There are countless experts out there who promise businesses the key to social media success with golden rules and ratios. Some folk stand by the Pareto-like 80-20 rule that says 80% of posts should be useful, meaningful information from other sources and 20% self-promotion. Still, others live by the 30-60-10 Golden Ratio that says 30% should be owned information, 60% meaningful information from other sources, and 10% self-promoting calls to action.
Those are two of the most popular social media ratios, but there are plenty of others out there: 5-3-2, 5-5-5, 4-1-1, the Rule of Thirds. So, which rule is right?
The short answer is that there is no single rule or ratio that is the be-all and end-all for how a business should go about social media. It would be great if you could follow a simple structure, sit back, and watch your followers and conversions skyrocket to all-time highs, but you can’t. Those ratios are good guidelines, but they have to be tweaked to fit each individual business. What works for one company might not work for another company.
Let’s say that a climbing gym is putting together a social media strategy, and they decide to go with the Golden Rule of 30-60-10. That climbing gym has a lot of potential for owned content, whether it’s pictures from climbing trips, new climbing routes in the gym, or just patrons climbing. Climbing gyms are communities, so this content would be as well received as useful information. That climbing gym might have success reallocating to 40-50-10.
On the other hand, a factory that makes printer toner probably won’t have as much owned content as a climbing gym. We assume they’re blogging regularly, but they may have fewer exciting photos or videos of their product in use. This toner factory tried the Golden Rule, but didn’t have success with their social media. They might decide to increase the percentage of useful curated information to something like 25-65-10, after which they see improved numbers in social media.
Social media isn’t an exact science. While that climbing gym might show good numbers with a 40-50-10 ratio one month, they might not have the same success the next month. The key is to view the data, to look at the numbers and adjust your social media strategy as necessary. That’s not to say you’re going to dramatically overhaul your entire approach on a month to month basis, but you should make a tweak here and a tweak there to respond to the data you’re receiving.
The one thing that all of the ratios have in common is that self-promotion should be minimal. People don’t like commercials, and they don’t want to feel like your social media channel is a nonstop advertisement. You can make exceptions if you’re running a special, but as a rule, self-promotion should be a small percentage of your social media engagement.
Again, how self-promotion is viewed, and even what is viewed as being self-promotion can vary from business to business. You want to test the waters and see how people respond to self-promoting posts, but you don’t want to overdo it.
Social media can’t be a formula. What works for some won’t work for all. The best approach for establishing a social media strategy for your business is to pay attention and respond to data.