Jeff’s 5 Rules of Social Media Content

January 16, 2017


Thou Shalt Not

These are the absolute basics. Social media and content tactics should NEVER:


1.  Be Boring and Repetitive

It’s really pretty simple, if it’s not interesting to you how can you expect it to be interesting to your audience? Would you want to read three consecutive posts about how awesome a product is? 


2.  Miss the Target Audience

ALWAYS know who you are talking to. Any communication that does not take this into account is selfish and vain. Don’t start talking until you have looked your audience in the eye and thought about what they need to hear and how they need to hear it. They are important, you are not. 


3.  Feel Like Spam (Jeff’s 3:1 Rule)

The average half-hour television show has about 23 minutes of content and seven minutes of ads. That 23.3% ads, or about a 3 to 1 ratio. The major television networks have nearly a century of testing and tinkering that helped them arrive at this ratio. It is about as much advertising as people will stand for. 


Although today our shorter attention spans, ubiquitous mobile devices, and the vagaries of individual markets may impact this number, it is an excellent starting point. Your ratio of interesting-coolness-value to product pitches should be no higher than 3 to 1. 


Anything else and your audience will feel like they are getting spammed and cheated for their time. If a television network shows too many ads, people will grab the remote control and change the channel. In the social media world the equivalents of changing the channel are unlike, unfollow, and unsubscribe


4.  Be Inauthentic 

In the play “As You Like It” William Shakespeare famously wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players ….”  In a way, authenticity is playing the part of yourself as good as you can. 


Too many people have one way of talking at work, another with their families, another with their friends, and so on. An authentic voice in manner and tone is modulated to the group that person is talking to, but it is unmistakably true to that person and recognizable. 


If your social media content is a put-up job of false interest within a contrived piece of abstract performance art no one will believe you and no one will care. 


5.  Be Bunched Up 

Posting five times all on Friday afternoon does NOT count. Social media has become such an important part of marketing these days that certain goals, metrics, and quotas are inevitable. But we have seen WAY too many efforts at hitting some blind numerical posting goal where seven Tweets and four Facebook posts all appear from the same company or person in a span of 30 minutes. 


It looks rushed, feels insincere, misses big chunks of audience, and makes social media feel like spam. 


Yes … sometimes creating social media content is a hard slog of work. But if you do it right the reflex to communicate interesting things can be nurtured into a natural flow. It should feel to your audience like a long-term conversation they are having with you over coffee each morning (remember this post?).


And yes, if you do this professionally you will likely use a social media management tool that allows you to schedule posting times and post in multiple places at once. But that will not be because you are rushed or hiding a quota-filled workflow — it will be because you woke up at 2:00 AM will an interesting idea and want the content to go out when more people will see it


Who Do You Like?

Social media and content that breaks these five rules is not social at all … it’s anti-social. You would not inflict anti-social communication on your friends … people you like, right? 


We believe that the first step to great content and social marketing is to like your audience. Not “Like” is the Facebook sense, but like them in the genuine “these are my people” sense. Ultimately, if you do not like your audience, how do you expect them to like you back?


When you like someone you:

  • Don’t waste their time

  • Don’t talk down to them

  • Share things that are genuinely interesting (Jeff’s 3:1 Rule)


Keep it Natural

Good social media and content marketing takes time, patience, and discipline. The only way it becomes a successful part of your life in a way that doesn’t violate the Five Rules is when you have three natures:

  • A natural affection for the topic

  • A natural affection for the audience

  • A natural inclination to share and communicate


If you do not have these natures, then consider that you are trying in desperation to perform what is supposed to be a “social function” of communication for the wrong product or the wrong audience … or that you are doing the wrong kinds of tasks for you.


One thing is certain — absent these natures, something is just the wrong fit for you


Thanks for reading. 


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