Latest > What is the 80/20 social media rule?

1st Aug 2023

6 min read

What is the 80/20 social media rule?

Figuring out which content you should be sharing on your social media channels can be challenging. While many businesses will opt for promotional posts over valuable ones, this can cause a loss of followers and a drop in engagement, and this is where many are going wrong on social media. So, how do you share the right content across your social platforms?

Our answer? It’s all about value. That’s where the 80/20 social media rule comes in.

What is the 80/20 rule?
The 80/20 social media rule was developed by industry experts and based on platform algorithms, user behaviour and intent. It is designed to ensure business pages gain as much visibility as possible, making it the perfect way to both grow your following across your social media platforms while also improving engagement.

This rule works particularly well for Facebook, Twitter and can be adapted for LinkedIn (where you might want to be more flexible on the ratio). As visual platforms, Instagram and Pinterest don’t quite fall into this rule in the same way, though it’s always worth considering this approach when marketing on these platforms, too.

80% of your content on social media should provide value and be useful for your audience. This engaging and high quality content is perfect for both your current audience as well as showing to new or potential customers that you’re an expert within your field. For example, this content could include:

  • General industry news/updates
  • How-to guides and tutorials
  • Lifestyle content
  • Fun and engaging content – like quizzes or polls
  • Funny content such as memes
  • Shareable content – ‘did you know’, industry events
  • Bandwagon content – trending topics and or themed posts doing the rounds on social media
  • National/local holidays/celebrations (e.g. National Love Your Pet Day)

20% of your content on social media should be self-promotional, and directly about your business or the products and services you offer. This is to update and remind existing audiences of your latest products or offers, and to aid with introducing your brand to new and potential audiences. This content should on your business specifically, and can include:

  • Promoting a service/product
  • Sharing company news (e.g. new hires)
  • Sharing product/service offers
  • Media coverage

Why should you use the 80/20 rule?
For many businesses and decision-makers, the 80/20 rule is often ignored in favour of purely creating self-promotional content. After all, why should you ‘waste’ time on general industry topics when you could be sell, sell, selling?

Here’s why: people don’t go on social media for advertisements. Sure, we’re all advertised to on various social platforms, but what people really want from social media in 2022 and beyond is to build authentic connections, be inspired, learn something new or simply be entertained. Users follow brands because they offer more than just selling their products and services. Instead, they offer useful, helpful and often entertaining content that helps to showcase their expertise and keeps audiences interested.

By continually pushing your products or services, you’ll likely appear ‘spammy’ and will put people off from following your profiles or returning to them – they may even unfollow your business or hide your posts if they’re getting especially tired of your constant pushing.

There is so much research, too, to highlight how social media platforms themselves are moving rapidly towards this value proposition:

Facebook’s algorithm prioritises content that is “meaningful and informative”
Facebook can figure out what sources your audience is interacting with and the type of content they like to engage with, while prioritising content with a lot of engagement, especially from those your audience interacts with the most.

The LinkedIn algorithm measures content in terms of relevancy
LinkedIn ranks content into three specific categories – ‘spam’, ‘low quality’ and ‘high quality’. To ensure your posts are being flagged as ‘high quality’ (meaning the platform is more likely to push it out to people) ensure your posts are easy to read, encourage responses, use strong keywords and aren’t tagging a huge range of people who aren’t likely to reply.

Instagram’s algorithm focuses on what people care about the most
Instagram recommends content that is meaningful, much like Facebook and prioritises content from accounts your audience interacts with, whether or not the particular audience is interested in the topic and type of content, and how relevant it is to their previous activity on the platform.

Twitter’s algorithm highlights content people want to see
Twitter’s algorithm is notoriously fickle, but it’s still all about personalisation. From who your audience follows and tweets they’ve previously liked to topics they’ve interacted with, Twitter’s customisable timelines and highlighted topics mean the platform is geared up to only show people tweets they actually care about.

It’s clear to see that each social media platform rewards content that is created for the user, not the business. This reward is increased visibility of your page and posts organically – which also means you’re 20% self-promotional posts will be seen more, too.

How to use the 80/20 rule
Start by stepping back and plotting out 10 posts. Of those 10 posts, you’ll want to create just 2 as self-promotional pieces of content. For this, choose your priority products or services. For the remaining 8 posts, you’ll want to vary the focus between any and all of the above ideas,, You could comment on trending industry news, share a blog post or film a how-to video – just make sure your content is truly useful to your target audience.

Once you can apply the 80/20 social media rule to 10 posts, you can adapt and take those learnings with you to schedule your weekly or monthly social media posts.

Does the 80/20 social media rule work?
To put it simply? Yes! Social media is changing, and personalisation is key. Audiences are now, more than ever before, likely to engage with content they truly connect with, so showcasing valuable and helpful content is key.

If you’re not sure, why not try it out for yourself? You’ll soon see that your audience grows, while your reach, impressions and engagements will likely increase, too.
Not sure where to begin? Get in touch with us now to talk more about your social media marketing, and how we can help you create the perfect content for your audience.

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Written by

Charlie Peters

A media jack-of-all-trades, Charlie is passionate about finding creative ways to bring clients’ visions to life, via social copy, videos and graphics. A skilled podcaster, he supports with the ideation, creation and sharing of our podcasts for clients and Eden.

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