identify these behaviors faster, which also probably means more bans in general.

Don’t Allow Users to Post Spam on Your Behalf

Have multiple users interfacing with your Twitter account? That’s how most businesses handle social media campaigns these days.  Whether the “user” is a staff member or someone from a social media management agency, you need to be especially careful about how, when, and where they post in the coming months.

The problem here is that far too many businesses assume they can assign someone else to make the posts, or create a fake account, and then blame that account or person when something goes wrong. Not so anymore; now, Twitter will action both the account providing access and the user at the same time. Rather than just banning the fake account, they just might also ban you.

This will probably be most impactful for developers and large companies who may have thousands of users running posts on the platform at any given time. But even if you just have Sally from accounting posting for you, you should still take care to review your social media posting policy and get everyone up to speed.

Don’t Leave Mass Posting Functionality in Apps

This last one is mostly specific to developers: if you still have functionality built into your API-driven apps that allows mass identical cross-posting, you’re at risk of a ban. Twitter gave developers until March 25th, 2018 (before this post even goes lives) to remove functionality. Now, they’re actively searching for developers and apps breaking this rule – and if they find you, they will ban you entirely. For devs who base their entire business or app on social media functionality, a ban like that can be devastating. While you may have to take your app down temporarily to fix it, it’s much preferred to the alternative.

That said, there is one tiny exception: if your app specifically provides cross-posting or identical post dissemination for emergencies and disasters, you’re in the clear. Twitter has indicated that this falls within reasonable use because it allows government entities and other organizations to get safety information out to the general public faster.

SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners - helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

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