A friend of mine works for a big, I mean BIG, nonprofit. They have a Twitter account and a Facebook page. She asked me my opinion on the right frequency for posting to their social network streams. My answer to her was “never”.
I hear this question a lot. The answer is, “Post in whatever frequency your social graph demands.” It’s an easy answer, actually, but rarely the answer the asker is looking for. There is no fire code capacity beyond which will ban you for life from the social nightclub. There is only what is right for your unique mix of followers. If you’re answering questions, curating content, and starting discussions, you could conceivably post more than 100 times a day. See NPR’s Senior Strategist and one man tweet flood, @acarvin. On the other hand, the KISSmetrics Marketing Blog recently released an infographic on best practices for timing and frequency in Twitter and Facebook that suggests we should post to Facebook 0.5 times a day.
Image via Wikipedia
My friend’s company does not participate in online conversations. (Clarification update: It’s not that they have an official no-participation policy, but responses are purposefully extremely rare.) That means that they do not respond to social media nor mentions in the press. Linking to or mentioning any entity or article online is out too, since it might be considered an endorsement. Participation in social media is a time and manpower commitment, and they do not want to spend time responding when they could be messaging.
Their current view of their Twitter and Facebook presence is one of broadcast messaging only. No conversations, no openness, no insight, just announcements.
Well, that’s hardly ‘social’ media at all! The purpose of having a social media presence should be to build 2-way, give and take, social relationships with your audience/customers/contributors that aren’t possible through traditional broadcast media.
To that end, I’d argue that participation and responding to their constituents via social media IS (or should be) a big part of their messaging. It shows they care about the individual contributor, they’re accessible, they’re listening, and that they’re an organization made of real people.
When I follow, friend, or add you to my social graph, I am inviting you into a mutually beneficial relationship. As a member of my social graph,
- I expect value from your posts I can’t get elsewhere.
- I expect there to be humanity and authenticity behind your posts.
- I expect responsiveness. (think minutes and hours)
- I expect your social media presence to be merely the technical vessel for communication with a real person I can engage with, and get closer to.
Make good on these expectations, and I’ll reward you with loyalty and by spreading your good reputation throughout my graph.
image by inezzy, on Flickr
Why the right answer for when her nonprofit should post is “never”.
It’s obvious that her company isn’t looking to make good on any of those social expectations. Their no-response PR practice calls them out as a bad friend, unworthy of social engagement. For them, it’s better to not have a social presence at all rather than having one that doesn’t even try to live up to to the expectations of the members of their social network. It might, in fact, be harmful to appear to have a social presence but be unresponsive when a constituent invites them to a conversation.
It’s a trite analogy, but what good is a having a phone number if you never intend on answering the phone? (Other than my case in which I need to have a phone number I don’t answer to have a data plan for my iPhone.)