You lost me when you linked to Facebook

facebook dislikeHere ye, here ye! Come gather round. A grave pestilence has besieged our land! A blight wrought upon us due to our own blindness, our own hubris, and our own undying love of social networks. But fear not: the battle has yet to be lost! Knowledge wielded is a powerful weapon. Thusly, I impart to you these words of wisdom designed to snub the coming storms of endless winter:

Don’t link to content on Facebook.

(Alright, enough with the psuedo-Game-of-Thrones-fantasy speak). But, seriously, don’t link to content on Facebook unless you’re simply sharing it on Facebook. Sharing Facebook content from other websites and social networks causes issues. Facebook is a walled fortress and depending on things like your privacy settings–not all content is visible to everyone. When you create a link outside of Facebook that links in, you risk alienating fans.

A scenario

Imagine I’m cruising your mid-evil rock blog on my smartphone and you’ve got a link that says, “This video will make your ears bleed.” Obviously I’m intrigued and have no aversion to ear bleeds, so I click the link. Arg! It’s a link to Facebook. Now Facebook wants me to log in. Usually I wouldn’t bother because I hate typing on my phone, but for argument’s sake, let’s say I do it anyway.

Annoyingly, I’m not automatically logged into the Facebook app on my phone. I’m using my phone’s web browser so I’m redirected to Facebook’s mobile site. Anyway, I log in. But, it turns out you actually linked to your Facebook timeline, not the video itself. Probably because figuring out the individual URL of a Facebook post is not intuitive. Anyway, since you posted the video, you’ve posted a number of other things. This has pushed the video way down your timeline. So I click “load more posts” 3 times and my browser slowly responds with more posts. But I still don’t see your video post. Why? Because when you posted that video you accidentally only made it visible to friends and family. Arg! Not only am I not going to see your video, I’m going to boycott your website until a hot day in Winterfell, because I want those five minutes of my life back.

The moral of the story? You already know it. Don’t link to Facebook unless you’re actually on Facebook. This goes for Twitter and other social networks too. And especially don’t link from one social network to another. Don’t post a link to Facebook content on Twitter or vice versa. Social networks are gated communities that require logins and a familiarity with the interface. When you want to share something with the world, post the content on your website.

A simple formula

Post content on your own website, then link it on social networks. Not only will you avoid the pitfalls of linking to hard-to-access content on Facebook (or any social network) you’ll get the added bonus of actual traffic to your website.

Now everyone can access your hilarious video, informative infographic, killer tune, Prince Joffrey comic,  or brilliant thesis on the War of the Five Kings.  You don’t have to worry about privacy settings, and it’s easy for your fans to share your content on any social network they like, rather than being relegated to just Facebook.

Not to mention, you’re going to retain more control and rights to your content by posting it on your own website first. Facebook’s copyright terms allow liberal use of anything you publish on Facebook.

So, repeat after me, my brethren:

I shall, hence fourth, post content on mine own website first. Secondly, I will distribute  links to this content across Facebook and other social networks, so that all may behold the brilliance that I was prophesied to share with the world.

Do you have any thoughts on social sharing etiquette? Have you ever smacked your forehead with frustration because you clicked a link and were met with a login screen instead of the juicy content you were looking for? Please share in the comments below.