Social Media and the 80/20 Rule

Social Media Strategy Desktop and MobileTake a look back at your recent posts for your small business social media account. It doesn’t matter if it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or something else. How many times are you directly promoting your small business out of the last 10 social media posts? All of them? 75% of them? Or maybe half of them?

Did you know to really drive engagement with your customers you should only be self-promoting about 20% of the time? The other 80% of your social media posts should focus on truly connecting with your customers. This could be informational posts that target their interests or maybe posts that help your customer.

Let’s dig into this a bit.

Hazards of Excessive Promotional Social Media Posts

If you only post promotional posts directly related to your small business, you risk people disengaging with your brand. Some will stop following your page – lost opportunity. Others will still follow, but skip right over your posts, never really reading them.

Constant promotion on social media platforms turns your page or account into nothing more than digital signage. Digital signage that people find easy to ignore – like billboards along the freeway.

Don’t miss out on what social media is about at its core – social engagement.

But What Do I Post?

So what do you post? It is easy to constantly promote your business. There isn’t a whole lot of thought that goes into it. Post your store events. Promote products in your store. Promote services your business provides. All important, but in moderation.

Posting genuinely engaging content to social media takes a little more work. It takes understanding your audience. It takes understanding their interests. It takes understanding challenges they face.

Time spent understanding your preferred customer and audience will help make curating social media content a little easier. Once you know your audience you can better determine what they will find engaging. Engagement builds a more enthusiastic base for your brand. This enthused audience will actually help drive those promotional posts further.

Let’s take a look at the fictitious craft beer taproom – Troy’s Taproom.

Social Media at Troy’s Taproom


Troy’s Taproom is a small taproom serving a variety of craft beers on tap. In addition to the numerous beers on tap, they serve a simple menu of american pub food. They serve craft beers from across the United States, though always reserving a few taps for local microbreweries. They also host tap takeovers to highlight microbrews within the state. On weekends they have local musicians onsite to perform. They also sell growlers for people on the go.

Troy's Taproom MicrobrewTroy, the owner of Troy’s Taproom, knows craft brews is an increasingly competitive market. With craft beer consumption growing his customer base expands. But so does the competition, with more microbreweries opening and others entering the taproom market.

Troy has identified two primary customer audiences. The first are the craft beer aficionados. These are the folks already into the craft beer scene. He doesn’t need to convince these people on the excellence of craft beer, they know that. He needs to convince them Troy’s Taproom has the expertise to serve the finest of the craft beers and provide a welcoming environment.

The other group are the people that are new to craft beers. Or maybe want to try them, but don’t really know where to start. These people can certainly be attracted by a welcoming establishment, but they also have questions. They are nervous and intimidated about even sampling craft beers. They are overwhelmed by the non-recognizable breweries and the unique names of those beers.

Social Media Strategy

Troy knows he needs to engage with both audience. He knows social media is a key part of his strategy. He knows posting events and promotional material, while helpful to the craft beer aficionados, isn’t really helping them engage with Troy’s Taproom. He needs that engagement to make his business stand out above his competition.

It certainly isn’t helping attract new craft beer customers. He needs a way to reach out to those potential customers. He needs a way to reduce their level of confusion and help them not be intimidated.

Here’s how Troy could follow the 80/20 guide of social media for small business and increase engagement with his customers while building his business.

Current Craft Beer Enthusiast Audience

This audience already knows the craft beer basics. They are probably passingly familiar with the more popular microbreweries and have their favorites. For this audience here are some topics that make for engaging social media posts.

  • Highlight an up and coming local microbrew that not many know about yet.
  • What’s with the cans versus bottles debate?
  • Anything particularly interesting in upcoming seasonal brews?
  • Highlight an obscure brewer from the opposite coast.
  • An in-depth look at the craft beer process.
  • An in-depth look at the ingredient selection process.
  • What makes a beer super hoppy?

Those are just some social media posts from Troy’s Taproom that this audience could find interesting. These could be in the form of articles on Troy’s own blog or links to other sources.

These are all non-promotional posts, but continue to build awareness in Troy’s brand – and his expertise in the topic. Followers of Troy’s Taproom are going to be less likely to skim right on by as their might be a nugget of information they find interesting.

The New to Craft Beer Audience

This audience is likely curious about the craft beer scene, but intimidated by all the choices. Or thinking everything is like an IPA – which they find too bitter. They need a beginner’s approach to the topic. Cover topics at a higher level to grow their knowledge of craft beers gradually. Define basic terms so everything isn’t so foreign. Social media posts for this audience might include.

  • Lagers, Pale Ales, IPAs, Pilsners, Porters – what are these?
  • What does hoppy mean?
  • Who are some of the popular microbreweries in the region or at Troy’s Taproom?
  • General overview of the craft beer process?
  • What basic traits shape the flavor of the beer?
  • What’s a good starter craft brew?
  • Discuss food pairings with craft beer styles.

These social media posts are all topics that can help someone new to the craft beer scene get started. It serves to reduce their confusion and make Troy’s Taproom seem new craft beer enthusiast friendly.

All of this done via non-promotional social media posts, that indirectly grow brand awareness and demonstrate expertise in the craft beer scene.

Non-promotional Social Media Posts – the 80%

80-20 social media content guideUsing Troy’s Taproom example above you can see how much more engaging non-promotional posts can be. Troy’s Taproom maintains an active presence, but interacts and engages more with their audience than constantly pushing promotional posts.

We used a craft beer business as the example, but this can be applied to any small business. You are in business to help people solve a problem. Identify your audience and you can begin to share and create content that directly help and is interesting to your audience. All without even trying to sell your services or product constantly.

Who would you rather do business with? A digital billboard of constant promotion or a helpful business freely sharing information and interesting stories?

Promotional Social Media Posts – the 20%

80-20 social media percentageNow that the 80% is figured out, that leaves 20% for some promotional posts for your business. Promotional posts are familiar territory for you and your small business. These are the posts where you highlight special events, your services, or products.

One area the small business may have overlooked in their social media posting strategy is using clear calls to action. The importance of this grows even more when promotional posts are 20% of your feed.

Posting an event? Make sure to clearly ask people to attend and mark that they are. Having a sale on something? Clearly ask people to purchase the product on sale.  Make it easy for people viewing your post to know what you want them to do.

Wrap Up

The 80/20 rule as applied to social media posting can help you create more engaged customers for your business. Avoiding the digital billboard effect for your social media posting habits will pay off in the long run for your business.

Focus on providing interesting and useful content to your audience with promotional posts delivering a clear call to action sprinkled in. It will deliver better results for your small business.