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The 80/20 Rule of Social Media Marketing

80-20 social media rule

In 1896, Vilfredo Pareto discovered that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Seeing something there, he observed this phenomena on other areas of life, such as noticing that 80% of his garden peas came from 20% of the pea pods. This is known as Pareto principle, or what we say in modern-day English, the 80/20 rule.

In daily application, we often find that 80% of our work only produces 20% of the results, while 20% of our efforts produce 80% of the results. The goal is to adjust how your time is spent so you’re investing in the 20% that produces 80% and trim the 80% that isn’t producing as much.

For the most part, the 80/20 rule occurs naturally, and we want to try to manipulate it to be more favorable for our success. But sometimes this is a rule that we actually want to put into effect to achieve the success we want. Social media marketing is just such a sometime.

Self Promotion vs Engagement

When it comes to using social media to promote your company and engage with your audience, you absolutely must adhere to a strict 80/20 rule. In fact, only 20% of your social posting should be self-promotional in nature. The remaining 80% should be spent promoting other content and/or engaging with your community.

Social media is where you build your brand, but brand building isn’t self-promotion. That’s old-school advertising think. In the age of social media, brand building happens when you engage with your audience.

The old way of thinking says to push out information you think your audience wants. But today you’re better off using social media to actually listen to your audience and let them tell you what they actually want.

Listening is where you start on social media, but then you have to take it to the next step and engage. Engaging with your audience opens all kinds of doors and opportunities.

  • By engaging, you learn more about your audience, their needs and how your company can do a better job meeting those needs.
  • With engagement, you can learn what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong.
  • Engagement allows you to hear specific pain points your audience has that you may be able to address with new products or services.
  • And you can use engagement to provide solutions to potentially disgruntled customers.

Once you have proven your willingness to listen–and engage–with your audience, they will be more willing to listen to what you have to say about yourself. You can promote your content until you’re blue in the face, but without an audience that you’ve already engaged with, that content is more than likely to fall on deaf ears.

As a broadcasting platform, social media is great. There is no better way to get your content in front of your target audience. However, social media is far superior when used for engagement and learning first.

Build your social media strategy around the 80/20 rule. 80% engagement, 20% promotion. The better job you do with your engagement, the more powerful social media becomes as an amplification platform — not just for your content, but for your brand and entire web marketing strategy.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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