How the 80/20 Rule can help your business

How the 80/20 Rule can help your business

How the 80/20 Rule can help your business

Have you ever been to a networking meeting like BNI, or perhaps a local Chamber of Commerce function? The truly skilled networkers do not attend these events to sell themselves. Instead, they want to make as many quality introductions as possible, and ask questions about those people. What do you do? What kinds of business or clients are you looking for? And as these new contacts answer these questions, the skilled networker will be cataloguing that information and pairing them up with other people they've met for the purpose of introducing them and referring them.

People who do really well at these events have recognized that if they approach it as an opportunity to connect and help others, to network, then they will create value and opportunities for themselves. Social Media needs to be approached the same way, and one of the guides for businesses just getting started is The 80/20 Rule.

The 80/20 Rule originated in business and economics, where it stated that "80% of your sales will come from 20% of your customers." In recent years this rule has been appropriated by the social media community as a guideline for social media activity. The revised rule states that 80% of your content should be about or from other people, and only 20% of your posts should be about yourself.

What does that mean exactly?

First, it means that posts to social media that are about your products and services specifically should be at a minimum. That's not to say that you can't ever mention what you do or sell, just don't do it all the time. Don't be that guy that talks about nothing but himself!

Second, it means that most of your posts should be information that you're sharing from other sources, or you're at least talking about something other than what you do. An easy example is to look for and share news stories that relate to your business and industry and share those.

So, let's say that you've decided that you're going to share a couple of posts a day to Facebook. That's ten posts over the course of a business week, which means that only two of those posts should be specifically about your business. The rest should be articles you've curated from other sources, interesting quotes or facts from your industry, or other helpful information you've found to share.

I know, your next question is, where do I find great information to share? And that's a good question. Each business and industry is different, and I'm happy to brainstorm some ideas with you, but here are some general suggestions to get you started:

  • Trade Publications
  • Industry Websites
  • Colleagues and even, yes, sometimes competitors
  • Snippets of information from Wikipedia or other sites you trust

It will take a little time to identify trusted sources and set up a nice system for yourself, but it's not as hard as you might think. You probably already have 5 - 10 websites or magazines that your regularly go to for information to keep yourself informed. Wouldn't your clients appreciate some of that same information?

I use Feedly to subscribe to specific website RSS feeds. These feeds deliver fresh content to my Feedly app whenever something new is published. I subscribe to feeds from both publishers and news outlets, as well as the feeds from the major companies in my industry, social media. If Google or Facebook issues a release about something significant, I want to read about it right away.

If you use Feedly, it's very easy to sift through the new articles and pick out ones you want to share. And if you use Buffer to space out and schedule your posts, you can easily add any articles you find to your Buffer and let the posting happen right on time.

The easiest and probably best source for sharing material though is actually from other social media users!

First, if you follow influencers and colleagues in your industry on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, you will see plenty of interesting articles and information that they're sharing, which you too can share.

Second, if you share something with your followers that originated from someone else, you become connected to that person in the minds of your followers. It's a subtle but true aspect of social media psychology. Sharing great content from industry experts makes you look good!

Third, by actively sharing and engaging these influencers, you will develop relationships with them over time, and they will likely reciprocate your actions by sharing your content with their followers.

No where is this more evident than on Google+. Once you get comfortable with Google+ and begin to follow quality members, you will see some amazing sharing and discussion of information going on. It's not uncommon for Google+ members to see one of your posts, share it with their own followers, and provide a glowing introduction to the post and mention of you. This kind of activity increases your reach and expands the number of people who follow you tremendously.

So, start by doing some sharing of your own. Provide your followers with great content from a variety of sources, and be a good social network citizen, and your efforts will be rewarded.

Image courtesy of Netlaw Media, Flickr.


Mike is a Social Media Consultant and Blog Coach in St. Louis. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's. He is active on all of the major social networks and enjoys writing and teaching small business owners on how to leverage the Internet to promote and grow their business. Mike provides training and seminars to businesses and individuals on topics like "Content Marketing - Using Blogging + Social Media + SEO to equal Small Business Success" or "Establishing a Brand on Google+" or "How to use HootSuite to Manage Your Social Media Presence."

Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management."

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