For me one of the joys of Twitter is the great articles that are shared amongst the online community.

And one particular link really hit the spot for me when I clicked on it recently – it led to this somewhat tongue-in-cheek illustration of when and where to post status updates. Out of this I see 5 basic questions you should ask yourself before posting your news.

1) Do you want anyone to see it?

Of course you do, that’s why you are posting isn’t it? But, all joking aside, you need to know where your target audience will be, and which social media platform you need to use to reach them. It sounds obvious, but it can be such a waste of your time and energy if you are posting, but not reaching anyone who cares about what you have to say.

2) Are you in a bar?

Personally, I don’t get this one. I have no desire to ‘check in’ wherever I go, and I don’t think my target audiences are really interested where I am at any given moment either. Some people love tagging themselves in this way, but you have to ask yourself what you achieve by anyone knowing where you are, and whether this a positive thing.

3) Is it business or is it personal?

Now this one I love, because it first introduces the Don’t post it option – an option that should always be borne in mind. It introduces the consideration of whether you would want your boss or parents to see the truth you are about to share online. But let’s also add your clients, or prospective clients to that thought. Sometimes it may be better to say nothing at all, particularly maybe if you are in that bar!

4) Is it boring?

According to the flow chart, if it is business and boring, your status update should go on LinkedIn, and you should keep the fun stuff for Facebook or Twitter. Business updates don’t have to be boring, but it is true that LinkedIn is where professionals gather and it did start out primarily as a place to be seeking work, or seeking new people to work with, a place to display your CV.

However, Twitter is increasingly a place to do business too, but that business comes in a less formal way, out of the know-like-trust relationship that builds from business people sharing in a social space, as can also happen on Facebook fan pages.

5) Are you addicted to Likes?

It is true, watching your Facebook ‘Likes’ or Twitter ‘Follows’ grow can be exciting, and ultimately addictive. Of course we all want to be liked, and for people to want to follow us and be interested in what we have to say is flattering. But these are just vanity scores.

What really matters for small businesses is building up social relationships that might lead to business without the hard sell… true relationship marketing. Surely it is better to have fewer likes and follows but with true engagement with your audience, than to indulge your ego with meaningless high scores?

There are lots of social media specialists out there, and some not so special specialists. I have found that @NickyKriel is one of the good ones to follow, as she shares great tips and interesting content. I enjoy and learn from her posts, and it was a tweet from Nicky that shared this flowchart from Breaking Copy*.

* Source: Daryl Lang, Breaking Copy, 2011