If you've ever asked yourself the question "How often should I post promotional content on social media?", you're not alone. After all, no business owner wants to be labelled with the dreaded "spammer" tag.
So how often is too often? The short answer is "not very often". But if you want something a little more definitive to hang your digital marketing strategy on, you may want to consider the 80/20 rule.
Following the 80/20 rule when posting content on social media can boost audience engagement and help you build a loyal following of brand advocates. But what exactly is the 80/20 rule, and how do you implement it in your social media marketing strategy?
The 80/20 rule
When applied to social media marketing, the 80/20 rule stipulates that 80% of the content you post on social media should be useful to your audience - meaning it educates, entertains or provides a solution to their problems - while the remaining 20% can consist of special offers, product launches, company news or any other form of self-promotion.
The 80/20 rule works particularly well for Facebook and Twitter, although on LinkedIn it's better to aim for 90/10. As visual platforms, Instagram and Pinterest don’t fall into the same category, although you should still focus on providing as much value as possible to your followers.
Examples of 'useful' social media content
So what constitutes "useful" social media content? Here's a few examples:
- How-to guides and tutorials;
- Quizzes and games;
- Aspirational images;
- Articles on trending topics;
- Product reviews;
- Use cases;
- White papers and reports;
- Infographics; and
- Funny memes and sharable content.
Examples of 'promotional' content
So now you know what you should be filling 80% of your social media feed with, what about the other 20%? Here you go:
- Special offers;
- Product launches;
- Company news; and
- Special events.
Why should I follow the 80/20 rule?
People don't go on social media to see advertisements. They access their accounts because they're looking to be entertained or inspired, they're looking for information or they're looking to make a connection. They're definitely not looking to be inundated with special offers.
By frequently posting useful and valuable content, you'll position yourself as an authority in your niche. This will help you earn the trust of your followers and build long-term relationships with your customers.
Giving your target audience what they want and building customer relationships are extremely important, but what about driving revenue? Well, the 80/20 rule can help with that too.
When you only post promotional content 20% of the time, your followers will be more likely to act on your message as it feels "special". Post about products, sales and deals too often, and your audience are likely to tune out.
As the content marketing guru Tom Fishburne once said: "The best marketing doesn't feel like marketing".
Do I have to follow the 80/20 rule for social media?
No. It's more of a guide than a rule and depends on your brand's voice, message, goals, overall digital marketing strategy and audience expectations.
Every social media page will have a different target audience, different demographics and a different marketing strategy. As a result, upholding the same standard ratio could be too restrictive for many businesses.
It is, however, still a good rule of thumb. Whether it's 80/20, 70/30 or 90/10, your main goal when posting on social media is to offer something of value to your followers - even when posting promotional content.