“There is no marketing cure for sucking.”
— Mark Schmulen, Constant Contact

When you’re new to social media, getting people to notice you is near the top of the To Do list.

How many times a day should you post? How do you get new followers? How do you even get people to notice you? But the real secret to social media success? None of that stuff matters.

OK, I lied: It all matters. But not when you’re getting started.

Once you’ve learned the basics, push those strategic questions aside before you short-circuit your efforts: Social media is a revolving showcase of shiny objects for the easily distracted – from world events to lolcats — and if your content sucks the rest is just unhelpful detail.

Substance > Style

Celebrating content as king – queen, if you prefer – is nothing new. But even if the core of social networking is a text box and a send button, there are countless ways to use that itty-bitty space to benefit yourself and your business. People are often drawn in by the weird, cute and trendy — but what really sticks is relevance.

Think specifically about the people who will be beneficial for you to connect with (hint: this is not “everyone”): Past customers, potential customers, related businesses. Focus on those who have a need for the product, information or service that you offer.

  • What can you share on a regular basis that will be meaningful to them?
  • What questions do people often ask?
  • What might people be hesitant to ask in person?

If you sell a product, sharable information could include maintenance tips or new developments. If you offer a particular expertise, sharing tips or reminders can be valuable. News and events that are related to your business will keep your audience informed — and help establish you as an information resource.

Occasionally, you can remind people that your business is available to help — but hold onto these wise words from Margaret Thatcher:

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

If you spend all your time telling people how great your business is, they’ll never be able to judge for themselves just how awesome you really are — and they won’t stick around to find out.

Getting back to details

Once you have a steady stream of useful information worked into your routine, and a growing community of people who are interested in what you have to say, the nitty-gritty becomes much more relevant — and easier to figure out.

  • When do people typically respond to the information you send?
  • Do the people in your network login from work, or is it more of an evening-and-weekend crowd?
  • What information do people find most useful, and would reposting it help connect with new people?

Social networks are not a build-it-and-they-will-come marketing miracle, but with focused brainstorming and attention to the information that matters, you’ll be well on your way to getting the results you’re looking for.