There’s an analogy we use when describing social media to our clients:

Each social media network is like a different sort of social gathering.

The first is the blog post. With a blog post, you’ve invited someone to your home and are now going to spend a few minutes telling them what you’ve been up to.

The second is the Facebook post. Facebook is like a backyard BBQ. It’s filled with friends and acquaintances. Some you’ve known since childhood. Some a dear friends or family members. Some are folks you know through business or they’re a friend of a friend. As you meander through the backyard, you offer a bit of conversation here, and gather a bit of information there.

The third is Twitter. Imagine walking through a crowded parking lot on your way to a big sporting event or music festival. There may be fans that you’ve met at other such events. Perhaps you’ve arranged to meet friends there. Many of the folks you see may be strangers. But you’ve all come with a common desire to see your favorite band or team. As you make your way through the parking lot, you overhear a snippet about a Bruce Springsteen concert. “You were there? I was there too! Great show, right?” And then you go on your way.

Instagram combines some of the familiarity of the Facebook backyard BBQ with the random encounters of the Twitter crowd, but in a much more visual way. Some stories, some pictures and graphics.

All that being said, it’s important to remember that each of these is a tool for engagement. We all have a friend (let’s call him “Bob”) who is a one-issue person. Perhaps it’s a cause or a new career, but Bob seems to center every conversation around what Bob wants to talk about. You invite him over for dinner, and before the salads hit the table, he asks, “Have I told you about my new widget? You should buy one.” You run into him at the BBQ – drink in hand – and ask him about his family. “Oh, they’re great, but have I told you about my widget? You should buy one.”

After a while, you no longer want to invite Bob to your social gatherings.

Don’t be like Bob.

How you interact in each of these social settings is important. The same storytelling and hashtags that worked in the parking lot may not resonate amongst your friends in the backyard. The folks in the parking lot aren’t as “familiar.” Sure, you can relate the same stories, but your methods have to fit the audience.

Likewise, WHEN you talk to these folks is important. If you really, really need to impart something of great value, think about when you might want to share it on Facebook. When do YOU use Facebook? When does your mother or old college roommate?

If one were to share an important link about an upcoming event, it would gather traction if it were posted more than once, and at completely different times. For example: Monday at 9 am, then again on Wednesday around lunchtime, and then perhaps Thursday in the early evening. There are few who scroll Facebook all day every day, so you’ll likely not turn someone off from seeing the same post, but be more likely to hit during the browsing habits of all of your friends and followers.

You should also examine the frequency of your postings. If you rampaged through the BBQ shaking hands and shouting “HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!” you would quickly run out of folks to talk to and quickly wear out your welcome. By the same token, interacting with but one person in the Twitter parking lot would make for a boring walk, and would make you a boring attendee.

It’s important to remember that successfully interacting with all of these friends, fans, and followers is less about frequency than it is quality and consistency.

So, where to start…

Your blog. This is your most intimate gathering, and being too frequent is too much. If you have a great deal to say, a good rule is every week to ten days between blogs. For many of my clients, I’ve arranged a blog on a set day of each week. On Monday, I post one for this client. Tuesday sees a new blog for this client, and so on. As I plot my social media activity, this new blog can now be shared across platforms on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… I may return to a blog weeks or months later depending on the relevance of the topic. For example, to promote an upcoming event I may create a social post with the relevant details and then share a link to last year’s blog about the event.

Facebook should be visited at least once daily, but bearing in mind the various browsing habits of our friends, at least twice is more appropriate. You wouldn’t want to share the same information in the morning as you do in the evening, but you’re at least telling your friends that you’re still out there providing valuable content, and they’re more likely to check back on you more often (or even take a stroll through your timeline!).

Twitter moves much faster. There are a lot of people in that crowded parking lot. A single tweet gets lost quickly in that crowd. If you’re posted to Facebook twice per day, you should be on Twitter 4-6 times…

…Bear in mind, part of this overall interaction is ENGAGEMENT. If your only interaction is promoting your blogs, services, and news, you’ve become Bob, encouraging everyone you meet to buy your widget.

Don’t be like Bob.

Part of your daily engagement should be liking other posts, sharing the news from other friends, and sharing the occasional comment – participating in the conversation. And each post need not be strictly about you. It’s okay to share something you found heartfelt, or simply good for a chuckle. These habits show that there’s a person behind the account – it’s not some automated program churning out content.