Don’t Just Talk About Yourself, Social Media Fundamentals, part 3

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This is part three in our series to help introduce social media to the publishers who feel like they haven’t figured it all out yet.

In part 1, we talked about why you might want to try jumping into social media, and in part 2, we defined what people want from your social posts.

Now, it’s time to get a bit more specific and help you avoid some of the pitfalls into which people tend to fall when posting to a brand’s social media pages.

Limit self-promotion

You’re in social media to promote yourself (or, more accurately, your company), but that’s not why your fans are there. Like real friends, they’ll put up with you talking about yourself for a bit, but no one like someone who’s completely self-absorbed.

Studies have shown that consumers don’t tolerate much self-promotion from brands. At most, only 20% of your posts should be about you, but you should aim for an even lower percentage. In other words, keep yourself out of it most of the time.

Take some time to think about why people like you and give them more of that. You have plenty of ideas that don’t make it to print, but social’s a great place for them. Ever started an article but decided it was meaty enough for your print? Or maybe you’d love to write about something that’s simply too short-lived and time-sensitive to be meaningful in a periodical… that content doesn’t need to go to waste.

You can also follow other brands your fans like and repost/share their content. In practice, most posts won’t be your original content – they just need to be interesting and relevant to your brand.

One note of warning: keeping your content relevant to your brand is really important. That means no meaningless photos of cats, dogs, or babies unless you can tie them in with the purpose of your page in some way. The reason is simple – people follow your page with an understanding of what you do. There exists an expectation that you’ll provide content of a certain type or style, and one of the worst things you can do is break the implicit promise you make to your audience. Filling their feeds with pictures of pets when they followed you for your excellent reviews of restaurants will make them unfollow you and, instead, encourage people who like pet photos to follow. Then, when it comes time to ask your audience to do something for you (read a new story in your digital edition, renew a subscription, or buy tickets to an event related to your brand), you’ll be talking to the wrong crowd of people.

Add context to ALL your posts

Whether you’re posting your own content or sharing someone else’s, simply sharing a link or posting the headline of an article isn’t enough.


You want people connecting with your content in an emotional or intellectual way to encourage likes, shares, and comments. To accomplish this, you need to start that conversation by including a thought of your own. Even if you’re the author of the content, you need to provide an additional observation, joke, question, or other conversation starter when you post it on a social page.

The value of this is that it presents you as a human being who’s actually read the linked material (don’t ever link to content you haven’t properly vetted) and has some sort of opinion about it, and this makes the suggestion that you’re also interested in hearing what other people have to say in response. If you post something without commentary of your own, you’re passively telling your fans that you don’t care if they comment either.

Provide value even when you do promote yourself

I said not to talk about yourself too much, but, of course, you’re going to on occasion. I mean, why would you be in social media if you weren’t going to promote your own stuff?

Just make sure you avoid these two situations… don’t slack off because you assume your fans already like you and would therefore share whatever you post, and, conversely, don’t give up trying to be creative because you think there’s no way to make a promotional post interesting to your audience.

An example of something you might see a publisher do that you should avoid is posting a picture of your newest cover (or any other important content) with a bland message like “New issue’s here!”. The use of an exclamation point isn’t fooling anyone, and unless the cover art is truly amazing, posting the photo won’t engage the audience. Just like you put teasers on the actual cover of a magazine to tell the reader what they’ll find inside, you want to tease the most interesting aspects of your content by explaining what you get by clicking through. So, instead of a lame comment and a photo of the cover, you could post a link to where the content lives (company blog, digital edition, etc) and say “This month, we finally get the interview we’ve been waiting for from Mr. So-and-So…” and maybe even include an interesting quote from the interview if it doesn’t make the post terribly long (short posts get better response).

It all goes back to the idea that you need to give people what they want. People are too busy with everything else on the internet to stop and read your content if they aren’t sure it’ll be good. So, make sure whatever you post gives the fan a reason to be interested. Just the fact that it came from you isn’t enough to do the job.



Stay tuned to the PPMG Blog for more in our series of social media fundamentals, and if this is helpful to you, let us know! Also, feel free to contact our Social Media Guy, Alon Waisman, if you want to get help with your own social media efforts.

Part 1: Fundaments: Give People What They Want — Part 2: What People Want


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