Three: It's The Magic Number
It’s time to talk about the big three, and no I don’t mean The Bee Gees or the Harry Potter trio. It can be easy to over-complicate things when it comes to running your business’ social media accounts. Equally, it can be just as easy to neglect your accounts from posting quality content. You’ll find multitudes of information online about how to effectively run your social media accounts, although many of the articles/blog pieces you come across will give conflicting information and some of it may be too complex for novices to understand.
I know. Life is already full of social rules – don’t speak with your mouth full, avoid dropping your phone and cracking your screen in public, never ask “pardon?” a third time – just chuckle, nod and reply “yeah”, don’t park your car directly next to someone in an empty carpark, don’t continue to say “bless you” after someone’s third sneeze – I could go on – but if you want to succeed in the world of social media, you should abide by this best practice.
I was overwhelmed with information when I started researching into social media strategies and that was when Jason introduced me to The Rule of Three. As wonderful a tool as Google is, it can sometimes overload us with too much information, misdiagnose our gin-induced headache for a serious medical condition and can also provide us with inaccurate information due to the lack of “internet police” in the world.
This is why you would usually employ someone like us to take care of your social media, SEO and digital marketing to ensure you a place on that first page of Google.
You may be thinking, “I was told there’d be no math” and wondering why we are about to discuss fractions; well this is why: Incorrect use of social media could lead to neglecting authentic engagement. It takes discipline to use social media correctly and learning about The Rule of Three will ensure you have the best knowledge possible to equip you to handle your social media.
What is the Rule of Three?
The Rule of Three is a formula to guide you into posting the right kind of material for your company. You may have thought that you could just post any old thing in any old order and be good to go; but I’m afraid that isn’t the case. The Rule of Three gives you three easy steps to ensuring quality content, which are:
1. Personal – People like to invest in the person behind a business, especially small businesses.
2. Free – Sharing good quality articles, free online tools, images and information from leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses. People enjoy free resources.
3. Sell – The promotion of your business. It is useful if you can link an article from your free resources to your company website to keep it all relevant. It is important not to constantly promote your business on your page.
Using your social media in this way will allow you to give a balanced message to your audience. Because, whilst sharing your own branded content should come naturally, it’s the other two thirds that you may find challenging. You want to ensure you’re using a strategy that continually illustrates you and your company’s ethos and values in the most reliable and interesting way. Let’s go into more detail.
Personal – 1 of 3
It’s all in the name – “social” media – and that is exactly what you should be doing for the first step; being social. Engaging with your audience is key to building an active following; and by doing that, you begin to build relationships with customers.
You should take note of personal social media accounts; engaging directly with your audience over personal interactions opens a vulnerable and more human side to your business – and after all; people buy from people.
You can do this by:
• Responding directly to clients’ comments/queries.
• Liking their comments.
• Sharing their stories.
• Encouraging your employees to be brand ambassadors online.
• Tailor your language and tone to the specific circumstance – if you’re sharing a joke, then it’s okay to #LOL about it.
• Respond within a reasonable time frame – no one likes to be kept hanging.
• Share some office-antics or employee-activity – a little bit of hilarity and relatability can go a long way.
This means not only are you acknowledging your audience, but building an engaged community. Ignoring a comment/conversation directed at you on social media, is just like a speech-giver skipping the Q&A that follows a speech. It also gives your audience an “I don’t care for your input” sort of vibe and this could bring a swift end to community-building.
Free – 2 of 3
As youngsters we were taught that sharing is caring, this is true in this aspect as sharing other people’s industry-related content (one third of the time) can go a long way – after all, who doesn’t love a retweet? It can give exposure to your brand and allow you to demonstrate your awesome industry knowledge; helping establish your business’ authority. Just like conversations show interest in other people, sharing relevant content shows interest (and knowledge) in your industry.
Sharing other people’s content creates word-of-mouth traffic and can do wonders for small businesses. For example, you could share an article and ask your followers’ opinions and recommendations for further reading. You could then receive various replies and messages with recommendations and as a result, more followers which may lead to more website traffic and possible investment in your service. You could then take the information that your followers have shared and generate a further blog post which would be likely to produce more word-of-mouth traffic and so the cycle continues.
Also, sharing outsider content shows that you are collaborative and confident enough in your own brand to share other’s content. It doubles your exposure by linking your post to both yours and their audiences.
Things you can do:
• Find industry influencers and monitor the content of their posts. You can post your own comment with a retweet on Twitter, to add your own spin to the post.
• Follow your competition and other related businesses online with key word searches and share their good stuff – you could even write a blog post inspired by their post, hopefully they will share it with their community.
• Follow industry hashtags and keywords – make notes so that you can keep ideas for future content.
• Sharing industry related news articles – keeping your audience in the know makes you a useful free resource.
• Try to remember to credit when sharing – again, this could lead to the owner of the content you are sharing, sharing your post with their followers, therefore a larger audience.
• Sharing good comments and reviews about your business! Although this overlaps with self-promotion, technically it wasn’t you, so...
Sell - 3 of 3
When you make the initial decision to set up social media accounts for your business, there is no doubt that this will be down to your desire to promote your business. You probably find this simple as it’s easy to talk about and it’s what you know best. These posts should be geared towards conversion and generating profits.
To illustrate, imagine meeting someone who only wants to talk about themselves – we’ve all been there right? By limiting the conversation to one individual, it removes the ability to converse from the table; so, it’s time to switch up the topics. If someone has made the decision to follow you on social media, they are most likely a fan of your products/services already. This is great, because it allows you to talk about and promote your company to them further. However, it is important to do so within limits (1/3 in particular), due to the reasons stated in the first two thirds of this post, and also to ensure that you aren’t being that guest at the dinner party who only wants to talk about themselves.
Some examples of things to post are:
• Highlighting sales/offers/promotions.
• The release of a new product/service/blog post.
• Welcoming new clients on board and why your followers should join them.
The bottom line: This product is amazing. Buy this product. Buy it from me.
Remember: the rule of thirds is relative. So for example, if you plan on posting 3 times daily, the “sell” should more likely be 1 in 10. Also, when we’re talking about breaking things into thirds, we’re talking about variation. Don’t talk about your business at the same time every day; mix it up.
Tools to Help You Manage
If you’re finding this all a bit daunting, there are many social media management tools available to help you make more beneficial and relevant posts.
Continuing with the rule of three, here are three of the most highly ranked:
1. HootSuite – Offers both free and paid plans to handle multiple accounts. Easy to learn the features with its specialised training platform. One of the most widely used and most robust.
2. Hubspot – Allows you to monitor and publish to social accounts.
3. MeetEdgar – Described as ‘hiring a content manager for a fraction of the cost’, it has a large impact on traffic by automatically generating new audiences.
The Best of Three
So, we’ve established that maintaining interesting and engaging social media for any business all comes down to finding the right balance. There is a huge amount of competition online so you need to ensure that you are using a formula that continually illustrates you and your company’s ethos and values in the most reliable and interesting way.
You should be aiming for 1/3 ‘personal’, 1/3 ‘free’ industry information and 1/3 self-promotion, to ensure delivery of the most successful, balanced messaging to your audiences. Remember to mix it up and try not to post in a routine order. You could try to keep a theme to engage readers throughout the week; for example, if a gardening equipment company were posting information regarding the latest research surrounding a piece of equipment, their next post could be asking their audience’s opinions on the article and the third post could be a link to their website where they supply the piece of equipment.
Overall, the rule of thirds is a way of organising your content so you are showing a robust view of who you are, who your business is and that you are human; just like your audience. By using this formula, you should be able to build your social media networks, grow an engaged audience who enjoy the content you post and grow to like you as a business. This will hopefully result in more traffic to your website and potentially, more customers. If you are finding this all too overwhelming, need some advice or would like to enquire about experts managing your social media for you; drop us a message or give us a call and we’ll do our best to help.