How often to update social media? How often to shop for groceries?

A question I hear all the time from those managing office, departmental or organizational social media channels is how often to update: “How often should I update our Facebook page?” “How often should we tweet?” “How often should we do that Instagram thing?”

My answer for all organizations and institutions, large and small, is the same: You should update when you have something interesting to say or share.

It’s that simple. If you don’t buy that because some alleged social media guru advised updating at 8:55 a.m. every Thursday, let me put it another way.

How often do you shop for groceries?

You shop for groceries when you need something, right? You don’t say, “I shop for groceries three times a week,” and then feel compelled to go grocery shopping even though you don’t need anything, do you? Of course not.

fbrecentSame thing with social media. If you have something relevant worth saying or sharing, say or share it. If you don’t, maybe you should do something else and come back when you do.

If you run a Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, Tumblr, [insert name of trendy platform] or other social media channel, think about it in the context of receiving text messages from an acquaintance. If you (like some Facebook pages), post lame chatter like “How is everyone’s Monday?” “What are you having for lunch today?” or “What’s your favorite movie?” — consider some random acquaintance sending you these text messages. You’d think that person is fairly lame (or creepy) and would just assume everything they send is just as lame (or creepy). So you could block them (not dissimilar to unsubscribing from a page) or just ignore their messages.

If your Facebook page or Twitter account is spewing info for the sake of spewing info, then everything you send will automatically be seen as less important. Moreover, if you haven’t updated a Facebook page in several months, did you need it in the first place? So many people feel they have to “have a Facebook” or “set up a Twitter” only to abandon them with the wreck and refuse of so many other discontinued accounts.

If you want to maintain a Facebook page, Twitter account or other channel, content strategy is key. You should think about updates that are important to your audience. You should get a feel for what they respond to and find interesting. You should map interesting content within the context of what’s happening (i.e. do you have Admissions Open Houses, major speakers, campuswide events, etc.?) You shouldn’t say, “Oh, I haven’t updated our company’s Facebook page this week … so I should ask everyone what their favorite type of pasta is.” (Unless, perhaps, you’re a pasta company.)

So there you are. If you don’t have something interesting to say or share, why force it? You also could go looking … or sometimes (in our case) content just suddenly comes across your path. Stay active, engaged and watchful. But most of all, stay interesting.

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