When It Comes to Content, the 80:20 Rule Isn’t Strategic Enough. Do This Instead…

If you’ve been using social media to promote your business, you’ve probably heard about the 80:20 rule.

The 80:20 rule is a guideline for content that suggests 80% of your content should be free, value-packed content that is not affiliated with selling your services or promoting your business; and the remaining 20% is what you share to promote your business and sell your services.

While I stand by the value of giving juicy content for free, I find this guideline a little misleading.  Especially given how much social media has changed over the years.  

Before we dive in, let’s take a look at some examples of ways you might share content under this guideline:
Free, value-packed content that does not sell or promote your business (80%):

  • An awesome article written by an outside party. 
  • Inspiring or educational re-posts from your community. 
  • Resources or tools you recommend. 
  • Inspiring messages. 
  • Some of your blogs. 

Posts affiliated with your business that sell your services (20%): 

  • Free challenges that lead your audience into sales funnels. 
  • Success stories or testimonials. 
  • Your other blogs. 
  • Direct sales posts, of course. 

The idea behind breaking things up in this way is that you don’t exhaust your audience. 

If all you do is sell, promote, sell, promote… you’ll turn people off and your conversion rate will suffer. Plus, you can’t sell to an audience that doesn’t trust you. By offering value-packed info, no strings attached, you build trust.  

So, what’s the prob, Coach? 

The problem is, things have changed, and the 80:20 rule is far too vague and not strategic enough for those growing their business with social media. Sure, you will build trust with the 80-20 rule, and people will clearly see the value in following you… but will they clearly see the value in buying from you? 

So here’s how I suggest you break things up instead so that you’re hyper-specific with what you’re posting and why you’re posting it. 

For consistency, we’ll call this the 30:50:20 rule. 😉 

30% of your content: 

Go ahead and continue sharing outside articles and resources 30% of the time. 

But I wouldn’t say this 30% is most important because it’s about building trust.  (Though it does play a big part in that, of course). This 30% builds relationships with your network! So be specific about who you’re following and what you’re reposting. 

By making a point to engage and repost content by the community that sells to your same target audience, you pave the way for future guest blogs, social media swaps, joint giveaways, and other awesome social media partnerships. 

You’ll also always have a network of “social partners” who will be willing to share your stuff with their tribe, because you do the same for them.  This will grow your reach, then your following, then your sales. 

If you want a step by step for exactly how to build these relationships, click here. 

50 % of your content: 

50% of your content needs to be about giving your dream clients a taste of working with you, without even hinting at the thought of actually working with you. 

So how the *beep* do you do that? 

  • Write a blog once a week with free tips that your audience craves.  
  • Create free downloadable content such as worksheets, step by step guides, infographics, etc.
    [hint: it’s best that some of this content is downloadable and in exchange for an email address so you can *own* your list and create super targeted FB ads. More on that another time.] 
  • Write Instagram posts that offer tips, inspiration, or support instead of just another pretty picture. [But for the record, pretty pictures do matter on Instagram…] 
  • Host free challenges. 
  • Host Q+As on Facebook/Instagram Live. 
  • Take daily opportunities to give people an inside look into how to do something on your story. 

Here’s the takeaway: It’s still value… but it’s YOUR value. That way, you’re not just building trust, you’re demonstrating a reason for people to invest money in you. 

20% Sales / Promotion: 

Last but not least — you gotta sell. 

So here is where your sales plugs and your success stories or testimonials come in. This would also be where your webinars that funnel people into sales funnels happen, any live Q+As for people on the fence about a program, or free consultations for those who are considering hiring you. 

Now, a common concern with the 30:50:20 rule is that it becomes a ME-ME-ME show whereas the 80:20 rule suggests that the bulk of that 80% is about the community around you.

Here’s my take on that: If you’re just pointing people towards awesome content outside of your business — what the heck is the point of using social media for your business? 

You don’t need to give people a reason to follow you, you need to give people a reason to BUY from you. And I agree that’s a process — so sharing value for free is important — but you’ve gotta be specific about what that value looks like and how you’re getting it in front of as many eyes as possible. 

So, by using the 30:50:20 rule you’re thinking about…

1. Your reach (by expanding your network.) 
2. What type of value you share so that you build trust AND demonstrate the experience of working with you.
3. Opportunities to grow your email list so you can help a more targeted audience via Facebook ads and email marketing. 
4. When to sell! 

In a nut-shell, you’ll have a more balanced and strategic social media presence that can set you up for a better conversion rate, too. 

Feeling stuck around this? Here’s a series of questions (with examples) to help you figure out how best to offer content that fits within the 30:50:20 ratio.