I have a friend we'll call James. (Not his real name.) James is awesome.
In casual, friendly settings – like lunch or dinner – James is chill. James has conversations at normal volume, shows genuine interest in my life, and is pleasant to be around.
There's another side to James, though, that I have yet to witness firsthand, other than from his Instagram and Snapchat stories. It's James' party side.
I'm not criticizing the fact that James likes to party, but I can tell he certainly acts like a different person at a concert in a foreign country than he does eating a burger on his lunch break in Midtown Manhattan.
For starters, he dresses differently. He wears outfits to party that would look way over the top among friends on a weekday. He also talks differently. I don't mean the sound of his voice, but rather, the words he uses, and the volume at which he uses them.
I bet he has a certain way he acts for his corporate job, too. I know he dresses differently – he's in a suit and tie Monday to Friday.
How weird would it be, then, if James wore that suit and tie to parties? Or if he showed up to dinner in a nice restaurant screaming and dancing? He would be out of place, and no one would want to associate with him.
So it is with social media. You may be the same person, but the contexts of each platform – Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. – are all different.
Instagram, for example, is about the only place you can use 20 hashtags on a single post and not be extremely obnoxious. (You may seem a little thirsty, though.)
And Twitter is not the place to go on long rants, what with the 140-character limit.
One of my biggest pet peeves is logging on to Facebook and seeing someone's tweet – or worse, retweet – crossposted from Twitter. If I want to follow you on Twitter, I'll do so.
And your Instagram photo may be beautiful, but even with a short caption, it doesn't look good on Twitter. In fact, it doesn't look like anything at all, because Instagram doesn't allow your photos to embed in Twitter's cards. You're better off uploading the finished product to Twitter and composing a new caption.
Context, then, is the key. People have different expectations for different platforms, even if the content is coming from the same person.
This goes for brands just as much as it does personal accounts. Showing a lack of grasp for a particular platform is a quick way to tell potential customers you're in over your head.
If you want to create genuine conversations, and attract loyal followers, then be loyal to each particular platform, creating genuine posts for each.