close up of a cell phone with Dogwood Media Solutions Instagram Profile on the screen

The 80/20 rule is something that we harp on a lot here at Dogwood. No, not the Pareto Principle, the social media 80/20 rule! The idea is pretty simple, of all your social media content, 80% of it should give value to your client and only 20% should ask for something from them. That might sound counterintuitive at first glance, but trust us, it works! Let’s look at how this might work in practice.

Why the 80/20 Rule?

On average, any given post reaches between 2 and 7 percent of your audience organically. That means that if you have 1000 followers, only 20 to 70 of them will see it. That is disheartening, to say the least. The 80/20 rule can help with that.

One of the best ways to up your organic reach is to create audience retention. Audience retention is your ability to maintain your followers and keep them active in your community. This looks different for each person and organization, but the key here is consistency and value. To maintain an active audience they need to a) find value in the things you’re sharing and b) know when to expect that content.

For example, one of my favorite creators on Instagram, Phylicia Masonheimer, has a weekly schedule of what she shares as the bulk of her content. Monday is ask anything Mondays, Wednesday she posts a new podcast, and Thursday is a day in the life. I love her content and know exactly when to expect it and where to find it. I’m not waiting for the algorithm to see fit to show me her content, I’m seeking it out myself, and I’m not alone. Phy has 110k followers on Instagram alone with thousands of them coming back each week to see what she has to share.

How did she create such incredible audience retention? Whether she and her team realize it or not, it’s by using the 80/20 rule. Very rarely do they ask for something from their audience. As a matter of fact, it’s usually only once a quarter when their big shop opens up (which pays for the majority of their ministry expenses). Since they’ve added so much value to their audience without asking for anything in return, when the shop does open up, people flock to it!

While this might be a slightly extreme example and not every organization is able to follow this exact model, the point still stands. The 80/20 rule works! Give more than you take and you’ll receive more than you asked for!

What Counts as “Valuable”

So you might be wondering, what counts as content that adds value? I’m glad you asked! Valuable content does not have to be earth-shattering to be important. Sometimes a well-timed gif adds just as much if not more value than a 1200-word article on the importance of community involvement. Value is sometimes just commiserating with people over shared interests and concerns. Don’t overthink it! If it’s important to you, then it’s probably important to someone else. Your valuable content will depend largely on what your organization does and what platforms you’re using, but here are a few examples and ideas that you should consider.

  • Ask Me Anything FB/Instagram Stories
  • Stories/Posts/Blogs sharing your favorite product and how to use it
  • Social Media Take Over to show behind the scenes
  • Relevant Polls to gather people’s opinions
  • Industry News or New Developments
  • Celebrating something happening in your community
  • “Get to know you” posts about employees
  • Customer Highlights

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to valuable content. This side of content creation should be fun and create community. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about people, it’s that we crave connection. So find those unique ways for your organization to connect with your audience and begin adding value to their time on social media!

The Other 20%

The other 20% of your content should be promotionally driven, but even this doesn’t have to be boring. There are a ton of ways to promote your business that aren’t just your basic advertising copy. You can share about products and services that you offer. You can tell the story of your business and how it came to be. You can even tell your clients the heart behind why you do what you do. All of these things promote your business without being all salesy. Here are a few more fun ways to promote business:

  • Share positive reviews and testimonials
  • Promote a special coupon for social media followers
  • Share beautiful images of your products
  • Share photos of what your organization is doing in the community
  • Do a competitor comparison
  • Demo a product or service

There will always be a place for some good ole fashioned ad copy promoting who you are and why someone should do business with you. However, most people respond better to a show don’t tell method. If you can show me that your product or service will benefit my life or the lives of others then you’ve got me! The other 20% doesn’t have to be boring. Get creative and use that 20% to its fullest potential.

Creating a Plan

Now that you have a better idea of what the 80/20 rule is, how do you make sure you’re following it? Like most things in the digital media world, creating a plan is the best course of action. For our clients, we create a monthly schedule for them where we try our best to follow this rule. By making a plan ahead of time you can lay your posts out in a monthly format and be able to easily tell if you’re leaning too heavily one way or the other.

Creating a plan like this doesn’t require anything fancy, just a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. I typically like to look at things written out on a calendar because it gives me a better idea of what the month will look like as opposed to just writing dates next to a caption or description. So, print out a blank calendar of the month and write out a brief description of the post on the day you plan to post it. You might even want to color code it for ease of recognition.

Once you’ve gotten your initial ideas onto paper, you can easily look as tell if you’re sticking to the 80/20 rule. It also lets you know if you’re posting too many similar things back to back. Remember, you want your content to be varied, consistent, and balanced.

If you give the 80/20 rule a try, let us know if you see a difference! We’d love to hear your stories and share content ideas. On the other hand, if all of this feels a little too overwhelming, that’s okay, we can help!  Give us a call or shoot us an email and we’d love to discuss what we can do to partner with you.

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