As the adage goes, rules are made to be broken.
In the realm of social media marketing, this is certainly true. As author and Digital Royalty Founder Amy Jo Martin famously says, when it comes to digital marketing, “renegades write the rules.”
Marketing professionals had the so-called rules drilled into their heads through academic or extracurricular study, while rogue marketers are sure to come across them in any social-related Google search. But as the window for innovation opens, how can we continue to work within these confines of our profession?
You must learn the rules before you break them.
Mom didn’t let you eat ice cream for dinner with good reason; a nutritious meal benefitted your general wellbeing. However, remember that one time your team won little league and she let it slide? The memory and warm, fuzzy emotions were worthy tradeoffs for the well-rounded meal you missed. This time, the benefits outweighed the risk.
Is your social team certain that the benefits of breaking these rules are outweighing the risks? By learning their true value, you can better evaluate your strategic choice to ditch the status quo.
Here are five social media rules taken back to their roots:
1. The 80/20 rule.
Only a quarter of your content should directly promote your brand, but do you know the roots of this strategy?
The Pareto Principle states that 80 percent of output derives from just 20 percent of input. This standard also guides a lot of our current thinking on work-life balance. Ponder these questions before you break the rule:
Why do our fans find and follow us? Are we a source of thought leadership and meaningful engagement, or simply a medium of relaying brand information?
What is the output we are seeking? What does our 20 percent truly look like?
Are we being overly promotional simply because we’re not curating or creating enough nonbranded content?
Is this an efficient and attainable strategy across all platforms?
2. Twitter is an information network.
In 2011 Michael Abbott, Twitter’s former VP of engineering, said that the platform was “not a social network, [Twitter is] an information network.” Plenty has changed since then, but the rule remains.
It’s a notion that â¨Brian Solis gives allegiance to, noting the ways Twitter is used despite its design.
Today, many brands turn to Twitter for engagement. I’ve been known to value engagements over impressions on Twitter, and have seen the strategy pay off firsthand. Ask yourself these questions:
Are you using Twitter as an information network, or a social network?
When measuring success, do you value Twitter impressions or engagement more? Does this match your answer to the first question?
3. Content must be timely.
This is a principle of newsworthiness. Guidelines on producing a great news piece have a lot in common with the requirements for a solid social media update. Is it local, ethical and timely?
Though timeliness is often a winning factor, it may not help you beat that tricky Facebook algorithm. Surprisingly, when it comes to organic success on Facebook, evergreen content trumps all.
Here are a few questions to ask:
What do we have to gain from strengthening our organic Facebook strategy? Does timeliness play a strategic role in our postings throughout the day?
How many of our posts are timely vs. evergreen? Is this aiding, or taking away from, engagement opportunities over time?
4. Images boost engagements.
A strong visual strategy is debatably the most integral factor in 2015 social media success.
Any report will show that content with an image outperforms links or normal content, hands down. But are you building a visual strategy, or are you simply sharing images?
Don’t just stick to this rule; outperform the industry standard. These questions will help you assess your strategy:
Are static images performing well enough, or could we integrate GIFs and video to bolster our visual strategy?
What types of engagements are we looking to boost?
Are we measuring diverse visual content using the right metrics?
5. Branding must be cohesive across channels.
In the dawn of social media marketing, when every brand felt the need to have a presence on every up-and-coming social network, the need for cohesive branding made a lot of sense. Now we know that social platforms must be chosen strategically, and used for varying purposes.
Denny’s Facebook strategy varies greatly from their slightly infamous Twitter and Tumblr strategy. Answer these questions before you break this rule:
Does our branding match our strategy for each channel?
If branding is seasonal or campaign-based, do these changes make sense to use across channels?
Should they be limited to one platform instead?
What are your favorite social media rules to break, PR Daily readers?