At this point, we all know that social media can be a great marketing tool and many stores are active on Facebook, Twitter or both. Once you’ve signed up for a social media account and placed the Follow Us on Facebook link prominently on your Web site, you’ll inevitably ask yourself the question, “What do I post?”

Without the right strategy to connect your social media efforts to your overall marketing plan, figuring out what to post can become a daily burden that takes up too much time and leaves you wondering whether or not this whole Facebook thing is really worth it. As a business owner, being “really worth it” ultimately means increasing sales. So, what does a good social media posting strategy look like? Before we discuss what works, let’s take a quick look at a couple of tactics to avoid.

The Pushy Sales Approach

We’ve all seen this tactic in action. A brand uses its Facebook wall to endlessly promote one product after another. There’s no attempt to engage customers, encourage interaction or build community. In brick and mortar terms, this tactic is the equivalent of a new customer walking through your door and one of your employees yelling, “We have vitamin D on sale. Buy it!” It just doesn’t work.

A quick look at the lack of comments or likes on the brand’s page proves that customers don’t engage with blatant sales pitches. Social media is oftentimes the first interaction a customer has with your brand. Building a good rapport with followers is key.

The Endless Smalltalk Approach

On the other end of the spectrum, we have brand pages filled with funny postcards, cute kittens and other content that encourages engagement, but has nothing to do with the brand’s business. These businesses forget that the reason to engage in social media is to grow sales. A page that fails to move fans along the path to becoming a paying customer ends up being a time waster for the business.

The Right Content Recipe

So, no product information and no kitten photos? Well, not exactly. There’s room for both on occasion. The right content mix looks something like this:

  • ½ of your content: interesting, on-topic posts shared by you
  • ¼ of your content: posts and comments shared by followers
  • ¼ of your content: product related posts

The goal of this plan is to build a community of fans who find the information you post to be helpful and interesting. Engaged social media fans are your best customer prospects. Consider your followers and the topics that both interest them and have a connection to the products in your store. Thinking in these terms gives you a wide range of content, from healthy recipes and exercise tips, to methods for relieving stress. All of these topics can engage your fans while connecting to your business. As you build your social community, take the next step to convert fans into customers by inviting them to join your newsletter for special recipes and offers, or invite them into the store for a special event.

One Last Tip

Natural ingredients and all things local are two trending topics that garner a lot of social media attention, and your store is likely the epitome of both. Leverage this position by rallying your fans and asking them to proudly show their support of your local, natural products-focused business. WF

Todd Pauli is a partner with The Shelton Group, a strategic communications agency focused on the Natural Products Industry since 1980. He works with clients to develop comprehensive marketing strategies that integrate social media, advertising, and content marketing. Prior to joining The Shelton Group, Todd led Marketing Communications efforts for several well-known businesses, including NOW Foods, one of the largest supplement manufacturers in the natural channel. Todd has fifteen years of experience in helping brands develop digitally focused marketing strategies. Todd can be reached at or at (269)290-8012.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, May 2014