Spencer's first law of social media content

Many people who are just getting started in social media for their business or organization are puzzled as to what they should talk about -- and many get it wrong. One of the most common mistakes I see? Thinking that social media is just another way to advertise.

It isn't.

In fact, being overly promotional on social media is a sure method for chasing people away. Instead, think of your arrival in social media as being the same as your arrival in a traditional village -- Marshall McLuhan was right: the world is becoming a global village. Think about it: if you were brand new in a traditional village, would you introduce yourself by loudly announcing how great you are, and offering folks the chance to buy stuff from you?

Probably not, at least if you hoped to stick around for more than a day or two.

What would you do instead? You'd probably start out not by talking, but by listening, so you could learn how things were done around here. And when you did talk, it would be to ask how you could help. Need a hand fixing that roof? Tilling the vegetable patch? Milking the goats?

Then, once you had shown that you were a valuable person to have around, people would be interested in doing business with you -- but not before.

It's the same in social media. Except that on social media, you're not thatching roofs or milking goats, you're posting content. Just the same, that content must be valuable. What makes content valuable? It's either useful or entertaining, or both.

And that's my first law of social media content:

Be useful, or be entertaining.

Here's an example. Suppose you have a bicycle shop, and you've started a Facebook page for it. You might be tempted to post a bunch of promotional stuff, like "This weekend only! 15% off tires!"

Don't. Instead of pushing tires, try posting tips about how to choose tires, or the easiest way to change them. That's useful content. Ot maybe, if there is such a thing, post a funny story about tires. That would be entertaining content (I hope).

You don't want to push yourself on people, you want to draw them to you, via the value of your content. The point is to build a network of trusted connections, just like in a village society. That network is where the value is in social media. Selling is for your website or your store.