How often do your audiences want to hear from you?

As US journalist Sydney Harris, who died in 1986, once said “The two words information and communication are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.” 

26 years after Sydney Harris died some businesses continue to mistake information for communication, sending out huge volumes of untargeted, unfocused information, believing this to be the key to great communication.

The rise of social media as a business tool has compounded this problem significantly with the temptation to tweet and post anything and everything, risking sending hard-won supporters reaching for their mouse to click the ‘unlike’ button.

Just because it is possible to tweet or post every couple of minutes, doesn’t mean that you should! It might not be right for your kind of business and your kind of customers. Don’t fall into the trap of going for huge volumes in an attempt to be noticed.

Ask yourself: how often do your audiences actually want to hear from you?

Those organisations with a genuine ‘news’ element to their service (public venues, transport, tourism businesses etc.) sometimes have a genuine reason to communicate on an hourly basis with customers…but for most business there is no need and potential harm in tweeting your day on a moment-by-moment basis.

When thinking about your communication with customers try to create a balanced spread across your various communication channels, considering which are right for your type of business – and importantly, for what your customers want.

For example, below are reasonable frequencies for most businesses using the most often-used communications channels:

  • eShots or newsletters – monthly, unless your business genuinely demands a more frequent outing. Never more than once a week
  • Blog posts – one or two a week
  • LinkedIn status updates – two or three a week
  • Facebook posts – one or two a day
  • Twitter, news stories on websites – hourly, providing you have something genuinely interesting and relevant to say!

And to ensure that what you say is communication, rather than simply information, utilise the potential of these channels to create two way interactions. Ask questions, provoke debate, check to see if your audiences appreciate and value what you’re sending them.

If your customers vote with their mouse clicks (one way or another) take note of what is working/not working and change it.

That is what turns information into communication; a communicator who cares enough and is flexible enough to check the message is getting through, is understood and is valued.