Social Media Explained in Simple Math 12 Lessons Learned

Note: The author of this article updated this post on March 4, 2021.

Social media explained in simple math is my attempt to simplify and demystify social media.

Also, it is an attempt to debunk common practices and perception about it.

These are fundamental lessons that I’ve learned for more than a decade.

Social media awesomeness ratio (kindness for kindness) | 1

kindness for kindness social media

Kindness thrives in social media.

What it means is that to get more followers/fans, likes and RTs or reshares, you would need to take the initiative yourself and that initiative gets rewarded.

You may try asking for a retweet but if you are just new and haven’t formed relationship yet in the space which takes time that would be too much to ask.

Grab others’ attention by giving them YOUR attention first. “Like” them, retweet and mention them.

Will they reciprocate?

Honestly, not everyone but that means that you can repeat the process, sift the ones that respond to you – put them on a list then move on.

Access is not permission | 2

social media access is not permission

This would have something to do with groups (including Twitter chats), communities or forums.

Groups have rules whether that’s LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, etc.

Some groups tell you what those are like Facebook groups, for example, but others don’t.

You may get excited to tell others in the group about how awesome you are, how great the products and services you’re selling, and how great the article you write.


Hold your horses before doing that.

Here’s one best practice when in new in a group: listen first.

An example is a group for the Social Media Content Challenge that I hosted, a.k.a #30DaysofSoMe.

Our Google+ group when it was still around was the hub for participants. It has zero-tolerance for spam/sales-y posts. Even with rules spelled out, someone still attempted to spam it.

You could get kicked out from the group if you abuse access to it.

If you are unsure about rules, ask the moderators.

Email is another example.

Just because someone gave you their email address doesn’t mean that you can send them 2-3 emails per day. Thankfully, there’s “unsubscribe” as an option.

Activity in social media is not productivity | 3

activity is not productivity 1

Your effectiveness is not equal to the number of posts you share or how much time you spend in social media.

Social media is important but keep it in check.

More is not always better.

Focus on what yields results. Track your data.

You will exhaust your valuable time, especially if you are a startup, or a company with very lean resources.

Optimize your activity by being timely, and by making posts shareable.

Quality trumps quantity | 4

quality better than quantity

Provide content that is relevant and helpful for your target audience.

If you are writing a blog, focus on evergreen topics.

How would you know what topics your audience like? Find out by checking Analytics or other digital marketing data.

You don’t have to do this every day but doing it regularly is beneficial for your business.

Need help? *cough* I offer social media coaching. Oh, here’s one easy way to find out, ask them.

280 characters less | 5

twitter characters

Remember when we only had 140 characters to tweet?

Then in 2017, Twitter listened and doubled the size of that. However, the length of your tweet really doesn’t matter – it is the message that matters.

With Twitter being a fast network, people in there do not really intend to read a long post.

Track Social did a study about the ideal length for a tweet – and that was back when we were only allowed 140.

tweet how long 2

I can’t find a more recent study but I believe that since we, humans, hardly change our habits, we still prefer tweets shorter than what Twitter allows.

Hence, just because there is a lot of space in the description section doesn’t mean that we have to use all of it.

Let your content breathe.

80-20 “rule”| 6

Of all the content you post on your business profile in social media:

~ 80% of content should benefit the audience. Content doesn’t have to be linear but, for certain, it has to be and should be for your audience.

~ 20% of posts about your product or services.

Should you be sharing business-related content in your personal profile? I do not use my personal account to sell, but I sometimes share content from my page that I think will benefit my personal contacts.

I do not set this rule in stone, but you get the idea.

Number of likes (or followers) isn’t ROI, #7

Social media explained | Likes are NOT ROI

No matter what you do. Social media should drive leads toward the company’s bottom-line (of the funnel). Likes won’t pay bills. Likes won’t pay employees’ salary.

Social media CAN be used as a tool to help drive sales along with other marketing media tools that you use for your company – email, press release, marketing slicks, website landing page, etc. It can be used to collect leads and to track sales-related pre-determined key performance indicators (KPIs). Note: Social media is just one of the tools but it is an essential tool especially these days.

Posts aren’t engagement, #8

Social Media Explained | Posts aren't engagement

Posting is not engaging with your audience. Analytics and Insights have different ways of looking at engagement technically. Don’t miss the “social” in social media though. Engage. If no one is engaging with your brand, don’t wait. Take the first step. Get out of the broadcasting mode and start engaging with others.
Hubspot did a really interesting study in Facebook. Some niches are engaging and others are yet to catch up.

Best brand advocates are accounts with less followers, #9

Social Media Best Advocates

According to Buffer:

Mention analyzed over 1 billion social mentions from the past two years, and in their analysis they found that 91 percent of mentions come from people with fewer than 500 followers. 

I believe  this to be true in my experience. Therefore, don’t get obsessed on getting the attention of the influencers those with thousands of followers. Find and develop relationship with brand advocates.

Brand awareness is different from website traffic, #10


Both are goals. To achieve each would sometimes require  different strategies and you’ll be looking at different metrics as well.

A startup client recently asked my opinion on their plan to pull out their account from Twitter. I told them that I’d check their Google Analytics before I’d give them my advice.

They like Facebook. They like Pinterest. Brand Awareness is their topmost goal.

I showed them THIS report (see image below).  While, it is true that they are getting a lot of traffic from Pinterest, their pinners aren’t spending time on their website. On the other hand, their Twitter visitors are clearly doing “something” on their website because they are spending MORE time there. There’s brand awareness KPI.

Sample Social Repot from Google Analytics

It all boils down one thing, the goal.
Unless you have a person focused to do social for your company full-time, focus on one goal at a time because you can’t be best at everything at the same time.

Your online profile is your digital business card, #11

Social Media Explained | Social Media Profile - Your Online Business Card

Imagine going to a business networking event without a business card. You exchange business cards with people at networking events; not carrying one – all the time – is networking fail. That is what a social media profile is like.
Complete your profile first before asking others to follow you.

There is a human being behind an avatar, or logo, 12

Social Media Explained | Be Human

You are not just engaging with an avatar, or a logo. You are engaging with human beings; therefore, humanize your posts. Show your personality. Show people who you are and the people in your team.

Chef Ivan Flowers Facebook page is an example that comes to mind. He does not only share tips and the food he prepares but he also sometimes shows a photo of his team – and that they like to have fun in his kitchen too.

There’s social media explained – in simple math. Anything else you like to add?

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