If pubs did duplicate content…

Posted on July 9, 2015

 

Imagine you went into a pub and bought a pint of beer. The pint is quaffable enough, so half an hour later you go and buy another one. This is the same beer as last time, but this time it tastes as if it’s been pulled half an hour ago. After another half an hour, your third beer tastes an hour old. Eventually, you get fed up of this and move to the pub over the road, only to find that it’s exactly the same as the one you just left and serves the same brews, each flatter and staler than the one before it.

This might sound a lot like your average night out in Birkenhead, but it’s actually a metaphor for what many businesses are doing with their social media accounts. By repeating themselves ad nauseam and failing to vary their content from one platform to the next, a product that might have been refreshing at first is gradually becoming diluted and insipid. If this continues, regulars will soon find a new watering hole, and any new visitors won’t appreciate the clickiness and lack of vibrancy, and will probably not visit again unless it’s three in the morning and it’s the only place open.

From the bar to business

With drinkers becoming increasingly discerning, the pubs and bars of today need to consider who they are targeting, and what they can do to offer them a fresh and different experience every time they visit. What pubs have in their favour though is that punters need to get up off their backsides and look for somewhere else to drink, if they grow weary of their current surroundings.

However, if people get tired of a website or social media account, they can have nothing to do with it ever again in a few clicks of a button, so there is perhaps an even greater need to keep followers hooked. Of course, upsetting Google is a bit like upsetting the compilers of The Good Beer Guide in website terms, and those sites that do can expect to get a minimal mention in the annual listings.

Serving Google a dodgy pint?

With Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates often coming out of the blue, it’s important that even the most active online business doesn’t rest on its laurels and constantly looks for ways to keep its content interesting.

At a recent Google Webmaster hangout, Trends Analyst John Mueller confirmed that there is little value in posting the same images and video content on multiple sites and social media platforms. This has always been known to be the case with text, where duplicate content from one page to the next can result in Google penalties, but videos, audio and images have always been more of a point of debate, with Facebook in particular often favouring posts that contain pictures or videos.

It also suggests that the practice of automatically or manually posting the same content on several social media sites, far from saving time, might actually be a waste of it. At Engage Web, we advise against it anyway, because you’re missing out on the subtle nuances of each particular platform, and ignoring the fact that Twitter and LinkedIn are better B2B platforms, while Facebook is more suited to B2C. Besides, what’s the incentive for people to follow you on a range of social media platforms if they’re only going to get the same thing on each one?

Mass catering

Another poor piece of social media etiquette, though one we see quite often, is trying to reach out to lots of followers by sending out blanket identical messages and only changing the user’s Twitter handle. This is basically spamming and isn’t enough to qualify as personalised tweeting – using the pub equivalent, it’s like serving everybody at a crowded bar the same drink without listening to what they want.

A better idea is to respond publicly to people who have contacted you or mentioned you in a tweet. Some companies have been known to share pictures of Twitter handles in unusual places, as this is something the user in question is bound to share.

None of this is really rocket science, and it just comes down to putting yourself in the position of your followers and customers. Would you like persistent sales pitches and monotonous content, or would you prefer something meaningful and personal?

So, don’t be the soulless, vacuous bar that churns out bland and overpriced lager and never changes the barrels. Instead, craft your ware in small but frequent batches, taking care to make sure each serving leaves your patrons feeling special. It might take a little longer, but it really hits the spot!

John Murray

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.

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