At cocktail parties doctors are frequently asked for medical advice. Lawyers are asked for their legal insight into high-profile verdicts. And, marketers are asked about social media. A frequent question is: how often should companies blog or tweet or post on Facebook?

There is sometimes a desperate hope that the answer will be “Oh, you really don’t need to do as much as people say you do”. However, for many companies, the answer is the opposite. And, deep down, you know if this is you.

Here are some rules of thumb:

  • Buffer recommends posting to Facebook once or twice per day, Twitter 5-20 times per day (20 times!), and LinkedIn once per day on weekdays only
  • Problogger suggests 1-3 blogs per week

But, all of these things take time, and the default solutions of adding this to one person’s workload or spreading the responsibility across the organization simply are not good enough. They’re not good enough because they don’t work. This is the real operating world where you are relying on content from people whose core responsibilities are not executing a marketing plan.

Your leadership team may have decided that blogging more is important for business. They may have all agreed to submit content to your marketing team at least once per quarter. You may even have gone so far as to include this as a metric in their performance review. But, when push comes to shove, and there is something else mission-critical on their to-do list (and there always is), that white paper or tweet tumbles down the priority list.

This is Content Marketing Aspirin. Social Media.when producing content for marketing becomes taking a vitamin rather than an aspirin, and like vitamins, it gets forgotten.

Our answer: do less. Yes, we’re marketers, and marketers are expected to prescribe doing more. We are expected to say this because doing more should move you closer to your goals. It is professionally irresponsible to tell you what you want to hear when it isn’t right.

Here are two important considerations for your content calendar:

  • Consistency and sustainability. If you can commit to one blog post per week, but not two, commit to one. Be consistent and reliable. You don’t want things to fall through the cracks, and your marketing efforts, being the face of your company, must not communicate that they do. If at some point later you feel able to do more, and can commit to being consistent and reliable with that higher frequency, then go for it. Here’s a caveat! There will come a point when it doesn’t make sense to dedicate resources to a particular channel unless you can meet some minimum frequency. For instance, if you can only blog once per month, the results may be negligible, and you would achieve more for your business by dedicating that hour to focusing on sales or operations instead.
  • Quality and relevancy. Build in enough time to proofread for grammar and readability. Does your content flow or is it disjointed? Are you slapping something together just to share content and check the box? Are your readers going to be interested in the topic? In what you have to say?

If you can achieve better consistency, sustainability, quality, and relevancy by doing less, do less. This will move you closer to your goals.

At the end of the day, what it’s really going to take to meet your content publication goals is discipline. That’s the harsh reality, and there’s no way around it.

The good news? There are ways to make this process a little smoother. Use a social media scheduling tool that draws from a content bucket, and keep that bucket full. Combine that with listening tools to make sure you don’t miss juicy news. Integrate this with a project management tool that will help you streamline getting content in on time from the right people at your company.

A note of caution, however: Do NOT automate everything. Familiarize yourself with technology to see where it can augment what you are doing and where it could backfire. For example, we’re not fans of automatically sharing Facebook posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google +. Each channel has its own style and audience, so automatic cross-postings don’t make sense.

Here is the secret we’ll let you in on: Marketers don’t have a magic number or schedule for you. Every business and industry is different. Instead, we can help you find your number by testing and analyzing the results.

Routine discipline, analytical experimentation, and technology-powered marketing operations will guide you to content marketing frequency that truly works for your business.