Your Goal on Social Media is Notifications

Your Goal on Social Media is Notifications

Getting noticed on social media means showing up in people’s feeds. Most social networks work off of an algorithm that pushes your content to people more the more they like it, the more their connections like it, the more relevant it seems, etc. The details of any one of the algorithms that control feeds on social network are not precisely known.

In order to rise about the tornado level noise on social media, to have content even noticed, you need to work hard. Way back in 2010 Google CEO Eric Schmidt said “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until  2003.” That was back in 2010. Today nearly 25% more people use social media. You can imagine the rate of content creation now.

This ↓ does not work.

This ↓ does work.


(Don’t) Schedule Content to Post Constantly

Some advocate keeping your feed well supplied with content, so you’re always visible in your followers feeds. They’ll say, you need to show up as much as possible in your followers feeds, in order to be noticed. The logic is that eventually something will resonate with you, you’ll respond, and the poster will engage with you. They’ve freed up their time to engage with people, instead of trying to get your attention. A lot of content curation, or sharing links and summaries of blog posts, is predicated on this philosophy. There are products and services that cater to this idea. TweetJukeBox will pump out tweets at a steady stream, once loaded and activated. Post Planner takes streams of content and tweets them out to create a feed of content that your users like, and will therefore see more of.   

Quality over Quantity

In reality, if you’re posting every 15 minutes, auto posting or scheduling quotes and unedited links and summaries to articles, and constantly promoting your old blog posts (“evergreen posts”), you’re devaluing your feed. Any insights you might have had are buried under a pseudo RSS feed and quote calendar with content that is not your own.

This ↓ does not work.

This ↓ does work.

Listen and Reply

Rather than automate and scheduling hoping that people will respond to something, even better than posting very clever things, is if you listen to people and respond to what they say. Jump into conversations. You don’t need to spend your time and money loading your Twitter feed to automatically post every 15 or 30 minutes. Instead, spend that time listening and replying.

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 This ↓ does work.

So why am I right, when some of the people I quoted above, who disagree with me, are so popular and apparently influential?

The Goal

It’s nice to be followed on Twitter. But honestly, a lot of people never look at their home feeds anymore.

People look at Twitter based on searches, hashtags, lists and chats. So you might be one of 10,000 people someone followed, and you’ll probably not be noticed. If you’re on a powerful list, one that doesn’t have a ton of people on it, that people use basically as their default feed, that’s a step up. Your tweets will be noticed. I have two lists with a total of 111 people that I look at more often than anything else. People who post a steady stream of quotes, links to articles without any insight, who never reply to anyone, or who automate responses rarely make these lists of mine, and when they do, I can see their behavior quickly and I remove them.

Social media has become a horribly noisy place full of nonsense, obscenity and cold selling. In response to this, tools like Snapchat, which make it difficult to have tons of largely unknown connections, have grown in popularity. But there’s a level above being on lists.

The level above lists is notifications. If someone values what you say, they’ll turn on mobile notifications on Twitter or click on the star by your name on Facebook so your posts show up at the top of their feed or turn on post notifications on Instagram. If you’re generating noise constantly with filler content meant to catch the attention of people in aggregate, you’re not going to captivate the attention of specific people who would otherwise want to be notified when you post something new.

Your goal should not be to get followers. You shouldn’t be trying to shift people off of the social network you’re on to follow you elsewhere for whatever reason. Don’t stress about getting email sign ups when you connect with people on social media. You’re not trying to fluff up vanity metrics. Your goal should be to get people to want to hear what you say to the point that they turn on notifications for you. Those are people who are listening.

To get people to sign up for notifications and not shut them off, you need to produce quality. More important than quantity, it’s quality. Think about the last few times you unsubscribed from email newsletters. Was it due to the infrequency of them, or because you got something pointless or annoying, or you got things of only marginal use too frequently?

The Ask

Some people don’t even know what notifications are. When Instagram switched from listing most recently listed posts to an algorithm based feed brands were prompting everyone to set up notifications to see when they posted new content.

Some seem to do it regularly and it seems natural. Gary V regularly prompts people to turn on notifications for his posts. It feels like when people on YouTube request you follow them.

So do you ask people to click to get notifications from you? You should. Not with every post. And feel free to bring up the topic, advocating for it and showing your appreciation for those who do have notifications on for you. Just remember – with power comes responsibility. If people do turn on notifications for you, make sure your content is worthy. You’re not shooting for quantity, you need to focus on quality.

I’m going to expand on this subject with a shared slide deck and video. If you’re interested in me speaking on this subject at your event or company, let me know.



developer, writer, speaker

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