The Importance of Consistency in Social Media

Consistency has two arms.

First is consistency of message, second is consistency of updates.

Consistency of Message
Consistency of message is sometimes referred to as “having a niche” but I find that “having a niche” means that you potentially lose a lot of your value. Let me share this example:  When I moved to Atlanta I had a hard time finding work. I’d left a job as a business analyst in the power company where I lived before, and I’d specialized in process measurements and metrics. So when I couldn’t find that type of work, I started working in a coffee shop.

The day after I was hired, my resume was forgotten. Any skills I possessed that weren’t directly related to making coffee, serving customers, and managing my team were not relevant. I still had those skills, but they weren’t needed, and so customers and senior managers alike assumed I didn’t have them. Employers and clients will reduce you to as few dimensions as they need or can utilize, you don’t need to do that for them. And next time you get coffee at a coffee shop, ask the barista what degree they’re working on, or what job they’d prefer to be doing? Barista is at the top of the employment food chain for precisely zero people.

That’s niche writing. If you focus so much on being an expert in one field, people will assume you have little or no knowledge of other areas.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re an economist, write about the economy. Just know that expanding your readership outside of economists depends on being able to talk about other things to engage those other people.

Consistency of Updates
The other part of consistency is posting regular updates. I’m not talking frequency here — you can consistently post updates every monday, or every lunchtime. Eventually your audience will expect to see an update at your usual time. What I mean is that if you post every Monday lunchtime, do it every Monday lunchtime.

Having said that, if you only share information once a week, you’re going to have a hard time creating a reputation as an expert in your field. If you post on the hour every hour, you’re probably outsourcing your messaging to other individuals or to technology.

I used to use Hootsuite to schedule tweets to get posted when I was asleep. I just wanted to stay visible. But here’s the thing about that. Twitter is a giant ongoing conversation about everything. Using tweet-scheduling is like putting a dummy in your seat at a conference. It’ll look like you’re there but you won’t learn or contribute anything.

My advice is that if you’re going to schedule anything, schedule your impersonal self-serving stuff. That will leave you free to make everything else that you tweet something personal and memorable.

Scheduling Tweets Can Go Wrong
There’s another problem with scheduling tweets – you have to remember what you’ve scheduled. You’ll only hurt your credibility if your scheduled tweet refers to something that changed between when you scheduled it and when it posted. For example here’s a hypothetical situation. You write a blog about government, and had scheduled a tweet to go out on May 1st, 2011. The tweet said “It’s time to release your long-form birth certificate Mr. President.” Unfortunately for you, you forgot that you’d written that tweet, and it went out as planned. And made you look like an idiot, because President Obama released his long form birth certificate on April 27th.

If you’re scheduling, you have to also make sure you’re reviewing for accuracy, and if you’re doing that, you might as well live-tweet, right?What you’re trying to do is pull off a high-wire juggling act. Tweet enough, but not too much. Tweet stuff that celebrates other people, but don’t for get your own web site. Have a schedule but don’t be too predictable. It takes time, and it takes patience, and more than anything it takes a lot practice and a lot of learning from mistakes.

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