What to post and not post online

In our March issue, we will offer readers five dos and three don’t’s to online marketing. However, I wanted to get a bit granular and look at the content of what we should be posting online instead of when and how we post.

1. Make your posts interesting

If all you are publishing is status updates with announcements or sales pitches, your followers will get bored fast. Social media thrives on varied content. Post links to articles, upload photos and video, or write a status update that poses a question.

For instance, my local auto repair shop will ask questions on their Facebook page to see if their customers are “Smarter than a permit driver,” which are about driving safety and rules, which I answer correctly every time, of course. … People answer, and the shop will reply with the correct choice and engage specific commenters.

2. Don’t write just about yourself/your company

In the dealership, you wouldn’t spend the entire time talking and expect the customer to listen. You ask them questions and you listen attentively to the response.

Social media works similarly in that it is most effective when it is engaging. Posting a question is so powerful is it gets followers to comment and answer. Don’t ignore those comments – read them and reply directly with a thought or even a follow-up question.

The question doesn’t have to be directly related to boating ­– it could be as simple as what your customers are doing this weekend or what their plans are for watching the Super Bowl. Trust me, they would love to tell you all about themselves.

3. Use peer review for posts

Is writing interesting content that people want to read the most intimidating part of blogging on your company website? Us too – and we write for a living.

We all know we need to post frequently on blogs, but that can be terrifying if we are worried the writing isn’t good. The only way to know is to ask for help. Ask someone to read your blog posts before you publish and ask for feedback. You don’t need to hire an editor to correct mistakes with a red pen – ask someone to read it from the standpoint of a blog follower and answer the question “Is it interesting?”

4. Don’t post content without attribution

Did you write the linked article you are sharing? Is the photo you are posting your own? If the answer is no, be sure to add a comment about where you found this content.

5. Don’t talk about what you wouldn’t talk about at a family dinner

That means religion, politics, etc. Unless it is directly relevant to your business (such as your involvement with the American Boating Congress), it is just a recipe for trouble.

6. Your caps lock button isn’t frozen … let it go

A message in all caps is not an automatic attention grabber –­ in fact, it’s a deterrent. Posting in all caps is the Internet’s way of saying to readers that you are yelling your message, and no one likes to be yelled at.

7. Be fun

Social media posts that aren’t fun are … well, not fun. Your followers won’t care unless it is interesting. You don’t have to be stiff to maintain a professional tone – just be casual and enjoy your online posting.

Look at the pages you have “liked” on your personal Facebook page and the companies you follow on Twitter: Which pages post the best stuff? Which companies are the most interesting to follow? Learn from their tone and get ideas for how to develop your own unique voice.

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