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Don't cross the streams! (aka: don't put Twitter in Facebook status)

Niala and I have found that not everyone agrees with our column this week. It's been interesting hearing different viewpoints from readers this morning, and please keep them coming! The topic came to us after we participated in an online chat via Twitter. A group that labels themselves as LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) started a chat about social network etiquette last week, so of course Niala and I couldn't resist jumping in.

Streams The topic of streaming Twitter in your Facebook status came up. Niala and I hate it, but a few others couldn't see why we felt so strongly against mixing the networks -- or as Miami social media strategist Alex de Carvalho said over Twitter this morning -- "crossing the streams" -- haha!

Anyway, below is our column that ran today:

Last week, we took part in an online chat about social media etiquette. The discussion started off with a question: Is it poor etiquette to automatically feed all of your tweets into your Facebook status? (For those who don't know, Tweets are the short messages sent out from your Twitter account.)

We took a firm stand on this: Don't do it, for a couple of reasons. Facebook status updates and Twitter feeds were designed to be used in different ways. We think it's not only disrespectful, but confusing to the Facebook audience to put your Twitter feed in your status.

For starters, Facebook's status is designed to be written in the third person. (Example: ''Bridget is watching The Office.'') Twitter users write full sentences in the first person. (``BridgetCarey: I'm watching The Office''). Put your Twitter feed in your Facebook status, and it looks strange, and oddly repetitive (``Bridget I'm watching The Office'').

That's awkward; but it gets worse.

In Twitter, messages are sent off in short bursts and are typically part of a conversation. Twitter users also often use shorthand and codes that just don't translate in Facebook. So if you're seeing lots of @, #, and seemingly one-sided status updates on Facebook, odds are, you're seeing someone feeding from Twitter.

Before joining Twitter, we were confused and somewhat annoyed when people did this. And now that we're on Twitter, even though we understand, we still think it's wrong.

During the Tweetchat that started all of this, we were surprised that others didn't understand why we felt so strongly. We realized others don't distinguish between social networks like Facebook or Twitter. As one person said, why does it matter if it's all social networking? Another said they were so busy on both networks that they couldn't keep track of what was being said where, and wanted to cover all their bases.

We both found it enlightening to realize that some don't think of these networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) as separate environments with different audiences, and therefore, different purposes.

Are we being too harsh by defining it as bad etiquette to link between networks? Should people be more considerate of the different social network audiences? In other words, does it not matter where you put your content, as long as you put it out there?

Let us know by posting a comment below or e-mailing poked@MiamiHerald.com.

[UPDATE: Check out the comment posted below from Mike. Apparently the Facebook application "Tweeter" is somewhat of a solution to some of these awkward issues when crossing the streams. I just started testing it out now. (02/03 5:15 p.m.)]


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In general I'd agree that stream crossing doesn't work, but Twitter and Facebook status could be a lot more compatible with minimal changes.

First, you're right about the differences in syntax, but if you're aware of that and phrase your tweets accordingly it's not really a problem. The more important thing is "@ replies" - messages on Twitter directed to a specific person (usually as part of a conversation). If someone could set up a Facebook app to exclude @ messages but post "freestanding" tweets to your Facebook status, it would go a long way toward making the two work together.

So then the question is: do you want them to?

Hi..good points. But I think your final one is the most important. Bridget and I both use Facebook for personal, social interaction and Twitter the lines blur a lot more, and it's more work-related. I felt like people pushing the feeds were just trying to market themselves all over the place rather than actually interact..but that's clearly my opinion.

Not a bad idea, Quixote. But for me to really fall in love with your idea, Facebook would have to block out anything that had @username (even if it was in the middle of a tweet) and any tweet with #hashtag. That means then you would only get true original tweets on Facebook, instead of people replying back and forth or retweeting each other.

At that point I'd be somewhat OK with it -- but it still won't be perfect. Because I come from a world where Facebook is and always has been Username + verb...[xxxx] (in third person) and Twitter users hardly ever write like that. It's a status update standard that 99.5 percent of my Facebook friends (who joined Facebook back in college) live by... cept for the few friends I have that link Twitter or just joined Facebook and aren't used to that third-person standard.

There is a Facebook application I use that posts my tweets to my Facebook. It CAN (and I have it set to) filter out @ replies. You can also set what to prepend the tweet with so mine status messages are "Tweeted: blah blah blah". it has exclusion filters it is called "Tweeter".

Hey Mike -- Wow thanks for posting about that application! I just put it on my Facebook account and I'll be trying it out now. I really like how you can put the "tweeted" verb in the front of it!

Although I wonder what Niala thinks of it, since her beef with "crossing the streams" is more about the philosophy of interacting on Facebook like a human, rather than pulling a feed from another network.

Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!.... good also...

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