One of the most common questions I get asked is “How frequently should I post?” How many times a day should I post to Twitter? How many times a week should I post to LinkedIn? How much is too little? How much is too much?
If you look at the gap in time between this post and my last post, you’ll find it’s something I don’t worry too much about. Yes, there are optimal cadences for building a presence in social media that will help you look timely and relevant and involved, but there’s a significant downside as well. More and more people are lamenting that social media is generating too much noise–a lot of optimized shouting and not a lot of substance.
My steadfast advice to anyone engaged in social media: post when you have something of value to share. If you’re searching for something to share just to fill the space, it may be time to take a break. Rethink your frame of reference. Find some new sources and inspiration. Put the mouth in neutral for awhile and just listen.
Focusing on optimizing quantity in the absence of quality is not a recipe for success.
Every year I take time off to listen. Instead of constantly angling for a great headline or a new spin, I hang out on message boards and LinkedIn groups, I spend a lot of time talking to customers, and I focus on how SocialRep can create value. This year, I spent a lot of time with our team and a handful of customers, not just in one-off catch up calls, but in weekly hour-long calls for several months on end.
We heard a lot of customers musing about how confusing social media has become–all the hype about content marketing, social selling (what is it, exactly?), inbound strategies and cadences, and above all, the empty-calorie content companies are generating to be heard (hint: shout louder!). We heard customers struggling with how to manage social media programs, how to find and train the right people to rep their brands online, how to choose the right marketing tools and mix to get their message heard.
Then we went to work, still mostly in listening mode. We wanted to find a way, beyond just a list of best practices, to really define what makes an effective social marketing program. We wanted to build new tools to help our customers do more with social media, more authentically. We wanted to engage new partners and customers committed to creating real value and real dialog with their own customers. We wrote dozens of presentations and briefs, we exchanged ideas and prototypes with customers and partners, we hung out with analysts and developers just to talk shop. And I Tweeted none of it. I updated none of it to LinkedIn. I posted none of it to our blog.
And the world didn’t end. Business didn’t come screeching to a halt. The best feedback I got was overhearing someone at an event say: “They don’t post a lot, but what they post is worth reading.” I’ll take that any day over being consistent and forgettable.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be ramping up the dialog again in all the usual places. But with a lot of new material, a lot of fresh ideas, and hopefully some new voices adding to the discussion.
If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by the hunger of social media, or underwhelmed by the lack of depth, take time off to just listen. Let the anxiety of needing to post burn itself out, and then listen some more. Find channels of conversation that aren’t for public grandstanding, but for sharing ideas and hearing new perspectives. Use your phone to talk one-on-one with customers (wait, no likes and reshares?. The world won’t run away from you. Sure, you’ll lose some bot followers and stats, but the people who matter will find you, and they’ll want to hear what you have to say.