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I’ll admit it.

Businesses use digital marketing and social media to ultimately improve their bottom line. Not just to be sociable.

And that’s not a bad thing! But there are good and bad ways to do it…

In a recent post I shared a realisation I had that the “X updates per day/week/month” guideline frequently used in digital strategies can result in our posting for posting’s sake, rather than providing valuable contributions that are relevant to your community, and I would like to expand on some aspects of that.

Another guideline that is often bandied about by us digital and social media professionals is using a variation of the Pareto Principle with your updates, and using a 1:4 ratio with your sales-focused:everything else updates.

This means that for every “this is a specific service or product that we offer and where/how/why you should buy it” update, be it on your blog, e-newsletter or social media channel of choice, share 4 other updates that are relevant to your brand and community, but aren’t specifically “selling” your “thing”.

This doesn’t mean that it can’t be about your “thing”, but not overtly selling it.

A great way to achieve this balance is by sharing other people’s content.

What’s that she’s saying!? Didn’t she also tell us in that other post to focus on creating original content and NOT share other people’s!?

Yes and no.

It IS ideal to create and share as much of your own, unique content as possible. DON’T try to rip off other people’s content, without appropriately crediting them. And if someone else has created something that would be interesting to your community, why not share it!? Appropriately of course…

Social media is simply “online conversations” and if we’re always talking about ourselves, and not sharing other useful information (different to gossiping), it’s not much of a conversation… (and keep in mind the very important “listening” part of a conversation).

As a business it may seem counter productive to share someone else’s information, as your community might follow their link and visit their website or social channel, not yours, and so aren’t you sending them away!?

Yes, but as a confident business, and good internet citizen, if you consistently share useful and relevant information – regardless of the source – your community will remember YOU for it!

This doesn’t mean that the 4 “non-sales” posts need to all be other peoples! You can still invest valuable time into creating your own interesting and non-salesy updates. Original content is awesome! But there is also value in collating existing information from other sources and adding that to your content mix.

Links to relevant news articles and blog posts are a great example of this type of “collated” content and work really well on channels like Twitter, but also Facebook and LinkedIn.

Don’t JUST share the link though… You might have saved yourself time by not writing the whole thing yourself, but use a little of that to explain why it is interesting and you are sharing it.

Or add your own take on it.

Do you agree? Disagree?

This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your brand personality or build your own personal brand.

This leads me to another favourite principle of mine: the 1% rule.


While some sources claim that this rule is dead, I don’t. Sure the proportions might have changed slightly, or be very different depending on the specific community, but the basic premise is still very relevant:

  • Few people create original content.
  • Some people share content.
  • The vast majority of people just read the content that other people have created and shared.

So try to be part of the 1%, and when you’re sharing others’ content (being part of the 9%), try to put a little twist or perspective on it. Otherwise you could get lost in the noise.

I see it like an echo.

There are bad echoes: on telephone lines, or a bad Skype connection.

And there are good echoes: in the mountains, very useful when you’re lost and trying to find help.

Be a good echo.

Create, collate and share good content. And help other people to find it.

Just like a good echo, the rewards will come back to you.

Feature image of Dead Horse Point, Utah, by @IsaacForman on Twitter. Used here with his permission.

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