Home » What’s Changing at Twitter? (An #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop Post)

What's Changing at Twitter (Hint: no more spam)

What’s Changing at Twitter? (An #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop Post)

Today’s post is part of the monthly Author Toolbox Blog Hop. The Hop is organised by Raimey Gallant, and has over 40 participating blogs. To find more posts, click here to check out the main page, click here to search #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop on Twitter, or click here to find us on Pinterest.

What’s Changing at Twitter?

I had planned to continue my series on email lists and giveaways this week. But I discovered Twitter have announced changes to their rules and policies around automation, and the changes come into effect on Friday (23 March 2018). These changes affect me directly, and indirectly affect all my fellow #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop participants. That’s why I’m covering it today.

These changes affect:

  • Anyone who manages multiple Twitter accounts.
  • Anyone who posts the same Tweet more than once (i.e. recycles Tweets).

If you don’t fit either of these categories, congratulations! You’re good to go. Otherwise, read on …

The Background

As we all know, social media has become a lot less social. In early 2018, Facebook announced they are changing their algorithm to reduce the number of posts from businesses, brands, and media so we’re better able to use Facebook for the original purpose: to stay connected with the people who matter to us. The subtext to this announcement is that Facebook are going to push businesses, brands, and media to pay to advertise or to boost posts, because that’s how Facebook makes money.

Now Twitter is taking a similar approach.

There are three ways to post a Tweet:

  1. Direct: A direct Tweet posts immediately from Twitter.
  2. Scheduled: A scheduled Tweet posts at a set date and time in the future, and may be scheduled in Twitter, or in an external app.
  3. Automated: An automated Tweet is when someone uses an external app such as Audiense ,Buffer, CrowdFire, Dlvr.it, Hootsuite, MeetEdgar, SocialJukebox, or TweetDeck to tweet on their behalf. Automated tweets are often duplicate Tweets.

Twitter have noticed (haven’t we all!) that a lot of Tweets are automated sales tweets, fake news, or spam. I often come across accounts where the Tweets all appear to be automated sales Tweets, sometimes coming from multiple accounts. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Authors are not innocent in this. I’ve read blog posts teaching me how to upload hundreds of Tweets to a programme like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, so the Twitter account can automatically Tweet sales messages. I’ve seen authors Tweeting these sales messages as often as every ten minutes. One author I know of has over 370,000 Tweets, but less than 5,000 followers … and just 16 Likes. If that’s not spam, what is?

What’s Happened?

I’m sure we all agree that Twitter would be a lot more social if there were fewer automated Tweets … especially automated sales tweets. So Twitter have updated their rules. Twitter now explicitly prohibits certain actions, and these changes come into affect this week, on 23 March 2018.

Twitter says:

  • Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously post identical or substantially similar content to multiple accounts.
  • Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously perform actions such as Likes, Retweets, or follows from multiple accounts.
  • The use of any form of automation (including scheduling) to post identical or substantially similar content, or to perform actions such as Likes or Retweets, across many accounts that have authorized your app (whether or not you created or directly control those accounts) is not permitted.

Twitter will police these changes, and suspend or terminate accounts which break the rules.

The first two points only apply to people who operate more than one Twitter account, so the easy solution is to stick to one account!

People who do operate more than one account now have to be sure they are not duplicating content across the accounts.

This is easy when the accounts have a different focus (e.g. an author who also sells homemade cards on Etsy may have two accounts, but they are unlikely to be posting the same content). It’s a little harder when the two accounts have a different but overlapping focus (e.g. an author account, and an account for a group blog).

I have access to three Twitter accounts: my personal account, and two accounts related to group blogs where I’m part of the administration team. I don’t simultaneously post identical or substantially similar content across all three accounts, but I’ll make sure my team members know not to do this as well. We will also be careful about retweeting between accounts, as that could attract Twitters attention in a negative way.

Posting Multiple Updates

The third point is the one that has many authors worried: posting identical content.

The use of any form of automation (including scheduling) to post identical or substantially similar content, or to perform actions such as Likes or Retweets, across many accounts that have authorized your app (whether or not you created or directly control those accounts) is not permitted.

This is a change of wording, but not a change of official policy. When I wrote my previous blog post on the Twitter rules, this was one of the rules:

[Do not] post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account

Twitter says they do not permit multiple duplicate updates (i.e. recycled content) on one account. But they have historically permitted recycled content as long as the posts were at least twelve hours apart (according to dlvr.it). Dlvr.it say:

Twitter is now poised to enforce this policy much more aggressively by restricting all duplicate content posting, even if it the posts are made even days or weeks apart.

Most Twitter apps and Twitter experts are saying this means the end of recycled content. For example, MeetEdgar says:

Moving forward, it means you should expect scheduling tools that have allowed for automated content recycling to no longer offer that service for Twitter accounts.

MeetEdgar is planning an upgrade that will enable users to upload multiple variations on the same Tweet at the same time. Tweets will be marked as sent, and won’t be resent. They are also considering a spinnable text option.

Twitter have also updated their rules to specifically prohibit users from creating additional accounts to get around the “no duplicate Tweets”rule. The updated rule is:

[Do not] post duplicative or substantially similar content, replies, or mentions over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account, or create duplicate or substantially similar accounts

Under this updated rule, “duplicate content” has become “duplicative or substantially similar content, replies, or mentions”. Users are also now expressly forbidden from “creating duplicate or substantially similar accounts.”

So recycling Tweets is against the Twitter rules, and has been for some time. The difference is Twitter will now be policing this more strongly. This will directly affect me, and may indirectly affect all my fellow #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop participants. Why?

Because I currently recycle Tweets.

I recycle Tweets using two different apps:

Buffer

I use Buffer’s Power Scheduler feature to Tweet all my new blog posts seven times over the next year. I currently alternate between two tweets for these, so each individual Tweet gets sent three or four times.

Buffer does allow me to create a unique Tweet for each share, so I will utilise that feature going forward—the only problem will be getting creative enough so each Tweet is not “substantially similar”. This is the approach recommended by Digital Decluttered. Problem solved.

SocialJukebox

I use SocialJukebox to share my blog posts, #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop posts, and posts from the two group blogs I administer (Australasian Christian Writers and International Christian Fiction Writers).

This is more of a problem, as SocialJukebox (like MeetEdgar) is a once-and-done solution for recycling Tweets, which means repeat Tweets are duplicate Tweets. However, I can control how often the posts repeat, and I have now set this to 90 days. At most, any individual post will be seen no more than three or four times a year.

I hope this will be enough to escape the attention of the Twitter suspension team. But my Twitter account was briefly suspended last year, so I need to be careful. If I get suspended, I’ll pause all my SocialJukebox streams and hope that solves the problem.

I’m not sure what this will mean for SocialJukebox. It’s a paid service, and my renewal is coming up soon. The only reason I use SocialJukebox is to recycle Tweets. SocialJukebox have not made an official announcement about changes to their service relating to this update.

Do you administer more than one account? Or post identical updates to one account? How will this change affect you?

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42 comments

  1. Louise says:

    Great summary.
    I was thinking of starting another account for my weekly hashtag game, but I think I’ll continue to tweet from my main account given the changes!
    I intended to try SocialJukebox months ago, to re-share old content, but I’ll scratch that idea off my list now.

    • Iola says:

      I think it’s safest just to have one account given the changes.

      I’ll be watching what SocialJukebox do. I love the concept (and the way it reshares all our #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop posts), but if Twitter decides SJ is breaking the rules? No more SJ.

  2. Interesting post, Iola. I use Twitter and have built followers over time, but I haven’t ventured into programs enabling scheduled/multiple retweets. I imagine Twitter is cracking down in order to sell THEIR promotional offerings (which I also have not used). It’s a dog eat dog world out there~!

  3. Anna says:

    Funny, I knew about scheduling tweets only because of twitter pitch parties and since (in some cases) I could only post three, I varied them. I’ve never noticed or been bombarded by all these repetitive, spamy, tweets. Call me oblivious.

    Thanks for the heads-up though. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    • Iola says:

      The repetitive tweets don’t stand out as much as they used to, because Twitter now uses an algorithm which shows popular Tweets first. There was a time when I could look at my feed and see the same Tweet coming from several different accounts, but that’s gone now (which is good).

  4. J.J. Burry says:

    I don’t use any of these services, but I love to see your “recycled” tweets. It gives me a chance to read some of the ones I missed before.

    Great summary and definitely worth sharing.

    • Iola says:

      Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s a mantra I was taught young 🙂

      I try and add most #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop posts to SocialJukebox, although I have missed a few, and a couple of participants aren’t on Twitter so I can’t tag them. I appreciate the Likes and Shares on my recycled tweets, so thanks for sharing!

  5. Wow! Lots to learn here, Iola. I only have one twitter account, so I guess I’m okay, right?

    Well I shared your post here anyway and hope that’s okay as well. We’d all be lost without you, Iola. I know that. All best to you, my dear!

    • Iola says:

      Sharing is always okay! Thank you 🙂

      Yes, I think you’re fine if you only have one Twitter account … as long as you’re not using it to reshare the same Tweets all the time (and I know you’re not!).

  6. Chrys Fey says:

    I heard about this and was annoyed for one reason…Thunderclap. I’ve used Thunderclap, just as many authors have, to help announce a new release or a sale, but now Thunderclap is changing their rules because of Twitter’s new policy change, so now authors can’t use Thunderclap as we once had. Now, there can’t be links in your Thunderclap campaigns to things you’re selling. Sucks because I was going to do a fun TC campaign for my mom in September for her picture book that will be released then.

    • Iola says:

      I had wondered about the impact on apps like Thunderclap and HeadTalker. I’ve never been convinced of the ROI on such campaigns, but I always support them when I see them because I like the idea, and because it’s no effort. It’s a shame this affects Thunderclap as well.

    • Iola says:

      You’re welcome. It’s annoying because every time I think I’ve got my social media sorted, something changes and I have to rethink things.

  7. Charity Rau says:

    I only have one account, and don’t use any automated services, so I don’t think this will really affect me. It is good info to be aware of. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I definitely needed to know this. I’m wondering how many accounts we’re going to see frozen in the coming weeks. My guess is A LOT. Thanks for this! I’ll add it to Facebook soon.

    • Iola says:

      I’d guess a lot as well. Many of them will be spammy bot accounts (or all those US Army “surgons” who don’t know the difference between Twitter and Tinder), but some will be genuine users who don’t mean to break the rules.

  9. Lyndsey says:

    Thanks for sharing this Iola, I came across this new twitter rule today at work as buffer is already preventing you from tweeting the same thing out on two accounts at once. I hadn’t been aware of the new rule coming in so it was a bit of a surprise! Your explanation is really helpful though and I can see why it’s been done and how to avoid getting into trouble with twitter 🙂

    • Iola says:

      It’s good to see the apps are enforcing the new rules already. I’ve heard others are doing the same, by not allowing updates to multiple Twitter accounts, or deleting duplicate posts.

  10. Vanessa says:

    Thank you for sharing this about Twitter. I’m hoping it’s not “too little, too late” in the game of fake news.

    And thank you for being the Twitter queen and sharing my blog posts!

  11. Thanks Iola. I don’t have multiple accounts and haven’t got to automating tweets yet, but I’m wondering if the point 3

    The use of any form of automation (including scheduling) to post identical or substantially similar content, or to perform actions such as Likes or Retweets, across many accounts that have authorized your app (whether or not you created or directly control those accounts) is not permitted.

    Refers only to automated sharing of ‘identical or substantially similar content’ (which is how it reads to me) or also manual re-sharing and/or retweeting (your own) content.

    I have no wish to spam twitter feeds (or any other social media) & make an effort keep my promo tweets to 10% of content or less. One the one hand, as an author, I probably want to tweet about a book more often than – say – announcement of release, cover review, preorder, launch and occasional sale (though different wording each time?). How to keep a backlist active if no one sees it. On the other hand, twitter is much more about raising awareness than sales for me & doesn’t add a lot of value otherwise (sure some cool memes, an occasional good post but I can get that elsewhere)— and perhaps, if it does become too time consuming to craft regular original promo book tweets along with ensuring I’m providing interesting content – I’m not sure I lose much with turning my attention elsewhere (places with more traction). (Like truly interactive social media, groups, writing my books, newsletters etc). By the time you add value to all the social media outlets on the off chance someone might not only glance at one’s book or pick up a freebie, but perhaps (crazy thought) send a couple of bucks – I could be writing another book or making real connections elsewhere.

    • Iola says:

      Good point, Jeanette. It’s possible Twitter don’t have an issue with manually sharing recycled content (although that will change if the clickfarms start manually retweeting).

      And you’re right: it comes down to the WIBBOW rule: Would I Be Better Off Writing? The answer is probably yes.

    • Iola says:

      If you’re not using a scheduling service you’re probably okay. Having said that, I love Buffer and SocialJukebox. It makes it much easier for me to share without flooding my Twitter feed.

  12. Joan Curtis says:

    Geez, I hated Twitter before and have pretty much stopped using it because it’s not too helpful Now, this makes it even more confusing. I use Hootsuite to schedule posts across platforms. But, I only have one Twitter account. For me, I don’t see Twitter doing much for me. It’s rare that people actually engage on Twitter. Are other writers feeling the same way?

    • E.M.A. Timar says:

      Joan, there is a very active writer community on Twitter. Twitter chats and games are a great way to meet other writers, not to mention events like #RevPit, #PitchWars, #DivPit, and others that help you connect with agents. You have to put in the effort to connect with the community, but the benefits are there if you spend the time.

    • Iola says:

      Twitter is a different kind of engagement to blogs or Facebook, but I have come across some great people on Twitter. For example, it was a Twitter post that got me involved in the #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop.

      I agree with Erika’s comment below. It’s like every social network: the more effort I make to connect, the more fun it is.

  13. E.M.A. Timar says:

    Thanks for the breakdown of the news. I do administer multiple Twitter accounts, but they typically do not have similar content. I mean I have retweeted a NaNoWriMo announcement or two, but usually, the content is substantively different. I will definitely be careful of repeating content though.

    • Iola says:

      I think retweets are okay, as long as you don’t continually retweet the same thing, and you don’t retweet an account you “own”. But it’s hard to know exactly how Twitter will police the new rules. If they suspend everyone who’s ever recycled a Tweet, will any regular users be left?

  14. Tobias says:

    Thank you for this informative article and sharing your experience, lola!
    We have 3 different products, each with its own blog and individual Twitter profile.
    We post unique content across all three accounts since all products have a different target group. But we post our evergreen content recurringly on each account and share new blog posts once a day over the cause of a week as initial promotion.

    Even before the new Twitter rules, we took care to use different texts, images or infographics when sharing the same link/blog post. As we have seen significantly higher interaction rates with this method. But with the new TOS, we now pay even more attention to the differences and include more pictures, share pics, and infographics in our blog posts. This way, we are able to choose from a larger variety of featured images for sharing on Twitter.

    However, since we also offer a WordPress solution with which you can share directly from WordPress on your social media channels, the much greater challenge was how we can incorporate the changes of the TOS into our tool without restricting its functionality or the overall user experience.

    As we have always attached great importance to individualization, our tool has already had numerous customization options for Twitter and all other social media networks. We have further expanded these functions and focused even more on sharing and planning several unique and customized social media posts for one and the same account.

    Because just as you write in the article, it is important to share/recycle your blog posts several times on Twitter. Especially if you consider that the average tweet only has a lifetime of 18 minutes and is only seen by a fraction of your followers. Therefore, sharing the same content multiple times is still a must on Twitter. And just like you put it, there’s no way around creating a unique Tweet for each share.

    Thanks!

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