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The Design Train blogs are a series of articles researched and written by Andrew Knapp for submission to various publications and sites. The articles cover a wide range of topics and can be adapted and edited for use in various styles of media application.

  • Writer's pictureAndrew Knapp

To post, or not to post? How not to alienate your audience.

There are numerous theories when it comes to the correct number of times to post on to your social platforms over a fixed time period. The ‘more is better’ rule has gone out of the window (and, actually, was never a great idea), especially since the new tweaks to Facebook’s algorithm now prioritises personal posts over obvious organic advertising. This doesn’t mean that organic marketing is dead; it just means we have to be cleverer and work harder in getting our message seen.

For our posts to be seen as more than just advertising we need post content and information that creates engagement with the audience (likes, shares, comments, reviews etc). The more Facebook’s algorithm reads the amount of engagement a post had, the more it is recognised as valuable to the audience, and its EdgeRank improves. We discussed EdgeRank and content in our previous blog - What did you say? Why great content is crucial to your social media marketing. If you missed it, do yourself a favour and have a look. Creating relevant content dovetails with your posting schedule and is often the deciding factor of what, when and how often to post.

As my social media lecturer drummed into our class, “nobody likes the person in the room who talks about themselves to the exclusion of everything else”. I’m sure we’ve all met one, the bore that you eventually ‘tune-out’ of your hearing spectrum, and your life. Don’t become a social media equivalent! Your audience will develop ‘post blindness’ to your marketing if they see the same style of post saying the same thing day after day.

The 5:3:2 Ratio:

The aim of the 5:3:2 ratio is to balance posts promoting your business with those about events, developments and interesting information within your business field. These posts are then interspersed with posts that help ‘humanise’ your business. Let’s take an example of a plumbing service. They need five eye-catching posts with good content that will encourage engagement to promote their business. A post headed ‘Five tell-tale signs that your geyser might be in distress’ will create a lot more interest than ’Contact us for all your geyser problems’. Here you are offering the potential audiences valuable information on how to recognise geyser problems BEFORE they happen, instead of just telling them that your comany can fix geysers. If your potential customer does recognise a problem with their geyser after reading your post, who do you think they will be most likely to call? You of course! You’re the one who bought the problem to their attention in the first place.

This can be extended into posts like ‘A simple guide to fixing leaking taps’ or ‘Safe products for unblocking drains’. By doing this you are establishing yourself as the go-to person for plumbing problems and information instead of ‘just another plumbing service’. If the company have a website, they can create a blog page for these articles. That will allow them to redirect their social media audience to their website, which in turn can further promote sales.

The type of industry interest information that a plumber can post may include 'A comparison of home water filter systems', "New developments in pipe lagging materials', or even 'Grey water recycling systems'. Look to your industry for guidance and inspiration. What is new in the industry? Follow plumbing groups (global, not just local), read trade magazines, Search Google for latest plumbing trends. Once you start you will be surprised at just how much information there is available. While writing this post I Googled ‘Plumbing trends 2018’ and immediately found at least 8 topics that could be turned into interesting and content valuable posts.

Personal information posts help to humanize your business. A picture of your smiling receptionist (Meet Marlene, the voice behind our business), or work team on the job (Joahnnes, Thabo and Sipho putting the finishing touches on our latest bathroom installation), or the office pet (Our boss, Fido!). This will go a long way to establishing your company as approachable, friendly and personable.

You can apply this strategy to all business sectors from estate agents to boutique owners, accountants to restaurateurs. It just requires effort on your part to develop the right content.

But how often should you post? There are no fixed rules and it is industry specific, but the 5:3:2 ratio should be adhered to. When starting to establish your post schedule I suggest you examine your own social media behaviour as a base. If you get annoyed when receiving 2-3 advertising posts a day from a company, then don’t follow suit! I suggest no more that 3 posts a week unless you have something very important to say or offer. But remember to follow a business promotion post with an industry interest post and then intersperse a few personal posts in place of the interest posts.

I actually suggest only 2 posts a week to my clients, and the analytics support this strategy well. An example of my posting schedule explains it well:

Facebook: Week 1: Business / Interest

Week 2: Business / Personal

Week 3: Business / Interest

Week 4: Business / Personal

Week 5: Business / Interest.

Instagram: Week 1: Business / Interest

Week 2: Business / Personal

Week 3: Business / Interest

Week 4: Business / Personal

Week 5: Business / Interest.

Twitter: Week 1: Business / Interest

Week 2: Business / Personal

Week 3: Business / Interest

Week 4: Business / Personal

Week 5: Business / Interest.

The idea is for people to look forward to receiving your posts on their news-feeds. Don’t just post for the sake of it. Rather post less but be consistent to whatever schedule you decide upon.

Keeping an eye on your social analytics will tell you how effective your posts have been and help you tweak your post types and frequency accordingly. Kevin Lee’s recent article for Buffer, 26 Free Social Media Analytics Tools, will help you to find the best analytics tools for the job.

This 5 – 3 – 2 rule of thumb can be applied to all of your social media platforms. Remember that Instagram is a visually rich platform, so you will be including less information (text) and more ‘eye-candy’. Twitter is more geared toward comments, opinions and conversation. Consider your platform when developing your post content, and don’t forget to answer and interact with people who comment on your site timeously.

As with all social media marketing, doing it right involves time, thought and effort. If you recognise the importance of having a social media strategy but feel you don’t have the time or creativity, you may want to consider contracting a freelancer or company to do it for you. It isn’t as expensive as you may think and could be essential to your business growth.

I do hope that this article has helped you. Please leave us a like or a comment with any feedback or suggestions of topics you would like us to cover.

The Design Train offers tailor-made packages for small businesses and will be happy to help you keep your marketing on track. Visit our website at The Design Train.

Until next time – Cheers from The Train Driver

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