• BY VICKI MCLEOD: THE TIMES JULY 19-2012

    If you’re paying attention to conversations in the world of social media, you’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule.

    No doubt you’ve heard of it in reference to a number of other things as well, but in social media parlance, it refers to the formula used to determine the kind of content that makes for the best posts.

    Generally, 80 per cent of the content you post should be aimed at building relationships online and off, and 20 per cent (or less) should be about the marketing or selling of your product or service – or your idea or cause, if you are an organization.

    There is a common social media saying: “Content is king.” I prefer social media maven Mari Smith’s adaptation: “Content is king, but engagement is queen – and she rules the house.”

    Social media is about building relationships and growing networks, and the only way to develop online relationships is through online engagement.

    Content needs to be interesting, useful, witty and current – preferably all of the above.

    Oh yes, and did I mention in 140 characters or less, at least for Twitter? (Although Facebook posts with the greatest engagement rates come in at 80 characters or less. Really. I’m not making it up).

    So as a business or organization, how can you create content that’s engaging, adds value and gives you a return on the investment in time and technology?

    Look at it this way. The 80 per cent is like money in the bank. The PR bank, that is.

    By building rapport with online fans and followers, you’re creating a community of people who support your brand or your cause.

    You have a go-to pool of resources to get feedback on products, services, or programs (known as crowdsourcing).

    Your online community can also be mobilized to get behind an issue, idea, or event. And yes, they will buy from you, too.

    Here are a few tips to help you get started on great content creation:

    Get visual. It is no surprise that Pinterest, an image-sharing online pinboard platform, provides more referral traffic to other sites than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined. People love eye-candy. Include photos, infographics, and short video clips that tell your story.

    Be personal. This doesn’t mean revealing your deepest secrets online (in fact, we’d prefer you didn’t). But, it does mean being authentic and responding to fans and followers the same way you would offline. Your company or agency has a unique voice and style. Express it.

    Be positive. Seriously. Social media is the wrong place to get uppity.“Sharing the love” might sound trite, but it is a tenet of successful social sharing and an expectation of the online culture.This means thanking, acknowledging, offering public compliments, and attributing your sources.Happy brands cultivate happy followers.

    This isn’t to say that you can’t get serious about serious issues online. Just be cognizant of audience and choose your platform. Just like offline interaction, manners are important so add be polite to our list.

    In a recent conversation with a local blogger, he pointed out that Twitter and Facebook are ill designed for complex debates on important issues.

    I tend to agree.

    When I encounter negative, high-handed, or sarcastic remarks on posts I want to scream, “Get off my Facebook page!” but I don’t – because that would be rude. And negative.

    Personally, that’s just not my style.

    Want more? The Social Chicks are offering a free social media series through the Chamber of Commerce Serving Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. Next up: Twitter for Business on Thursday, July 26 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Registration through the chamber.

    – Vicki McLeod, president of Main Street Communications, can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and happily blogging at www.vickimcleod.com

    © Copyright (c) Maple Ridge Times