In our latest installment of Wondering Wednesdays, I answer the question "How much is too much when it comes to social media?" 


I see three areas where there might be "too much:"

  • Too much "you"
  • Too much content
  • Too much enthusiasm

Too much "you"

A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule, that Rebecca Wissler referenced at last week’s LMA conference, and that is that 80% of your online interactions should be about others (engaging, listening, sharing their content, sharing relevant content), while only 20% should be about you (sharing your own content, etc). 

While broadcasting can be effective for many brands, if you’re using social media as an individual with the goal of building relationships, it’s best to abide by this rule and keep most of your interactions about others. 

Otherwise, it’s like making the social faux pas of walking into a networking event, where all you do is talk about yourself. It would be as if you’d taken a bull horn and walked around telling everyone who you are, what you do, and why they should talk to you. Yes, you’ll get a reputation, but it won’t be one you’ll want. You want to be top of mind because you’re helpful to people, not because you’re self-centered. 

Too much content

Even those abiding by the 80/20 rule can fall into this trap: that of posting too much content. There are two reasons you want to avoid this: 

  • You’re monopolizing everyone’s time: Picture going to a networking event where you walk around the room every five minutes, handing out an article you read, a photo you saw, your latest blog post, etc. As you do this, the paper people are holding gets heavier and heavier, and they start to want to avoid you as you’re coming around.

    It works the same way virtually – too much content has the effect of being virtually burdensome. It’s too much for people to read and consume, so they end up reading and consuming none of it. And you get a reputation for bothering people. 

  • Secondly, it makes it seem as though you have too much time on your hands. This may or may not be the case, but it’s leaving the definite impression that you’re not busy enough, which is another reputation that you don’t want to nurture.

Too much enthusiasm

This last "too much" is a tough one, because as an avid user of social media, I never want to dissuade anyone from using it. But there are times when you can be too excited to use social media – you’re posting too much content, posting it in too many places, liking everyone’s updates and posts, commenting on everything people say, etc. 

It’s great to be enthusiastic and to share and engage – but overdoing it can turn people off. It’s as if you go to a networking event and follow someone around the room the entire evening, touching their arm every time they say something and adding your thoughts to their words. 

While it’s nice to get recognition and have someone there as your personal cheerleader, it can also be tiring – and over time, whereas you might just say something in person, online you’ll end up withdrawing, and perhaps even unfriending or unfollowing the person doing it. 

My general rule of thumb for social media usage is to ask myself how I want to be treated – how much information do I want to consume? How much do I want to hear about someone else? How much do I want someone liking and commenting on everything I say and do? And then I apply that to my own behavior. 

Yes, we all have our own styles, and some people’s social media usage will always be too much, or not enough, for someone else. But hopefully, we can all find the balance with those individuals that we want to get to know, like and trust a little bit more, so we can keep building our social capital. 

What do you think? Add your comments below!