I am a bit of a sci-fi nerd.
But there is one thing in science fiction that I’ve never been able to fully wrap my head around: the concept of the time-space continuum — being in more than one place at one time and doing things in the past or future that irrevocably change the present.
Maybe this is one reason why I’ve never gotten on board with auto-syndicating my social content to different points in time.
I know a lot of people who are fans of this practice…smart people, people whom I admire.
For instance, one West coast smartie has set it up so his blog posts are tweeted hours before he gets up in the morning to take advantage of East Coast social traffic. Another popular blogger syndicates updates to her network multiple times throughout the day, which enables her to reach a wider audience, and ultimately, increase the readership of her blog.
Makes perfect sense.
But, as we’ve seen with some of the best sci-fi movies, messing with the future before you’re living in it can also have some negative consequences.
I call this the “auto syndication paradox” – when the practice which enables you to reach a wider audience and strengthen your reputation is also the one that could conceivably shrink that same audience and do it the most damage.
Last week I saw two examples of the paradox in action…
Wow…you kinda look gross right now.
Last Tuesday night, I dragged myself home, dead-tired from a teaching gig. Too beat to tackle any work, and yet still too keyed up to go to bed, I decided to lay on the couch and reply to a few tweets I had seen pop up during my class.
While perusing both Twitter and Facebook, I started to notice a wave of posts mentioning that the Chilean miners were about to be rescued (something which I had not been aware of). Anxious to catch up on the news, I turned on CNN and curled up with my iPad to watch history unfold.
I, along with about a billion other people, watched as they pulled the first miner to the surface, hugged his sobbing child and smiled at the cheering crowds. And during that time, I shared tweets with a community of people who were watching the same thing with me – who were also moved, overwhelmed and excited.
But, in the midst of this international conversation and celebration, some auto-tweets popped up in my feed. And in that moment in time, they looked as out of place as a hooker at Chuck-E-Cheese’s.
I knew these tweets were auto-generated, since,
- I had seen the same tweets appear earlier in the day; and
- I could tell by the traffic on the author’s account that this person was not currently online (or at least, was not actively engaging in their social channels at that point in time).
I gotta tell you…in that moment – in the context of, well, life, unfolding in its unpredictable and awe-inspiring way – those auto-tweets out of blue and disconnected from reality made the people who sent them look really, really bad.
This can be a danger when you promote things in the future before you know what the future holds. If an elected official were to be assassinated, an earthquake to hit or any sort of national tragedy to unfold, and you had the bad luck of having auto-programmed a tweet to pop up that says “Read my new blog post!” at that exact same moment in time, you could end up with a lot of egg on your face.
Oops…can I take it back?
The second situation happened at the end of last week.
I recorded a radio interview and, while it was being broadcast, something majorly bad went down.
(You know how sometimes during an audio recording you can hear a little background noise? Well, imagine if the background noise were ALL you could hear – with the radio voices just being a tinny drone in the background. Image if this background noise were, say, someone using the toilet, etc. who was nowhere near the studio where the recording took place.)
Are you with me here?
Now normally, a recording of a show that has technical issues would never see the light of day. But unfortunately, in this instance, the system was auto programmed so that, when the show was completed, its’ audio file was immediately uploaded and syndicated to multiple social channels.
Again, normally, this makes sense and is an extremely efficient way of delivering timely content to multiple spaces at one time. But in this case, it meant that a small public relations problem instantly became a large one.
This can be a danger when you auto-distribute content or social objects before you have a chance to vet them. If something faulty, erroneous or just plain “not up to par” manages to hitch a ride on your stuff, you get stuck playing a enormous game of “Where’s Waldo’s Content?” across the interwebs, trying to track down and delete the information wherever it appears, doing damage control along the way.
Guilty, as charged.
I will admit, I syndicate my content. My tweets syndicate to my Facebook page (yes, I have heard that this is wrong and “a kitten will die” every time it happens, but it’s worked wonderfully for me). Posts from this blog are syndicated to our team’s personal LinkedIn and Ning accounts and our KaneCo Facebook Fan Page.
But, what I don’t do is auto-syndicate content to other points in space or time.
I am always present at the point of publishing – I hit a post/publish button in real-time and watch in real-time as that action precipitates a host of cascading reactions.
I realize that there are drawbacks to this approach.
- My network doesn’t grow as fast as those who strategically connect with their community with similar messages, at multiple points in time.
- The management of my community and conversations is much more labor-intensive.
- I look smaller than other shops that are able to leave a wider brand footprint through their syndication strategies.
I guess I’ve just watched too much sci-fi and fear the loss of control…and the eventual sublimation of our species to robot overlords who will turn the planet into a post-apocalyptic wasteland (just kidding…kinda).
What about you? Are you and your content connected in space and time, or have you learned to solve the auto syndication paradox?