The 30% Rule for Brands on Social Media

The 30% Rule for Brands on Social Media

If you pay close attention to what works on social media, you’ll find that people engage with what is personally important to them. Social media is personal. And, while social media provides a platform for e-commerce to thrive, the social media activity of a company can’t be all business all the time, or engagement drops.

That’s not to say brands can’t succeed and make enormous amounts of money with the use of social media, but in order to do that, they need to understand the priorities of the environment. Often brand priorities differ from user priorities and the result is lackluster social media campaigns, declining engagement, and poor content performance.

In order for a brand to be successful on social, at least 30% of their content needs to closely align with user priorities. They need to follow the 30% Rule.

So, what are the priorities of users? Why do people join social media? 

While every person’s reasons may be unique, there are commonalities across the market. Most people join to stay connected to friends and family or reconnect with friends after they’ve lost touch. The motivation to join often hinges on the ability to share photos, videos, ideas, and content with personal networks.

Social media can also be used as a place to find others with similar interests, it’s a place to make new, like-minded friends and connections. One reason social media exploded in popularity was that it allowed niche groups to form around the globe, connecting people with even the most rare of interests. Both professionally and personally, it allowed for quick connection and the sharing of ideas.

Research shows another big reason to use social media is to stay updated on current events. People often consider social media to be a hub of local, national, and global news, a place to stay informed about what's happening in the world, emerging trends, and new ideas. Because social media allows individuals to see a collection of news articles and stories from a variety of sources, it’s become a place where users can keep a pulse on the world from different perspectives.

These may seem obvious, but brands often enter the social media arena with one big goal, sales. Simply put, users don't have that goal. Users don’t mind seeing cool, interesting products and shopping on social media, but it’s not the driving force behind their time spent on the platform. People don’t join a social media network to interact with companies. The initial motivation to join a new platform is almost always for recreation. These platforms attract millions of users through entertainment and connection, not by promising to connect them to ads.

You can (and should) sell your work, but if your social media content is strictly promotional, you will probably experience a steady decline in results. A stream of sales pitches on social media doesn’t fit with the desired user experience. So, in order to be successful, the strategy needs to more accurately reflect what users came for. Brands need to start incorporating more personal and entertainment-based content into their feeds.

Following the 30% Rule, this entertainment and connection-based content should account for 30% of your post activity (at a minimum).

This can be as simple as sharing candid pictures of your team, your break room holiday decorations, or an office celebration. Informal, non-sales content can be anything that helps you relate to your customers on a more personal level. Sharing a picture of your morning coffee might seem ridiculous, but people will engage with it because it’s why they come to social media platforms in the first place, to connect with people and see what they’re up to. 

Marketing professionals often get stuck when they overcomplicate the algorithm. It’s much simpler than it seems. People get on social media when they’re bored and want to connect and be entertained. And, seeing what other people are doing, as boring as that may seem, is actually entertaining. The success of social media in our culture is proof of that.

Don’t believe it? The category of unboxing videos ranks as one of the most popular (and most lucrative) video categories on YouTube. These are videos of people opening boxes of toys and other products. On the surface, it seems excruciatingly boring, but people love it. Kids (even with their notoriously short attention spans) love these videos and will spend hours watching.

So, if you see a rainbow outside your office window, post it. If your team member brings in donuts for breakfast, post it. If something funny happens, talk about it. 

Relationship-building is what social media is for. And, relationships are built on small, imperfect, seemingly-unimportant moments. So, brands need to incorporate that kind of content into their strategy, at least 30% of it. Trust, credibility, and connection are built in human moments, and that’s what social media was designed for, so make it a non-negotiable part of your communication plan. People want to know who they're doing business with, and social media is the perfect place to show them.

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