In search of the perfect social media content ratio

Type: CW Observer Blog
By Caroline Cornell
27 June 2014

50-50 ratio handwritten on blackboard

How much should you share about yourself on social media? About others? Exactly how often should you retweet?

In an article from TIME and Buffer, Kevan Lee shares six popular social media ratios that balance curated content and original content:

  • 5-3-2: (5) curated content/ (3) your content/ (2) personal status updates
  • 4-1-1: (4) curated content /(1) promotional /(1) retweet
  • 555+: (5) curated content /(5) updates from you / (5) responses & replies/ (+) miscellaneous
  • Rule of Thirds: (1/3) curated content/ (1/3) your content / (1/3) responses & replies
  • 30/60/10: (30%) your content / (60%) curated content /(10%) promotional
  • 20/1: (20) “relational posts“—or, content that helps your followers in some way /(1) promotional post

Though these ratios favor curated content over promoting original content, Lee admits that his company Buffer falls into a 9-1 ratio for their content (nine Buffer-related updates for every curated post). He argues that this strategy works if you rethink how you define “self-promotion”—a term that traditionally carries a negative connotation.

Self-promotion, Lee says, can be a good thing as long as your content provides value to your followers. And, it can even help to promote transparency: “At Buffer, we feel that sharing our own content on social media is a way to reveal more about us, to show and share our work. Much of our content has a ‘let’s learn this together’ feel, and we’re never shy about sharing our process, warts and all,” he says.

Do you follow one of the popular ratios listed above, or does your social media strategy look similar to Buffer’s? Is it time for us to let go of our fear of self-promotion?


Caroline Cornell

Caroline Cornell is associate editor for IABC’s content department.

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