If you stopped publishing your social content, would anybody notice?

social-content

By Brooke Ballard, {grow} Contributing Columnist

If you’re like me you don’t ever feel comfortable with your social media content publishing schedule. In fact, I have a secret that’s been gnawing at me late at night when I should be sleeping. More on that later …

And I think this topic is ripe for conversation. Debate even.

With theories like Content Shock nipping at our heels, and IBM saying the “internet of things” leading to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours, I think I can speak on the behalf of many other content marketers when I say: I’m freaking out!

What does this mean for the “little guy” and our social content? Do we post more? Less? The same? Do we curate content or only share our own, original pieces?

I’m genuinely very curious to hear what you {grow} readers have to say.

Here are some of my thoughts and research; fodder for the conversation, if you will.

Social Content Homeostasis

On average, my small company shares around 110 posts per week. And that’s just considering the “biggies” — Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

We post weekly to other sites like Pinterest and Google Plus … and then of course there’s my personal profile, which is active on each of those sites as well.

According to a study by Locowise, which examined more than 600 pages on Facebook with a total of more than 250 million likes, here’s where the majority of brands fall with publishing frequency:

  • 31 percent of pages studied posted two to four times per week
  • 25 percent posted once per day
  • 18 percent posted once per week
  • 4 percent posted more than 10 times daily
  • 3 percent posted five to nine times per day

So at least for Facebook, we’d fall in the top 56%, posting anywhere from once per day to two to four times per week.

Several advice sites encourage users to post more to Facebook to combat certain algorithm changes.

I am usually an outlier in that I say — post less. And in accordance, the study from Locowise concluded that posting less to Facebook was better for brands relying on organic reach.

Mega sites Buffer and SumAll seem to be more in alignment with less is more as well:

social content

 

If I were just going off of the above stats, we are:

  • Under pinning on Pinterest
  • Over tweeting on Twitter
  • Under posting on G+
  • Good with Facebook
  • Under posting on Instagram
  • Good with LinkedIn
  • Behind on blogging

Which leads me to my next question: Does my small business really need to be everywhere? Or should we concentrate on the places we can do it right?

The Great Content Curation Debate 

I realize the term “right” is relative. What works for you may not work for the next guy, and so on.

But as young marketers, and new marketers, and even in-the-know marketers seek to combat the shrill hum of more and more content, how do we use social content to combat it?

Or, more importantly, is social content adding to the noise?

If you were to look at social sharing, for instance, the stats show that most people retweet articles that they haven’t even read!

We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading (our posts).

A shocking statement by Chartbeat, a real-time traffic analytics company.

Both Chartbeat and Hootsuite found that some readers read every word, many only skim, and even more than that will share without one glance.

Savvy readers understand that sharing and content curation are two different things, as curation is taking sharing to another level.

But what is content curation achieving? Are you building authority? A community? Are you engaging with thought leaders and networking?

Some pundits will tell you that “real brands don’t curate” and by sharing others’ smart content you are merely promoting them and not making yourself look any smarter.

Either way I suppose there is an argument that sharing others’ content is just adding to the piles of unread and uncared about noise.

Where Do You Stand?

Time and resources are finite. As businesses, we need to look at where our time goes and evaluate the measure of how well that time is spent.

Is it worth our time to push 110 posts out to social channels every week? Is that a shotgun approach when we need sharks with laserbeams on their frick’n heads (an Austin Powers reference)?

Would it mean certain death (to a brand) if those posts dropped drastically or disappeared altogether?

Does anyone really care?

Because — I’ll be super honest here — even though our company does a stellar job with organic reach, if we stopped posting on social media tomorrow I’m not sure it would devastate us. I’m not even sure anyone but our advocates would notice. Hopefully I’m wrong, but there it is. That’s the big hairy secret that’s keeping me from catching Zs at night.

I’m asking you to weigh in here, too. Help me understand how the changing social landscape and things like content shock can coincide and live together in peace and harmony.

Please and thank you. 🙂

See you in the social sphere!

Brooke Ballard for {grow}Brooke Ballard is an in-the-trenches digital marketer & owner at B Squared Media, blossoming blogger, and co-host of @ReadySetPodcast. Her mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on Twitter.

 

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  • Aidan

    The Internet (and all channels therein) are very much being killed by vanity metrics, which are in themselves direct descendants of the old ‘advertising’ metric of measuring page impressions which have driven the increase in noise across the spectrum. 90% of blogs about marketing are purely mechanisms to drive page impressions and proliferate the false truths around tweeting/posting etc x10 per day, or whatever random number you happen to choose. You are kept awake at night by the wrong question. The question is, how do we measure effectiveness when the page impression is no longer a means to measure by?

  • Brooke Ballard

    Thank you for your insights, Adian. I’m not really worried about metrics at all unless we mean measuring the impact of social media to our brand. Not to say metrics don’t matter, they do. But if I could still be the brand and business I/we are without spending so much time on curating and creating content, I’d happily spend that time on sales.
    I *think* our brand has become what it is based on our social presence and blog presence (and networking and hustle). It’s just an insecurity I wanted to share to see if other people have the same feeling.

  • Aidan

    I think it’s important debate you’ve started. Curating content does work I may add – but only really in support of these vanity metrics (more followers etc). It’s therefore a distraction 99% of the time – and that time in my view is better spent on sales/customer interaction.

    On occasion it is still completely valid if done as part of a wider conversation the brand is directly involved with, but the sort of activity that is so prevalent today, with businesses simply queueing up an endless stream of articles from Buffer is adding very little value for anyone, and in fact merely degrades the true power of these networks.

    (Of course, I’m sure Twitter etc are not too bothered at the minute, as this type of echo-chamber activity fluffs up their active user data and thus keeps the market happy (for now).)

    It will in the long run be the undoing of the platforms, as real-human engagement is the lifeblood, and without it their advertising solutions will not be effective for advertisers, who will eventually give up and go somewhere else. LinkedIn is the exception I think – it’s got the balance right, and doesn’t seem to be as open to misuse. Interesting debate, and thanks for taking the time to post.

  • Brooke Ballard

    Thanks, Aidan. Trust me, it’s not easy talking about these things (especially as a business that offers social media services!), but I feel like we need to have the conversation. There is so much noise out there. How do we combat it? Or will the “real deal” brands stand out on their own?

    I like curation. I’ve debated with several people over curation. To each his own, but true curation (not haphazard sharing) can really help you stand out and connect with people. It has for me/my business.

  • Jennifer Kane

    I just stopped entirely posting on any of my company social channels. No one noticed. No one cared. Didn’t impact my business in any way. I feel about 200% happier on a daily basis.

  • Jeff Reed

    I am a consumer of information. As a financial advisor, people think I’m glued to a stock ticker all day. I’m not. Mostly I read. I have regular blogs that I review and read for enjoyment, enlightenment and sometimes for specific industry knowledge. If I find a post to be useful and interesting I share it using Buffer. I do so because if I find value (or humor etc.) others that follow me may as well.

    I don’t follow or share because of any ulterior motive. I don’t have a blog. I can’t “create” in my industry without having it approved as advertising in advance (big bummer). Maybe one day FINRA and the securities industry will see the light. Until then I will share some things I read. By the way, I ALWAYS read before sharing.

    I enjoy your guest posts on {grow} Brooke. They make me stop and think, which is rare in this fast paced world we inhabit.

  • Jennifer Porter

    I think the most important element of Social Media is relevancy. If you your posts have value in peoples lives, be it education, beauty, humor or news, presented correctly they look to them for intellectual stimulation, guidance ect. Whether or not people would notice may actually be irrelevant, it’s like ads, would you miss them? Probably not, but if they are presented right and you will engage them and recognize them when you shop, look for them as an educational opportunity or vacation. That’s my social media thought for the day,lol.

  • Brooke Ballard

    WOW, Jennifer. Insightful. And delightful! Something to consider … THANK YOU for being honest.

  • Brooke Ballard

    I am too, Jeff! I spend much of my time reading and learning. I share for the same reasons you do (although I suspect there are many who don’t follow suit). Thanks for your comment. AND, thank you so much for your encouragement. It means a lot. 🙂

  • Brooke Ballard

    And a superb thought it is, Jennifer! I completely agree that relevancy is important. That’s why I view curation as important. But … even when we’re constantly fine tuning our content, there are pieces that totally bomb. I guess that is part of the game? Can little guys ever make 100% of the shots they take with content? Is it worth our time to get there? Just curious about it all …

  • Jennifer Porter

    I don’t think anyone can hit the target 100 Percent of the time, but due to it’s reach and cost, I believe Social Media has a lot of real value.

  • Karen Wilson

    I like posts that provide guidelines like this for the starting place you can get from them, but I think every organization has to do regular testing with its audience to ensure they are hitting the correct frequency, which could drastically differ from these averages.

    It’s practically impossible for social content to not be perceived as noisy. As content marketers, we just need to remember that noise to some is music to someone else’s ears. It’s all relative.

  • samplonius

    An important conversation. I’ve been in B2B marketing for a long time and I’m finding it an uphill battle to get people to understand that the old school attitude transferred into a new medium doesn’t actually CHANGE anything.

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  • Brooke Ballard

    Thank you! I agree. Something has to change, but I’m not exactly sure what that is or what that means. Hopefully conversations like these will help.

  • Brooke Ballard

    I 1000% agree with you on testing, Karen. Audience development and testing are huge reasons we still receive plenty of organic reach — but that doesn’t mean it’s a cake walk, either! I love what you said: “noise to some is music to someone else’s ears” — YES!

  • samplonius

    I think it is things like the VRM movement that will change things. Do you follow Doc Searls or any of the VRM discussions?

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  • I’m glad this thought is keeping you up at night! It’s a scary proposition, so I decided to think about the platforms that I care about myself. I could think of a handful that I would be concerned about if I didn’t see anything from them for a few weeks. Grow of course, being one of them. 🙂

    The same happens to me on Twitter. If I don’t see tweets from certain accounts for about a week or so, I always manually go to their handle to see what’s up, in case I missed it in busy streams during the week.

    Anyway, at the end of the day, it’s all about whether or not your content is providing any actual value to the consumer or not. I think this should be the starting point of every social strategy. “If we stopped doing what we’re planning on doing, would anyone care?”

  • lisawilberding

    Great read and this so reflects my job! I think you are right by asking the question “does anyone or will anyone really care if we just go away?” Hopefully, yes. It obviously goes back to the concept of value. One way my colleague puts it, “are we saying something that no one else can say or do?” If yes, then you are pretty much golden. He and I were at a tradeshow last week with over 22k attendees. We walked around and looked at the different taglines and marketing rhetoric on the booths (some small like ours and some that cost over 250k)! There were literally only about two or three that portrayed well what they actually did and why, as a potential customer, they would be of value. That’s pretty sad. But I believe this messaging, whether it be on trade show booths, in a blog or white paper, or on your home page is often done wrong (my company is guilty). Anyway, let’s keep asking the question you proposed in a slightly different manner…”why should we continue to market ourselves via content and sharing?” And if the reason is because people actually do care and are ready to engage and ultimately buy, then we’ve done our job! Not easy.

  • A very valid article (that I read through to the end & plan to share). I create content, but also curate for small businesses. They see the value in keeping their name alive and as they cannot afford to create all the content that is required to do that, curation comes into play. Therefore I try to read any article I come across before sharing it. Sadly, I realize that many don’t.

    So, do I add to the “noise” by sharing that info? Yes, but I think if it is researched well enough there is value there, especially for the little guys who want to compete with big companies. In an age where small, local businesses struggle, but are receiving support from their communities, I think they have to have some kind of presence. With more and more people being aware of social media and its reach, again I think it is a must.

    No sleep lost here…

  • Brooke Ballard

    Thank you, Katherine! I appreciate your honesty and feedback. I find myself nodding along to what you are saying in agreement. Perhaps I just get nervous about adding too much noise, or riding that fine line between helpful curated content, original content, etc.

    I suppose if it were easy, we’d all be rockstars. 🙂 Just wanted to put some of my thoughts out there and see if others felt the same way.

  • Brooke Ballard

    Lisa, we are kindred spirits! One of the biggest things I get on my soap box about is differentiation and standing out. “We’re the best in the world”, “we love our customers”, “we want to help you make money” — you hear all of these statements over and over and over and it is kind of like Peter cried wolf. You just don’t believe in the words anymore.

    I love how you rephrased the question. You’re right, it’s not an easy question, but necessary to business today!

  • Brooke Ballard

    As in Vendor Relationship Management? I’m not familiar with Doc Searls, no. Would love to hear more …

  • Brooke Ballard

    Haha! Thank you (I think?), Avatar! I’m glad I’m losing sleep for a valid reason. Mark has done a fabulous job caring for and nurturing his community. While I don’t think ours holds a candle to his, I do believe our approach is similar in many ways.

    I always to try add value or put myself into the shoes of the reader. OR, like with this post, just be brutally honest and transparent.

    And you’re right, we all need to be asking this question more. Imagine if we all did … think of how content and noise would change in an instant. Too bad that’s just wishful thinking!

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  • Hello, @brooke_ballard:disqus!

    As always, you bring up some valid points. Thank you!

    With that said, I’m going to be honest. I don’t think the frequency of posts really matters. What matters is consistency. It’s more important to focus on your audience, and nothing but your audience.

    When I launched my latest blog, I published new content 5 times a week. And I also curated stuff all over my social media profiles. Then, I got so busy that I found myself unable to take a day off.

    Now, I only post twice a week, with an occasional third article (guest post). And you know what? It hasn’t affected traffic to my blog that much.

    Engagement on what I share on social networks hasn’t changed either.

    So, I think it’s more important to sit down and relax. Most of us overthink and overdo things. And when all is said and done, we forget the most important piece in the puzzle: our audiences.

  • Nice, this question arrives to my mind many times. Normally I forget to update my Social feeds for Digital Marketing. Thanks 🙂

  • Brooke Ballard

    That’s great advice, Cendrine! Thank you. I’m the Queen of overthinking, so you’re probably spot on with that. I do try and always curate and create what my audience will want, so many I just need to spend more time on that and less worry about “how much” — anything to save time and create less noise sounds good to me!

  • Kitty Kilian

    Yes, you are absolutely right here.. I too would only miss a few specific people and blogs.. the ones I have an emotional bond with and the ones that offer outstanding quality. Those, by the way, are also the only ones I will leave a comment at 😉

    So er… 3/4 of my social media timelines can vanish and I would not be sad. And may be even more than 3/4.

    So the only question is: do OUR readers think WE belong to the 1/4 or the 3/4?

  • Brooke Ballard

    Glad to hear (see) it, Uday!

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