Effective frequency. The theory that says when you expose a person to a message enough times, they’ll do exactly what you want them to do. It’s what’s happening when State Farm airs their “State of Unrest” spot and 50% of the dialogue is “Jake, from State Farm.”
They’re not telling you what to do in their catchphrase, but they are forcing you to walk around with their catchphrase in your head. Eventually you’re going to trust them and then one day, you’re going to pick them as your insurance provider.
Effective frequency is hardwired into every advertising professional’s head that they can’t help but bring it with them when they start social media channels for their brands. They think if saying it once is good, saying it 17 times a day is better.
I’m here to tell you: stop.
See, with traditional mediums like television and radio, the agreement has always included ads. We know, as consumers, that if we want to watch our favorite TV show or a live event like the Grammys, we have to suffer through some commercials.
TV shows even write mini-cliffhangers into their episode because we all know commercials are a necessary evil of TV watching. But with social media, the rules were changed on us. We downloaded an app as a way to connect with our friends and favorite celebrities, but then the app decided to bring ads into the mix. We didn’t ask for it or want it.
Because of that, your social audience isn’t primed to hear a message 20 times in a day. It’s annoying, it’s distracting and most of all, it’s ignored.
If you’re going to succeed in social media, you have to act like a human. More specifically, you have to post like a human. Because for people, social media platforms are about connection and about sharing. People aren’t motivated to sell a product so they don’t say the same thing over and over again.
Human’s post when they have something pretty to show, something fun to share or something funny to say. Your brand will be most successful if you follow those guidelines as well.
Otherwise, your message gets stale, your audience gets fatigued and your team becomes creatively uninspired.
Take a look at Target’s Instagram. There is no set schedule for their posts, but all their images are compelling and fresh. Every image follows their creative guidelines. When you think about Target as a corporation, they probably have 10 messages they could send out a day about sales, products or events going on. But that’s not their strategy for Instagram, because Instagram is not a place for their hard sell.
10 posts a day with insignificant messaging will never get as much attention as one strategic, creative post will get. People remember the creative jingle,they never remember the script.
Compare Target with the brand Good hYOUman. The first line in their bio is “Everyone has a story.” True statement, and a strategy that would kill on Instagram. Sharing stories is in the genetic code of humans. But they just don’t execute well at all.
They have everything they need to be an incredible brand, except that they post too frequently and no strategy. Some images are beautiful and totally capture the essence of the brand. Some are stolen memes that have no place on anyone’s Instagram except Fuckjerry’s (and even then it’s debatable).
And their engagement’s reflect it. Some posts get 3,000 engagements, some don’t even break 900.
But the rule doesn’t just apply to Instagram. Twitter is maybe the biggest culprit for brands saying things just to say them.
Think about it. Why, exactly, are you saying “Happy Friday, fans! What are you going to do this weekend?” You hate that kind of small talk in real life. Why in the world are you posting it to Twitter when you could say something so much more important. Not more serious. Just more important.
Your brand can’t turn out a home run every single post, but you have to stop saying things just to say them. Stop posting just because your strategy says you post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you don’t have anything to post that day that will excite your followers, just don’t.
Engage more that day in the comments, do more seeking out to like your fans’ posts. There are ways to stay top of mind and still get in front of your fans without giving them the same tired, meaningless message over and over.