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How Much Self-Promotion Is Okay on Social Media?


Social Media

Katie Wagner
By Katie Wagner
KATIE WAGNER SOCIAL MEDIA

Telling your story is different from pushing your products and services. Your prospects can tell the difference, and if you get too aggressive with the promotion, they will pull back.

Business owners who put their companies on social media are doing it to boost their business. No one decides to take the plunge into social media because he doesn’t want any more customers or recognition for his brand. But, having said that, the companies that are the least successful on social media are the ones that think of it as simply advertising or a method to grow sales. Social media is about relationships. It’s about building a community around your brand or area of expertise. It’s about networking and conversation and authenticity. And although your social media strategy is part of your marketing strategy, try not to think of it as marketing. Instead, think of it as telling the story of your business. Nobody watches television and exclaims, “Oh good! The commercials are on!” Most people hate to be sold to, and your customers are no exception. So while you’re creating a community and telling your story, how do you ensure that your target customers know enough about your products and services to do business with you?

Forty Percent Original Content

What makes doing business with you different from hiring one of your competitors? Why would someone choose your company? Compelling social media content is about giving fans a window into the experience of using your company. You see, your website is your credibility tool—it talks about your products and services, and how someone can hire you. But your social media is your authenticity tool. It shows people what it’s like to work with you. This is where other people weigh in with their thoughts and opinions about your company. And it’s where new prospects go to do research on whom they’re going to hire.

Because working with you isn’t like working with anyone else, you don’t want your social media posts to look like anyone else’s posts. You have to dig in and discover what’s different about your business and share that. You need to bring value and share your expertise. You need to pull back the curtain and show your prospects behind the scenes. Forty percent of your content needs to be specifically about your business. It can be pictures, videos, blog posts, or graphics, but it needs to tell your story and help your prospects form an emotional connection with your brand.

Fifty Percent Curated Content

If you are using social media for business, your goal should be to become a resource for your fans. You want to be thought of as credible—an expert in your field. To do that, you do need to produce some original content. A series of blog posts or video tips can do a lot to build thought leadership. However, if you don’t have time to produce all of your content from scratch, that doesn’t mean you won’t have a successful presence on social media. It’s fine to have about fifty percent of the content you post for your audience be curated, not created from scratch. If you are consistently sharing news and developments related to your industry, people will start to think of your page as a place they can come to keep informed. And that’s good for business. You probably read industry publications and stay up to date on news in your field. Just make it a habit to choose the best articles, videos, graphics, and so on and share them on your page. If you can tag the original source of the article in your post, even better.

Ten Percent Promotional Content

So people love your brand and trust you as an expert in your field. But how do you persuade them to enroll in your workshop or sign up for your email list? How do you get them to call you for a free consultation? At the end of the day, your social media needs to drive action. Every business owner wants to get business from his marketing efforts—and social media is a great place to make that happen. But tread carefully. Only about 10 percent of your social media content should be self-promotional. Telling your story is different from pushing your products and services. Your prospects can tell the difference, and if you get too aggressive with the promotion, they will pull back. (Think about how you feel when you know that you’re being sold to.)

It’s okay to post about an event you’re having, or share a link back to a page on your website that talks about a particular service. This is an important part of what social media does well—it generates leads. In fact, fans that come to your website from social media are more likely to buy from you than those who find you another way. But share these types of posts in the spirit of being helpful and informative, not pushy. The right phrasing goes a long way in keeping your audience engaged and getting them to take action.

Not sure how to maintain the right balance in your content mix? Try creating a content calendar so that you have an outline of the types of posts you will put up. Good social media starts with setting up the channels properly. Sign up for our free social media checklist to ensure that your online presence is as effective as it can be.


Katie WagnerKatie Wagner spent fifteen years as a television and radio journalist, working for news outlets all over the world. As a professional storyteller, she knows how to engage an audience and build credibility, and she believes those skills are as valuable for business owners as they are for journalists. Today, Katie owns a social media agency and specializes in content creation and social media management.