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The 80/20 rule: Why just 20% of your social media content should be about your brand

It’s been a challenge adapting marketing and outreach to the digital age. Where once consumers could be effectively targeted with a well-placed billboard, the online world of social media has required a new model of marketing. Even when it’s online, impersonal, billboard-type ads just don’t cut it anymore – people increasingly need to be reached in their more intimate online spaces to make an impression.

And that’s what the 80/20 rule is all about. Let’s start with the fact that you’ve established a community (easily the most important marketing concept today and we’ve written about it before). You’ve got a few interested consumers who’ve joined in and are starting to create their own organic content, asking questions and starting discussions. Now you want to drive organic community growth and start making a few sales. What kind of content should you be posting?

20% – Discussion-based promotion

Well, don’t count on making too many sales right away. These things take time and momentum is sometimes slow to come. But you do want to raise brand awareness at the very least and establish your products and relevance to community members who share your interests. After all, what is your community for is no one in it knows who you are and what you do? The end goal is still to make your business a success; the community is an effective tool that just makes it more fun.

So, back to your content. About 20% of what you share with the community should be directly related to your brand – a sort of promotion or advertisement. But even this is different from the old style of advertising. Everything you share with your community should be discussion-based, something that will be of genuine interest to your potential customers. A good call to action usually does the trick. Mention your brand and/or products, but do so within the framework of useful statistics that will start a conversation or a timely discount.

There’s a good chance that your community has grown because of interest in the topic rather than an interest in your brand directly. Your goal with this sort of content should be to reach new community members to make them aware of who you are, remind old members of what you do and why they might find it useful and to drive further engagement and discussion that could bring in new community members.

80% – Creating value through information

One of the most important resources in the business world of today is attention. You need to capture it and retain it. Banner ads for your product and even interesting posts that focus on your brand aren’t going to get that job done. That’s why 80% of what you post to your social media should be of real value for consumers and community members.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s never heard of you or your brand before. Even the best ad for your brand will probably be ignored because it’s just an ad like any other. But then you see an article, video, question or informative post about a topic that genuinely interests you and doesn’t mention a product or brand at all. It looks and feels genuine and organic – because it is.

That’s what this 80% is all about. Post content that’s useful to people and establishes yourself as an important figure in that field so that people will trust you, follow you and want to engage within your community. As long as your brand and products are somehow connected to that area of interest, the 20% of your content that refers to your business will then do the work of converting these newcomers into customers.

Attention may be hard to grab these days, but it’s definitely doable. To perform the 80/20 split effectively, make sure you are compartmentalizing and targeting a very specific community with very specific interests. Focus on providing value and grabbing the attention of one group of people before expanding to others. You can take these even further by breaking down your overall target audience into subcategories and asking yourself for every post: what sub-community within my larger community does this target?

The 80/20 rule is about meeting your customers where they are. If all they see is a brand trying to sell itself, get ready for the cold shoulder. This is what makes marketing and community management art forms, full of nuance and subtlety. Follow the 80/20 framework and success is on the horizon.

Emissary Guild is creating better communities for business. Want to learn more?