Does your business need to use social media? The easy answer is yes. As the cliché says, unless users can find you online, you probably don’t exist. But who has the time? And do you really need it? Your time is valuable, and there is so much to do. Before you start snapping pictures for Instagram and embark on writing content for your blog, figure out what social media can do for you.

How Often Should You Post?

Social media solves social failures, social interactions that don’t get to occur; if they did, they would benefit both parts. What this means is that social media allows users to find you, learn about your product or services, and decide whether they need you or not, all from the comfort of their own homes—or their phones, while they’re killing time and without the need of a pushy salesperson telling them to come to your store. The question you should ask yourself then is how difficult it is for your customers to find you.

If your product involves a fast and easy decision because it’s cheap, your customers are usually just passers-by; or you rely on other’s advertising because you sell well-known brands, as would be the case of a grocery store, you may not need to post too often.

If your product involves a lot of thinking and budgeting, because it is expensive or it is for specific clientele, say, those into obscure heavy metal bands, or the brands you sell are not too popular, and therefore you cannot rely on other’s advertising, then you need to post often to remind your customers you’re out there.

What to Post?

This depends on your goal and what you want the viewers to do. If you only want to remind your audience of you, a silly post will do. If you want to let people know about a new feature, you will need to elaborate some more. Make sure, though, that you follow these rules:

The post should reflect your brand meaning. If you sell cupcakes, you sell happiness. Don’t post anything angry or depressing, then. Don’t post about animal cruelty, post about the cat your office rescued and how much joy it brought to everyone. Now, if you’re a subversive artist, being angry at social injustice is game!
Be relevant. People need to care about your content to be motivated to read it. If they cannot relate, they’ll ignore it.
Give something back. Unless your audience can get something out of interacting from your post, they won’t interact with it. Think about it: Why do you share silly memes? Because they’re funny, they make you feel good, and when you share them to make others feel good too; you want them to know they came from you. People need to know they will get their peers’ approval to share your content.
Be brief. Boredom is your enemy. It signals the brain that the current goal is no longer attractive and we should be doing something else instead.

Where to Post?

Facebook or Twitter? Snapchat or Instagram? All of them? If your social media needs are high, you should use as many platforms as possible. However, you may need to tailor your content to each of them, depending on your audience. People use individual social networks quite differently. Facebook is a closed network, meaning that users can only interact with their friends and the friends of their friends. It is used mostly to strengthen bonds with people they already know. That is, you don’t friend strangers but people you probably already know in the offline world. People mostly share things that have an emotional weight attached to it: their children, their pets, their vacations, their breakfast (look what an amazing life I’m living!). What they’re looking for is social acceptance and to satisfy the need to belong. When you “Like” somebody’s post, you’re not only saying that you liked the post but that you like the person and that you want them to know that.

Twitter is an open network, meaning that you can follow and interact with anyone you want. Here people don’t try so much to strengthen existing bonds, but to create new ones, with the purpose of acquiring knowledge. Compare who you follow on Twitter to who you are friends with on Facebook. What do you get from each platform? On Facebook, people share content for their friends to see. On Twitter, we share content for the world to see. If you’re sharing technical information about your product and trying to persuade potential customers with rational arguments, an article link shared on Twitter may find a more receptive audience. If you’re trying a more emotional approach or to seduce your potential customers with evocative photos, humor, or a video, Facebook may be a better platform.

Instagram is also an open network, but because you share photos and is mostly used by a young demographic, you should only use it when your message is short, simple, and highly evocative. Do not be ambiguous: if only your close friends will understand the joke, it is not worth alienating everyone else.

Tell a story

Narratives are much more engaging than rational arguments. Why? First, they engage viewers on an emotional level. Regardless of what we like to think, humans are controlled by their emotions, not by their rationality. Second, they reduce counter-arguing. Our attention capability is so limited that we either focus on how the story unfolds or reasons to reject the message. That’s why we forgive so many plot holes in movies; we just don’t see them! So, instead of listing your product features and giving reasons to your customers on why they should buy it, tell them the story of how a character they could identify with solved a problem similar to what they could run into by using a solution you offer. Take inspiration from the TV commercials you like. Make sure that you include:

An identifiable character with a clear goal. Amrit, 28, owns a small bakery. Just bought a delivery truck to grow his business.
Conflict, the obstacle that will prevent your character to reach her goal. Amrit wants his clients to know that now he delivers. He thinks of printing brochures, but after buying the truck, he doesn’t have much money to spend on advertising.
Resolution, how your product or service saved the day. Using ePaisa marketing capabilities that integrate with MailChimp, Amrit sends an email to all of his customers letting them know about his truck.