Are You Following the Social Media Rule of Thirds?

By Sam Milbrath | 2 years ago | No Comments

Three isn’t a crowd when it comes to your social media’s content strategy. Plus, if you’re an owl it’s called a Parliament.
Three isn’t a crowd when it comes to your social media’s content strategy. Plus, if you’re an owl it’s called a Parliament.

It’s tempting for businesses to exclusively share their content to drive sales or marketing, neglecting authentic engagement. It takes discipline to share content from like-minded businesses or industry thought leaders. By following social media’s so-called “Rule of Thirds,” you will be sure you’re sharing content that attracts and maintains an engaged following.

What is Social Media’s Rule of Thirds?

  • ⅓ of your social content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
  • ⅓ of your social content should surface and share ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
  • ⅓ of your social content should be based on personal interactions and build your personal brand.

Sharing your own branded content should come naturally. It’s the other two thirds that may be a challenge. Let’s talk about why sharing professional and personal content is equally important.

Put your Pride Aside and Share Another Business’s Content

Why is sharing outsider content by other businesses or thought leaders so important? It shows your audience that you know the industry like the back of your hand, you’re collegial and aware of competition. It shows that you’re collaborative and confident enough in your own brand to share another’s content. It also doubles your exposure by connecting your content to their audience or online community. By sharing content from another business, even a competitor, you position your business as the industry’s finest, most well rounded content source.

To source content by other businesses, try these HootSuite features:

  • Find Industry Influencers: Use keyword searches or Twitter’s suggested user lists to find influencers in your industry. Once you’ve found them, add them to a list or stream for continued listening.
  • Follow your Competition: Find your competition or other related businesses online with keyword searches, add them to a list or stream and start sharing the good stuff.
  • Follow Industry Hashtags and Keywords: Source your industry’s hashtags or keywords and follow them in a stream to keep them in your backpocket. This will help you find new content and know what to include in yours.
  • Make Lists: Create lists of influencers, competitors, industry keywords and thought leaders and keep them in separate streams for easy listening.
  • Set up Streams: Multiple streams simplify your listening opportunities so you can spend less time searching for great content.
  • Use Multiple Re-Tweet Styles: In HootSuite, by selecting “edit” in the Retweet button, you can give their content your own spin. Or, by selecting “Yes,” it simply goes out over your channels with their profile attached. This makes your Twitter feed look more dynamic and shows that you’re outsourcing content (good thing).
Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 11.58.20 AM
One great example of brands collaborating together to increase their exposure is with @TescoMobile, @YorkshireTea, @RealJaffaCakes, @CadburyUK… the list goes on. Tapping into a customer conversation with Tesco Mobile, each of these businesses exploded in growth thanks to their more fun, collaborative sides.

Time to Get Personal

Getting personal on social media is twofold: build your personal brand on your own channels and be more personable on your business’s. Personal accounts give you the opportunity to share engaging content, build a personal brand around your interests and engage with your followers.

Businesses, on the other hand, can learn a lot from personal social accounts. Engaging with your audience over personal interactions opens your business up and shows a vulnerable, more human side. This could mean sharing your customers’ stories, liking their comments or encouraging employees to be brand ambassadors online. In doing so, you’re not only acknowledging your audience, but building an engaged community.

To listen and engage with your community, try these HootSuite features:

  • Rely on Teams: Empower your employees to be ambassadors online. They can share and amplify your business’ content, jump into one-on-one conversations with a personal touch, and collaborate to reply to and like fans’ comments.
  • Set up Streams: Use streams and tabs for a quick overview of your social media activity. This helps to listen and engage better with your audience.
  • Find Community Ambassadors: Let’s say you wrote a blog post about your business and a fan had a lot to say in the comments. Reach out to them to write guest posts or follow them on social media to source different perspectives.

At HootSuite we empower employees to be ambassadors with a personal touch. For example, everyone is encouraged to contribute to the blog and build a professional, personal brand. This adds fresh perspectives and exposes HootSuite to more diverse audiences. Likewise, our customer service team is encouraged to sign messages with their name (^SM for example). This allows them to have a voice and drive personal interactions while being helpful.

Written by

Bill Gutches
Bill Gutches 5pts

This Rule of Thirds is new to me but very interesting.  Thank you

jnmoneypenny 5pts

Love this, Sam Milbrath: "Businesses can learn a lot from personal social accounts. Engaging with your audience over personal interactions opens your business up and shows a vulnerable, more human side. In doing so, you’re not only acknowledging your audience, but building an engaged community."

PackardsKing 5pts

personal interactions in business... does it mean just answering queries from customers? or is there anything else we can do to engage follower and get potential clients out of them?

sam_milbrath moderator 5pts

@PackardsKing Hey! Thanks for reaching out. I think having personal interactions beyond just customer service is totally doable. In a way, you're doing that right now. You're reaching out and sparking a conversation with me  - both on behalf of our brands. :)

sam_milbrath moderator 5pts

@Monique B  Glad I could help you mentor your fellow entrepreneurs! 

sam_milbrath moderator 5pts

@KevinKelly0  Thanks for your insight! If 80/20 works for your business and you're audience is engaging and growing, then keep doing what works. The point is to avoid too much self promotion for your business. The problem with 80/20 however is that it misses the personal touch and other content for balance. Why not try out the rule of thirds and report back on any changes? :)

ShadowMourne 5pts

This post is great. Thanks for your help hootsuite. I hope your main website comes back up soon. I was getting Unreachable messages most of yesterday morning.

Brian Lovin
Brian Lovin 5pts

Love it! HootSuite is the best social media management tool out there!

KevinKelly0 5pts

Thanks, @Sam_Milbrath. Until now, I've been following the 80/20 rule--80% of your content should be informational, and only 20% should be promotional. I like the idea of including a more personal touch, but do you really see the thirds as equal? There are a lot of recommendations out there to avoid too much promotion, as it might be a turn-off to the community/ies you serve (e.g., see this Social Media Today post Interested to hear your thoughts! @KevinKelly0

Monique B
Monique B 5pts

I've never heard of the 1/3 rule before but am happy to see that's what I'ven been doing pretty much already.
I think it also depends on the medium (Twitter more for business, facebook both and instagram more personal)

good explanation on why you should also share competitors content. I find this hard to explain sometimes to some fellow entrepreneurs but this says it al! 

markeastmangolf 5pts

Hootsuite, you guys are masters at your art. We just put our Golf facility on the social media map in the last 90 days. Your tweets, blogs and articles have made the process a blast, and rewarding. I am watching and listening every day. Thank you from @markeastmangolf

cmelasky 5pts

I'm always looking for different perspectives on social media marketing.  This post had some good tips.  Thanks for the information!