Sifting Through the Rules of Social Media Strategy

Every morning, I wake up and check my phone first thing. First Facebook, then Instagram, and maybe Twitter if there are any notifications. I usually scroll through and share quotes that I find relatable, retweet about fitness in Pittsburgh, or write a post about finding motivation to go to the gym in the morning. But never do I once think about the organization of my posts, the representation of my “brand”, or the strategy that I am using to hold my followers’ attention or gain more followers.

We tend to forget that although social media is much about us, it is more about our audience. At least, it is when we use social media platforms in a professional setting. Whether we are creating our own personal “brand” to become more attractive to employers, maintaining the social media platforms for another organization or business, or utilizing social media for any other professional reason, our posts must be strategic, organized, and meaningful.

When it comes to using various social media platforms efficiently and effectively, there have been a few “rules” proposed to help with social media strategy. Below are three that I find pretty interesting: the 5:3:2 rule, the 80/20 rule, and the 70/20/10 rule.

The 5:3:2 Rule


The 5:3:2 rule is an easy one to follow—out of ten posts on one given social media platform, five should be content from others that is relevant to your audience (curation), three should be your own content that is relevant to your audience (creation), and two should be personal that speaks to your brand (humanization). The curated posts are not only relevant, but they are also useful and sharable for your intended audience. Posts like this aren’t meant to be random and sporadic; whenever you are posting, especially when it comes to sharing materials from other sources, you need to make sure that whatever you are posting makes sense. The created posts are meant to attract your audience, not push them away, so avoid sales pitches and anything too abrupt or forceful. The humanizing posts, while only making up 20% of your posts, are the most crucial. These posts create the image and personality of your brand and gives life to your business. You can step farther out of the content comfort zone and share posts that are not as relevant to your business/industry.

The 80/20 Rule


The next rule is the 80/20 rule. This rule states that 80% of your social media posts should include entertainment content that does not involve self-promoting. Post like this are the ones that your audience will find relatable, including personal stories, experiences, and reflections—things that will keep your audience coming back for more. This helps engage your audience in conversation and builds a strong relationship. We cannot forget that this is social media, after all; people are here to socialize, not to hear your latest sales pitch. 20% of your posts, on the other hand, are promotional and persuasive. Here you are able to talk about your products, services, and anything else that relates to you, your brand, or your business. It is also suggested that 1 out of 5 posts can be brand-specific, if you are working for a certain company. In this 20%, offer incentives for your audience, such as coupons, special offers, or contests.

The 70/20/10 Rule


This rule is much like the other two, except the distribution of posts is different. 70% of posts should add value to and build your brand, 20% should be curated posts and ideas from other relevant sources, and 10% should promote your brand/business. This rule is focused on representing your story and brand, so 70% of the content should show your audience who you are. You also have to focus on building your network, and one of the best ways to do that is to build relationships through shared content. This 20% should be genuine and relevant to your brand and the image you are working towards creating. The final 10% should be self-promotional, where you share your work, products, and services.

 Okay Cheyenne, so what is your point?


As you can tell, there is a theme here between these three rules on social media strategy. No matter which approach you take (5:3:2; 80/20; 70/30/10), all of the rules include posting some form of personal content, curated content, and promotional content. Not only do you have to share these kinds of posts, but you also must balance the posts, which is where the rules come into play. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the rules, but you should try to use one of them through your social media platforms. The easiest way to do this is to utilize a social media management tool or app. Some of the most popular ones include Hootsuite and Buffer, which allow you to compose posts and schedule them to be shared at a later time. Good luck!


5:3:2 (50/30/20)






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12 thoughts on “Sifting Through the Rules of Social Media Strategy

  1. Great post! It is interesting that there are so many rules like this. There is the 50/50 rule for interviews (talk half of the time, listen half of the time) and the 80/ 20 rule in dating (Don’t leave your partner if you have 80% of things in common). I find that these rules are very beneficial to know and easy to remember. I specifically liked the 5-3-2 rule- it is interesting that personal posts are the most important.


  2. Like Rebecca, I also really liked the 5-3-2 rule. As I currently write blog posts and help with social media for my internship, I’ve never heard of this strategy before and I think it’s extremely beneficial when running social media platforms or writing content. Also, it just makes sense. Great article and great research. I appreciate how all this extensive information is compiled into one easy to read blog post.


  3. Wow, I was unaware of any rules for social media strategy. These are very informative with 3 different rule types that you can choose to fit your type of social media management marketing. I personally like the 80/20 rule, it seems like you are engaging more with your audience yet promoting your brand. These rules seem very simple to remember and the links are helpful too!


  4. This was really helpful blog post; I like the break-down of how much content should be what category. I think it’s important to post curated content because it shows that your organization knows about the industry, is interested and invested in the industry, and is keeping up with current events and trends. I think some organizations, especially technology or chemical-related companies focus so much on being professional and formal that they forget about the personal brand identity aspect of social media that can build brand loyalty.


  5. Similar to the other comments, I find this post really helpful. I never really thought about how much your digital track record matters until I made a “professional” twitter for myself and started trying to keep everything related to strictly business. It’s good to know, however, that it’s still extremely important to keep social media personal, too, so that people can get a sense of who you are. I think the 5-3-2 rule is my favorite because it seems the most specific and detailed, and I like having a plan to follow. My only question about it is how to create a narrative that makes sense through posts. When I scroll through my Twitter newsfeed, I tend to retweet whatever seems interesting in the order that I see it, so I wonder how one would go about trying to keep the information streamlined.


  6. Great breakdown of the rules above, very clearly articulated! I especially like the 80-20 rule regarding self-promotion in content. I know that, with Twitter specifically, when certain accounts (usually parody ones) become popular quickly and sell their account, that ratio usually pretty much switches — followed by a quick unfollow from me. Certain friends of mine self-promote a lot, and while it is annoying, I end up phasing out most of their tweets, promotional or otherwise. So this post brings science to that mindset and makes it make more sense: too much promotional content will turn off followers, as this post articulated.


  7. This is a very helpful and informative post. I think along the way we kind of develop our own operations on social media that can function in one of these rule sets. I feel like personally, I would more comfortably fit in the 80/20 rule–I post myself very rarely on Twitter and Facebook…I do a lot more sharing.


  8. Really helpful post! People are very unaware of how much content to include when posting, and how often to post. These rules that you shared with us give insight on that very subject. I enjoyed learning about how much content should be posted in what category. It is important to vary content because it keeps users engaged and allows for variation on your platform.


  9. It’s really interesting to think about these different strategies for social media production. So much of personal social media use is intuitive that it seems almost wrong that we should stick to strict formulas like these in professional use, but it makes sense. I’m wondering how these formulas would work in the context of social media teams, where many people contribute to the cultivation of a social media brand. Would each person be delegated a different task, or would they just all have to be aware of what other people have already posted before they post?


  10. This was a great post Cheyenne. Well-researched and focused. I have been thinking a lot about the idea of branding in social media because of our case studies and this gives me more to add to the mix of my ruminations! I have been considering trying out an app like Hootsuite and your post is making me consider it even more. Thanks for the really great information!


  11. I really liked this post! On social it’s easy to see numbers such as followers, likes, or retweets, but I think these ratios are normally forgotten. Because I post on social when I’m “in the moment” I don’t plan out content that would follow these guidelines, but knowing of these recommendations will be very helpful in the future. Also, I found the 70%, 20%, 10% infographic interesting as my work follows a similar format when it comes to personal development and achieving your goals. Seems like this is a winning combo!


  12. Cheyenne, this post is incredibly helpful for anyone who runs a business’s social media account. I’m even thinking of sending it to my friend, who just started posting for the book store she works at. The best part was that you didn’t offer only one strategy, but three, so that businesses can pick and choose. Thanks for the great information!


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