What does 80/20 have to do with social media?

By Sue Voyles / August 17, 2020 / ,

In business, many of us have heard of the 80/20 rule (aka Pareto Principle) that says 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Or as sales and productivity guru Brian Tracy says: 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results.

When it comes to social media marketing, the 80/20 rule has a different meaning.

There may not be a perfect percentage of social media marketing – what I call sales pitching versus using your platform to inform, educate or even entertain an audience – but the 80/20 rule remains an idea worth considering.

Based on that guideline, 80% of your social media posts for business should focus on educating, informing, using third-party content and contributions, even having a bit of fun from time to time. That leaves 20% for your sales pitches, your company branding or outright promoting yourself and your company.

For me there is no greater turnoff than an endless stream of sales pitches from a social media connection, or someone who wants to connect with me. Working with the experts on these various platforms will provide a better picture of what needs to be done, but think about it for a moment. Social media is really about sharing, linking or connecting, common experiences, information, ideas and content. If your social media approach is one long sales pitch after another, the connection is nothing more than a glorified commercial or advertisement.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in marketing and advertising, but I have learned over the years that content is king. There are so many competing interests for our time that providing something of value, a reason to pause and read or click, to perhaps even think about how something applies to me or my company, is of greater value than anyone telling me their company can do this or that and why I should hire them, select them, give them a modicum of my valuable loyalty.

There are some experts who are growing skeptical of social media guidelines, and I get that as well, given the fact that social media feels like a moving target. Overall, though, I counsel all of our clients to stay informed, to try new approaches and not to look at social media platforms as just another advertisement venue.

Yes, it can be daunting creating content, scheduling posts and tracking engagement, but being focused on standards that have worked will almost certainly help.

In the end, wouldn’t it be better if we shared ideas, data, the latest theories and information on the state of our industries or world? Or would you rather be in a crowded marketplace being chased constantly by another long line of salespeople? I prefer the former, 80% of the time, at least.