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What is the Social Media 80/20 Rule?

2nd March 2021

The social media 80/20 rule is widely acknowledged in the industry to be ‘the’ rule for page content on social media. The rule was developed by industry experts based on platform algorithms, user behaviour and intent and designed to ensure business pages gain as much visibility as possible on social media. 

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). Instagram and Pinterest as visual platforms 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. 

What is the 80/20 rule?

80% of your content on social media should be useful for your audience. This engaging and high qaulity content is perfect for your current/existing audiences (as they know what you offer) as well as showing to new/potential audiences that you can offer insight and help and aren’t too ‘sales pushy’. This content could be… 

  • General industry news/updates 
  • How-to guides, tutorials 
  • Lifestyle  
  • Fun and engaging content – like quizzes 
  • Funny content – e.g. memes 
  • Shareable content – ‘did you know’, industry events 
  • Bandwagon content – trending topics (e.g. From this, to this) 
  • National/local holidays/celebrations (e.g. National Love Your Pet Day) 

20% of your content on social media should be directly about your business and self-promotional. This is to update and remind existing audiences of latest products or offers, and to aid with introducing your brand to new/potential audiences. This content focuses around your business specifically, the self promotional content could be…

  • 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 business and decision makers, the 80/20 rule is often ignored in favour of purely being self-promotional – why waste time on general industry when you could be sell, sell, selling? Here’s why: users following you already know what you offer, they will see the self-promotional posts and will have likely already purchased from you. Those who don’t already follow you will see the continual sales push and may not want to follow you for that reason alone. Users follow brands because they offer more than just selling products, they offer useful, helpful and sometimes fun things that retain them as an audience member. 

By continually pushing your products/services and sell, sell, selling, it will putting them off returning to you and can appear ‘spammy’ and they will more than likely being hiding your posts and getting fatigued by the constant push. Platform algorithms can identify this and can reduce your visibility massively as a result.  

Platforms want to be authentic and to cater to what users want to see, which is not ‘hard selling’ all the time. 

Platform algorithms reward those businesses who have a comprehensive social media marketing strategy which focuses around the user (not the business). The reward is an increased visibility of your page and posts organically, which also means you’ll have more users see your 20% self-promotional posts. 

How to use the 80/20 rule

Start by stepping back and working on just 10 posts, of those 10, you want to have 2 as self-promotional, pick your priority products/services. The remaining 8 posts you want to vary up between any and all of the above ideas, you could have a post on industry news, share a blog post, share a YouTube how-to video, tips and tricks… make this content useful to audiences. 

Once you can apply the 80/20 think to 10 posts, you can adapt and take that with you to schedule your week or monthly schedule.

Does the 80/20 social media rule work?

Its widely acknowledged for a reason, yes, it does work. But if you’re not sure, try and and find out – give it a few months of content variation for you 80% and prioritise your self-promotional content and see what that means for reach, engagement and audience retention (as well as audience growth). 

Review your social media marketing and bring the 80/20 rule into your marketing technique (if you’re not doing so already). If you’d like to talk more about social media marketing, please feel free to contact us and learn more.

The 80/20 Social Media Rule


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