The case for tweeting less

When I was in high school, I worked at my local Canadian Tire. From what I can recall, everyone I worked with was friendly, but there was one woman who was especially so. As an introvert, she stood out as everything I was not. She was extremely chatty, which I’m sure made her an excellent salesperson. I don’t remember much of what she talked about, but do recall one day in the staff room when she called out another staffer — a quiet 17-year-old lad — for always keeping to himself. He responded with “Sure, but when I do talk, people listen to what I have to say.”

As social media managers, we’re pressured to get our content in front of as many people as possible as often as possible. In higher education marketing and communications, we also have departments and groups across campus asking us to share their content along with our own. Feeds can get busy. Regardless the size of the institution, there’s always something else we could be sending out to our followers.

Tweeting frequently may mean that we have a greater chance to go viral, or that our brand may be more front-of-mind for our followers, but it also comes with the risk of annoying them and diluting our brand.

Think of reasons why you’ve unfollowed accounts on Twitter. Did they tweet too much? Was the content irrelevant to your interests? Ultimately, the account probably added to the clutter of your feed, and unfollowing them allowed you to better focus on content that you were more interested in.

There’s a thing I like to say when I’m encouraged to post about something that falls slightly outside our normal content themes:

Every tweet is an opportunity for someone to unfollow us.

The same goes for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and probably every other social channel. Every time someone is presented with one of your posts, they’re deciding whether or not they want to continue to follow you. If you’re going to give them that opportunity, you’d best make sure you’re not adding to the clutter. Focusing on high-quality content keeps you in users’ feeds for longer.

Tweeting less can also gives your content an opportunity to stand out. There are some accounts that I glaze over because they tweet far too often and their content is diluted. I think we all do this. Other accounts stand out in my feed as ones I want to read. This is what I want our instituion’s account to be for our followers.

We work hard to grow that follower count and build our social communities. The CBC recently published a story about the University of Prince Edward Island’s Twitter account being the third-most followed university account in Atlantic Canada — an obscure ranking to be proud of, until you realize the only schools that had more followers have close to four times as many students as we do. We asked ourselves how we scored that third place spot, and “we don’t tweet too much” was one of the few things we came up with. When we tweet, we try to make it count.

I firmly believe that—in many cases—less is more, that what we’re saying is more important that how much we’re saying, and that the quiet kid in the Canadian Tire break room made a decent point that a lot of social media managers may want to consider.