Social Media Firestarter

Posted on December 16, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Business, Marketing, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , |

success-triangleAny High School student can tell you the three elements needed for fire: Air, Heat, Fuel. If you remove the source of any one of these three elements the fire goes out. Add sufficient sources of all three and you have a firestorm.

What does this have to do with Social Media? I think that there are the same three elements for starting a fire in your social media activities.

  1. Quality
  2. Consistency
  3. Engagement


Some will have you believe that Content is king. I think this is flawed and has led to many organizations making a huge mistake in their Social Media activity. Simply having a blog post everyday or sending out your branding message in a 140 characters 8 times a day on Twitter until you have hundreds of posts and thousands of tweets to your credit is not going to create any heat around your activity.

Quality of communication is the element that is required not quantity of content. If you have nothing to say, say nothing – this adage doesn’t only apply to polite conversation, it applies to all communication. So how do I measure quality. Firstly, is it useful, not just promotional? An example: A business that sells fruit baskets could choose to post endless “special offers” or they could post recipes, How To’s, suggestions for times to give baskets. Mixing in the odd “special offer” is now going to gain interest amongst readers not be rejected out of hand.


This doesn’t mean posting a blog entry everyday, nor posting a dozen useful links every morning to Twitter or Facebook. It does mean ensuring that what you post is suitable for your audience, relevant, helpful, informative, interesting, funny whatever your trying to become recognized for. Find something and do it regularly, consistently. Many organizations and individuals start out with unrealistic expectations of themselves and their ability to sustain Social Media activity. “We will post twice a day” or “five times a week” or some other measure of “consistency” but this is the wrong measure. What are you going to do when the day comes that you don’t have a post ready? Suddenly you have failed. You have missed a day or maybe two. Now your strategy has taken a hit. Better that you under promise and over deliver, even to yourself. Tell yourself you are going to post twice a week and then end up posting four or even five times a week, now you are ahead of your strategy. But the focus should not be on quantity but on quality, this is where the focus of your Consistency should be.


This is, perhaps, considered the most important of the three elements by some. As with the original fire triangle remove any one of the elements and the fire dies. An imbalance of the elements will also cause the fire to eventually die. Too much emphasis on any one element in your Social Media fire will result in the same thing. Engagement should not have a disproportionate value in your strategy. Trying too hard to engage with your audience is as off putting to them as the loud embarrassing uncle at a family gathering. Everyone wants to laugh at that joke but they have heard it a dozen times. By balancing quality & consistency with engagement the audience becomes engaged willingly. They feel that they are an equal partner in the engagement and value the engagement. This is the aim of engagement. Frequent enough that there is a familiarity, and sense of participation.

How will you start your Social Media fire?

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6 Responses to “Social Media Firestarter”

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a brilliant post as usual Simon. It would do us all some good to remember this dynamic, myself included. What it comes down to is relevancy. If it pertains to your audience in a way that you feel is suitable then by all means go right ahead. They are there to mirror you. At the same time don’t just give them more of what they think they want. Give them more of what they will want. They will let you know what this is by the little unspoken indicators that come up from them. It’s your job to be ultra-aware of these signs and to act on them. If we’re not trying to embetter others lives then what are we doing.

(sidenote, I REALLY like the infographic. Now THAT would be a spoken sign 🙂 )

“At the same time don’t just give them more of what they think they want. Give them more of what they will want. They will let you know what this is by the little unspoken indicators that come up from them.”

I couldn’t agree more Damien. This is an awesome article Simon. Glad that I found it via Damien’s twitter profile.

Hi Simon, thanks for commenting on my blog. I was totally intimidated about hitting up Mashable for a guest blogger gig. The only reason I did what I did was that I found out they were hiring and I really, really want to work for them. It’s not even the money, though I need money. It’s the association and prestige of being a Mashable blogger. The fact that you’ve guested for them makes you totally head and shoulders above me and I am honored you visited my blog. I have much to learn from you bro, sincerely michael

Thanks for coming and sharing your comments. As for being head & shoulders above anyone else, thank you for the compliment but I write what I write, I am grateful people want to read it. The folks at Mashable are amazing to work with and I am very lucky to have Sharon Feder as an editor who has a lot of patience with me.

Mike, I really appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment. I am glad you liked it.

Damien, thank you always an honor to have you come by and leave a comment. The sign is actually based upon the original Fire Triangle so I can’t claim too much credit for it. It did inspire me though.

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