In April 2012, I wrote a blog article entitled, "How To Optimize Your Small Business Social Media Marketing Process With The 10:4:1 Rule." The article was an endorsement of a formula for social media posting created by Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey Cohen in their book, The B2B Social Media Book. Here's an excerpt from the article that summarizes the rule:
"The 10-4-1 Rule is a ratio that serves as a guideline for the right balance of content to publish in social media. For every 15 of your social media updates, 10 should be pieces of other people's content, 4 should be your own blog articles, and 1 should be a landing page."
The thought behind the rule is that your social media posting shouldn't be a series of blatant sales pitches. If you do the math, you'll find that the 10:4:1 rule dictates that 67% of your postings should be other people's content and 33% should be your own. The message is that you should be helpful to your target audience when you post on your social media accounts.
I now use a 50/50 social media posting rule
In my current social media posting, half of the content I post is mine and half is content from others that I think will be useful to my target audience. While I still stick to the rationale behind the 10:4:1 rule, I'm posting more of my own content. The reason is simple: I've produced a lot of helpful content designed to educate SMB owners and executives to help them grow their companies. I have a library of over 200 blog articles that grows every week. When I first wrote the article, my library had about 10 blog articles in it.
My blog articles aren't sales pitches. They include how-to-articles, opinion pieces and observations on how to be successful in a highly challenging business environment. I do include calls-to-action that link to lead generation landing pages, but they link to content offers that are helpful as well and are entirely voluntary. I spend a lot of time and effort creating this content to help people and I want to share it.
Although it varies, I usually schedule 4 social media post per day on the social media channels I target (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.) Typically, I will post 2 blog articles from my library and 2 content pieces that I think will be useful to my audience. I very rarely post links to landing pages - generally when I publish a new eBook.
How to use the 50/50 social media posting rule and not be a salesy spammer
Here are some of the tenets I try to stick by when using the 50/50 social media posting rule:
- Don't post the same content over and over again. It's only possible to post different content every day if you have a large library of articles. When I write a new blog article, I'll post it on a weekly basis 3 times after it's published. Everything else is done on a one-off basis. I review the traffic that each blog post generates and try to share content that is popular with my audience.
- Make sure the content you're posting is helpful, not salesy. This should go without saying - you're content should demonstrate your value by being helpful, not by using a sledgehammer sales ptich.
- Be careful how you post your content. This advice is primarily for those who are posting their content in LinkedIn groups. Starting discussions in LinkedIn Groups by posting one of your blog articles can be spammy. You've probably seen some LinkedIn Groups where the only discussions are blog articles from group members. This is usually spammy and self-serving. It's far better to have someone else post your content in the LinkedIn Group than you. Before you post one of your articles in a LinkedIn Group, you should spend time participating in the group and getting to know people. If your first interaction in a LinkedIn Group is to post your blog article, you're probably not making a lot of friends. A better way to post your content in LinkedIn Groups is to use it to answer questions that people have or add to discussions that have already been started.
- Adjust your posting based on feedback. Software like HubSpot and HootSuite provides analytics that let you know how your posts resonate with your audience. Use this feedback to give the audience more of what they want.
- Mix up your content. Post blog articles, videos, Slideshare presentations and infographics. Mix up how-to pieces with opinion pieces and current event articles. Don't be a one-trick pony.
The 10:4:1 rule is still a good foundation for effective social media posting. The tenet behind the 10:4:1 rule is that effective social media marketing aims to help people, not sell to them. For those of us who are producing a lot of good content, the 50/50 rule may be more appropriate. When using the 50/50 social media posting rule, keep in mind the thought behind the 10:4:1 rule - at all times, be helpful and useful to your target audience.