The Key To Online Success: Be Like Goldilocks’ Porridge

The first time I ever wrote about Twitter, I ended up with egg all over my face.

It was about five years ago, just when the service really started rolling. Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher were vying to get 1 million followers, and talking about Twitter was all the rage. So I jumped into the fray.

The only problem is, I didn’t really know what I was talking about. My USA TODAY column about Twitter become infamous for all the wrong reasons, such as me saying Twitter was nothing more than people sharing what they were going to have for lunch.

As I said, I really didn’t get it, though I am happy to say I have come a long way since. For businesses, especially for people and businesses that want to brand themselves as professionals and thought leaders, Twitter is an indispensible tool.

Yet just recently, I read some really interesting statistics: Of those who have signed up for Twitter, almost half never tweet, and in fact, only about 25% of Twitter account holders are considered “active” users, meaning they log in at least once a month.

Once a month?

Let’s just agree that once a month is hardly active. Once a month will do little to get you noticed and really does nothing to grow your name, brand, or expertise. Once a month is a waste of what time it does take to compose even that lonely little tweet.

And then there are the other folks – you know who they are, right? These are the people who log into, say, Facebook and seem to do nothing else with their day. They post and share and gawk and play, confusing activity with effectiveness. Not a few Facebook users block such accounts because the sheer volume of posts from the obsessives can be overwhelming.

So what is the right amount? Studies of big brands show that on Twitter, the magic number of tweets seems to be between three and five a day. Not more, not less.

On Facebook, most major brands (i.e., companies that really know what they are doing) post between one and three times a day, with two being the number that seems to be the most effective, that is, the number of posts that generates shares and likes and doesn’t seem to annoy people as being too much. Conversely, especially on a platform as interactive and busy as Facebook, posting only once a week is seen as too random to be effective.

The upshot is that the key to communicating online is to be like Goldilocks’ porridge. You don’t want to be too hot, you don’t want to be too cold, you want to be just right.

This is true no matter what online marketing activity we are talking about. Let’s say you have a blog and the last time you posted there was February 12th; that blog would look pretty stale to a newcomer, would it not? Similarly, if your website has “© 2012” at the bottom, or YouTube channel hasn’t been updated in a while, then that same staleness will carry over, and looking stale is a death knell in cyberspace.

So the moral of the story is that, especially online, if you want to grow and get buzz, then consistency is key. You need to post on your social media on a regular basis, keep your online profiles up-to-date, keep your website fresh, and generally look like an active Internet participant.

Potential customers and business associates will take you much more seriously if you do, and much less if you don’t.

Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is the senior small business columnist at USA TODAY, the Editor-in-Chief here at Small Business Connection, a speaker and spokesperson. He can be reached at

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