The 4 Crucial Pillars of Social Media

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The 4 Crucial Pillars of Social Media

4 Pillars of Social Media

  • Pillar #1: Growth
  • Pillar #2: Posting
  • Pillar #3: Engagement
  • Pillar #4: Reporting

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 3/8/16 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehension.

Let’s face it – you know your business should be on social media.

Your friends tell you. Your colleagues tell you. Josh Coffy tells you. Even your 72-year-old grandma tells you.

But with so many networks and so little time, where should you focus your efforts? How do you grow a targeted following? How do you generate leads for your sales team? What should you post and when should you do it?

That’s what we’re going to cover today.

Social media can be used for generating massive amounts of revenue for your business or it can be a massive waste of time.

When I first started Flight Media, I didn’t know what route to take, so I took them all. Doing so left me burnt out, brought minimal results and frustrated the crap out of me. I heard I should “be everywhere,” but everywhere wasn’t cutting it.

The “4 Pillars,” as I like to call them, can be applied to any social network.

How they’re managed will look a bit different, but the underlying principles still apply.

Follow them for a month and your current social media results will double. Follow them for a year and you’ll grow your business more than you can imagine.

I can boldly say that because I’ve done it, I’ve helped colleagues do it, Flight Media’s clients do it, and I’ve seen people just like you do it, too.

The determining variable is you. The effort you put forth to applying these pillars to your current social media game plan. (This graphic will give you a quick overview of the 4 pillars.)

4 Social media Pillars


Ready to change your business? I thought so. Let’s dive head first.

Pick One Road

One of the biggest misconceptions about social media is that you should “be everywhere.”

I’m calling shenanigans.

When you’re everywhere, you:

  • Spread yourself thin.
  • Get burnt out.
  • Don’t see massive results.
  • End up thinking social media doesn’t work.

Think about it.

If you’re like me, then you probably have many ambitions in life. And trying to master them all at once is like trying to shoot a bullseye with a blindfold on – it doesn’t work. (Although we often think it will!)

Instead, you need to focus.

Focus on a single social media platform that is the most viable for your industry.

Ask yourself, "Where are my customers hanging out?"

If you’re a fitness brand, Instagram is a viable option.

If you’re an individual brand, Twitter is a viable option.

If you’re a salesperson, Linkedin is a viable option.

If you’re a clothing boutique, Pinterest or Instagram are viable options.

You get the point.

Find out the platform that best suits your business and get ready to absolutely dominate it – no mediocrity allowed.

Once you have it, it’s time to begin following these four, very powerful pillars.

Side-Note: These pillars are not going to focus on a single social network. They’re merely principles that will apply to each network, although the terminology will differ.

(For example: a post on Twitter is called a ‘Tweet’ and a post on Linkedin is called a ‘Status Update.’ For common reference, I call them ‘posts.’)

Pillar #1: Growth

Est. time to complete: 3 Hours/Month

Growth is intentional and targeted.

In order to make social media even worth your time, you need to begin with the goal of accumulating a targeted following. If you don’t, then you’ll be sending post after post to the same people.

Would you rather send a tweet to 10 people or 10,000 people? The latter, of course.When I teach social media, I tell people to think of social media as a party.


A party of 1 billion people. You don’t have time to meet everyone, so you want to be as targeted and intentional as you can with the people you do want to meet.

So, how do you grow a targeted following with intention?

By shaking some digital hands. By being the first person to initiate the conversation with someone you believe might be interested in what your brand has to offer.

This usually happens in the form of:

  • Following them
  • @mentioning them
  • Sharing their post
  • Direct Messaging them
  • Responding to one of their posts

As with anything in life, though, quality matters. So it’s important to talk to the right people – not just anybody.

The best way to engage with the right people is by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Who is my ideal audience following? (Usually Competitors/Industry Leaders)
  • What is my ideal audience hashtagging?
  • Where is my ideal audience located?

If you can answer those three questions, you’ll be able to find the right people on your chosen social media network to engage with.

Example #1: If I was a car salesman, I’d hop on Twitter and begin following and engaging with people in my area that are hashtagging #carshopping or are following any of the 10 local car dealerships.

Example #2: If I owned a digital marketing agency (I do!), I’d hop on Instagram and engage with people who follow a few top marketing blogs. Do it enough and people will begin to reciprocate. (i.e. Follow & engage with you.)

Reply to 10 posts and 3-4 will engage back.

Follow 10 people and 3-4 will follow back.

While you’ll hear plenty of people tell you to “attract your audience, not follow it,” I’m going to recommend you approach social media with intention.

(I like to refer to these people as “I-already-have-an-audience-people.” It’s easy to say things like that, when you already have an audience.)

If you don’t have an audience, the chances of sitting still and acquiring a strong following is about as likely as winning a scratch-off lottery ticket.

Not very likely, but there’s still a chance.

So You're Saying There's a Chance

Pillar #2: Posting

Est. time to complete: 3-4 Hours/Month

Once you’ve started growing your following, it’s time to begin posting the right things, at the right time, in the right frequency.

In other words…

What do I post?

When do I post?

How often do I post?

Let’s address them one at a time.

WHAT to Post on Social Media

After 3 years of studying and managing hundreds of social media accounts, we’ve learned that social media comes down to 5 effective types of content.

  1. Internal Content - Stuff You Create
  2. External Content - Stuff You Find
  3. Inspirational Content - Stuff That Moves You
  4. Promotional Content - Stuff That Acquires Leads/Customers
  5. Behind-The-Scenes (BTS) Content - Stuff That Showcases Your Culture

Recommended: To get an in-depth view of examples, click here to read our 20,000-post study on the first 4 types of content. By alternating these five types of content, you’ll provide value to your audience, inspire sharing, generate leads/customers, and show your audience the raw, authentic version of you.

WHEN to Post on Social Media

This is a tricky one. Every network varies and no two audiences are alike.

So… How do we find the best time to post?

Through any of these three methods:

  • Assumption. Post when you think your audience is mostly online and hope for the best.
  • Guess & Check. Pick a few times to post during the day and keep them for a month. At the end of the month, review your post analytics and write down the engagement percentages. Rinse and repeat.
  • Use Tools. Utilize analytic tools like Tweriod (for Twitter), Facebook Insights, or Twitter Analytics to see the peak hours your audience is online. These are precise and take the least amount of time.

Facebook Insights for Best Time to Post

We’ve learned that it takes a bit of all 3 to effectively find the peak times for your audience.

Start with tools to find a base, then select a few additional times for assumptions and guess & check till you find the prime times.

For Flight Media, we’ve learned that early morning (6am-7am) and early afternoon (12pm-3pm) spark the most engagement with our audience.


HOW OFTEN to Post on Social Media

Like restaurants, social networks have etiquette. For some, it’s acceptable to post in high frequencies. For others, anything above two posts per day is overkill.

Luckily, Buffer, a social media management app has the numbers for us.

When to post on social media

Unfortunately, this beautiful graphic didn’t include Linkedin or Instagram.

In this article, however, they go on to say that you should be posting 1X per day for Linkedin and 1.5X per day for Instagram.

Side-Note: Our studies have also shown similar numbers, although we recommend 4-12 tweets/day on Twitter. :)

Pillar #3: Engagement

Est. time to complete: 3 Hours/Month

When I think of the first 3 Pillars of Social Media, I think of marriage. (Hang with me for a second!)

Pillar #1 (Growth) is where you mature as an individual.

Pillar #2 (Posting) is where you outwardly show affection and romanticize.

Pillar #3 (Engagement) is where you seal the deal by getting engaged, and then married. Just like in marriage, social media is a two-way street of communication.

Engagement Everywhere

By posting the right thing at the right time in the right frequency, your audience will begin engaging with your posts.

That’s when it’s vital to complete the connection by engaging back.

When you do, not only does it build a stronger relationship with your audience, but it encourages them to continue sharing your content.

There are 4 primary ways to engage, that we’ve found the most effective:

  1. Thanking people who share your posts
  2. Sharing others’ posts
  3. Responding to comments
  4. Replying to direct messages

Stick to these forms of engagement on a consistent basis (at least 3 days/week) and you’ll build a following that shares your content -- compounding your lead generation and brand awareness efforts dramatically.

Pro-Tip: Use a software like Hootsuite, Social Draft, or Sprout Social to pull all engagements from your different social networks into a single location for response.


Pillar #4: Reporting

Est. time to complete: 30 Minutes/Month

When it comes to social media, if you don’t adapt, you die. (Tweet This)

Social media is an ever-changing industry that will either grow your business or leave you in the dust.

So how do you avoid being left in the dust?

You analyze and adapt.

Each month, review the analytics of all your social media campaigns. Either with a social media management software (i.e. Social Draft) or through each platform’s native analytics.

Here are a few places to get you started:

Social-Media-Analytics-Example Sprout Social Report Example

When reviewing the analytics of the previous month, a few things to study include:

  • Follower growth - ensures your targeting is working and growth is happening
  • Post engagement - ensures posts are shareable and relevant
  • Audience demographics (genders, ages, location) - ensures your targeted growth is on par

Post Engagement Report Example

There are a million different metrics out there.

If you’re a marketing nerd, like us, then you may add a few metrics to the monthly reporting for analysis.

But the prime metrics to review are the three listed above.

  • If growth is down one month, review & change the ‘leaders’ and hashtags you’re targeting.
  • If a particular post had high engagement, recycle it and use it again this month.
  • If you notice a shift in your audience’ demographics, revisit your targeted leaders and hashtags.

Final Thoughts:

Successfully managing a social media platform is a matter of following the 4 Pillars on a regular basis.

The good news is you are able to harness the power social media has to change your business.

The bad news is that it will require much commitment and focus.

Like many things in life, the outcome is primarily determined by you. By your ability to take action on each of the 4 Pillars. By your ability to grow, post, engage, report, and repeat.

It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it doesn’t take zero time.

As you can see, on average, you’re looking at about 10 hours per month to fully manage and maintain a single network.

But they’ll be the best 10 hours per month you ever spend -- I promise.

What social media wisdom have you gained that you would add?

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Josh Coffy

Josh has an exhaustive understanding of technology and a creative marketing approach that drives client results. In his free time, Josh does CrossFit and travels with his wife.