Success on social media is not mathematical. It’s biological.

I like to start many of my presentations by asking the audience for their reaction to this statement: Social media is more biological than mathematical.

They immediately make the connection. “When you’re posting and interacting on social media, you are interacting with people,” they answer.

You may have read a dozen “How To” articles about cracking the algorithms — which sound very mathematical — of any social media platform, but at the end of the day, you’re communicating with people.

And as people, social media users are prone to one very natural, very biological tendency:

They forget things. They forget people.

Memories have a biological half life. If someone sees you or sees something you post, there might be a 50 percent chance that they’ll think about you during the next week. The second week? Maybe a 25 percent chance. The likelihood of your connections thinking about you drops dramatically from the point when you last communicated with them, unless you give them a new reason to think about you.

At any given moment, you can be sure of one thing: Either your prospective clients are thinking about you or they’re not thinking about you.

Well, duh. But think about it. If they’re not thinking about you, there’s a 0 percent chance that they’re going to call you when they face a problem.

Social media is a great way to make your clients think about you.

Before social media, this was a lot harder.

I used to work in sales for a Fortune 500 company before social media had taken off. I lived in Madison, but my first sales territory was Indiana. Eventually I graduated to Chicago, and finally I got home to Wisconsin. I kept the same phone number with each jump. I had made a habit of calling my clients regularly, and through my time in each territory I developed many working relationships.

But each time I moved on to the next territory, I rarely – if ever – heard from those connections again. My contact info was the same, but since I wasn’t calling them, they forgot about me. Since we didn’t have social media, the only way for me to contact them would be to use work time that was reserved for my current territory, or to use my personal time that was reserved for my family and personal friends. Had social media existed back then, it would have been a lot easier to maintain those business relationships.

Social media offers you the chance to become famous. All you have to do is be consistent.

When I was a kid, if you had asked me to name five famous people, I probably would have listed a few actors, a few major league baseball players (like Robin Yount), and the president of the United States. And a lot of people my age would have named the same celebrities. At the time, the number of people who could become famous was finite. Either you were an actor, a professional athlete, or you were a politician.

But now, we have micro-celebrities. Ask a hundred 12-year-olds who their fave YouTuber is, and you’ll get a hundred answers.

Because of social media, you don’t have to become famous in the traditional sense — CEO of a Fortune 500 company, NBA player, movie star — before you start impacting people that you’ve never met. Social media gives you a path to earn fame by producing great content, consistently.

Everyone thinks, “Why me?” My answer: “Why not you?”

Have you heard of the 1 percent rule of the internet? Here it is. Internet users are divided into three categories. You’re going to recognize yourself in one of them.

90 percent of users are only observers and consumers. They read, watch, listen, laugh, cry, or rage, but they don’t engage.

9 percent of users engage. They like, comment, and share.

1 percent of users create.

Which category do you fall in?

Let’s talk about that 10 (9 + 1) percent.

If you put something out on the internet, and you track the engagement metrics because you’re obsessed with knowing the ROI of your effort, you can only ever track 10 percent of your potential impact!

If you know there are people out there watching, even though they’re not engaging, it’s incumbent on you to keep serving them, knowing that they’re watching.

The first excuse I hear as to why someone is not on social media is that no one is listening. What’s the point? What’s the ROI?

But think about your own behavior. How many posts, conversations, videos and tweets do you read without engaging at all?

People are listening, and simply by creating content, you have the opportunity to distinguish yourself as part of the 1 percent.

The key to hacking the biological platform of social media is consistency.

It’s better to provide snippets of value every few days than to let months go by between posts. It goes back to that biological half life. Think about binge watching a show on Netflix. When Netflix releases a whole season of Orange is the New Black at once, everyone talks about it for a week. They’re obsessed with the complex story lines and characters. But three months later, while waiting for the next season to be produced, nobody is thinking about Piper.

All it takes for you to stay at the top of your connections’ mind on social media is to post valuable content consistently. There’s no mathematical formula. It’s just human nature.

Spencer X Smith

Spencer helps you save time through teaching digital marketing and social media strategies in plain English, after proving they actually work for himself first. He also is an instructor at the University of Wisconsin and a columnist for InBusiness.

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