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Howard Yermish    

One of the most frequent questions that I get from people wanting to do more with social networks is as follows:

One of the most frequent questions that I get from people wanting to do more with social networks is as follows: “What should I be posting to my Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook? And how often should I post?”

For the first question, the answer is simple. You should post things that are relevant to your purpose for your efforts. Of course, this is different for everyone and it’s difficult to determine the things that will fulfill that purpose. But it is easy to determine the things that have nothing to do with your purpose.

For the second question, the answer again is simple. You should balance the frequency of your posts somewhere between zero and infinity. Again, not an answer that is particularly useful because it is different for everyone.

Perhaps Thumper can help. Remember what he was taught in the movie “Bambi”? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Well I’m going to modify that statement for the social networks: “If you can’t post something interesting, useful and nice, don’t post anything at all.”

So my answer is that you should be interesting to your intended audience. Otherwise, your efforts will teach people to ignore you. Let me explain.

When you see a post from a friend or company, your brain takes a split second to assess what is there. Is it useful? Is it important? Is it for me? Should I click? Our brains want to predict the answers to these questions. If I post something that you don’t find useful today, the thing that I post tomorrow starts at a disadvantage. You didn’t like what I posted today, so you are more inclined to skip what I have tomorrow. And our brains accumulate this data over time, so we learn to predict the value of posted content.

Once we learn that a particular person or company consistently posts content that we don’t find interesting, we simply ignore everything that they post. We can’t be all things to all people, so that’s why you post things that are relevant to your purpose.

There are some “gurus” that recommend that you fill your timeline with all types of content. Three examples of this are inspirational quotes, blind re-posting of other content, and broken record content.

Inspirational Quotes: Now don’t misunderstand me on this. I enjoy great quotations and sometimes a person or business finds one that works perfectly for their audience. But I’ve seen many people and businesses post several quotes per day on Facebook and Twitter, and these quotes have nothing to do with them or the core beliefs of the business. As nice as the quote may be, it isn’t relevant. Rotating through a third-party source of these quotes doesn’t engage a potential prospect or create customer loyalty or foster a networking opportunity. If you do this and the quotes aren’t from the book you wrote or the speeches that you gave, stop. And putting that quote as a caption on a photo doesn’t make it better. It teaches people that they can probably ignore your photos too.

Blindly Re-posting Everything from Popular Sites: There are a number of news sources and websites that create lots of quality content every day. The site will then post a link to their own stuff on their Twitter feed or Facebook page. That’s great, because that’s what their readers want them to do. BUT … When I read that content, and re-post links to everything from that content source, I’m overwhelming my audience with someone else’s stuff. There are many people that have their Twitter account setup to automatically post EVERYTHING from another website, which is bordering on spam. Instead, share an article or two that is relevant to your audience and include some extra detail that will help your audience. By curating the best stuff from another prolific source, you are adding some value to the activity. Don’t fill your Twitter and Facebook pages with this stuff, unless you want to teach us to ignore you.

Broken Record: Not every business believes that they are interesting. Creating new content for their particular products and services doesn’t come naturally. So they create a post like this: “Learn about our blah blah blah thing that will change/save/revolutionize… click here.” And then in addition to the corporate mumbo jumbo, they repeat the exact same post every day or every hour. Icky poo. Twitter has filtering that will label you as a spammer for these types of broken record posts, perhaps even preventing you from posting duplicate content. Instead, consider focusing on lifting up other people or businesses. Post links to other stuff with a testimonial. “We’re grateful that we have done business with XYZ Industries for the past rive years. Thanks for taking such good care of our customers.” Now they are forever indebted to you, or at least until they return the favor by giving you that digital referral.

Our attention is finite and scarce. When you waste our time, you teach us to ignore you, which is exactly the opposite effect you are trying to have with social networking.

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