Last summer I attended my first blogging conference. (I wore a sock bun and everything!) It was a day packed with useful information, helpful tips and plenty of networking.

Though I learned a lot, one idea in particular stuck with me. Scott Kleinberg, of the Chicago Tribune, suggested that when it comes to our time on social media, we should apply the rule of thirds.

  • 1/3 of our time should be spent talking about our brand.
  • 1/3 of our time should be spent sharing others’ content related to our field.
  • 1/3 of our time should be spent being ourselves – showing the world what makes us tick.

This was a watershed moment for me. Suddenly I began to look at social media activity on a macro level rather than post-by-post. Instead of focusing solely on the update I was about to share, I stopped to consider how this update fit into the larger conversation.

Now, a year later, while I still think the rule of thirds is helpful, I’ve discovered something that works even better for me.

I humbly present the 80/10/10 Principle.

I propose we spend:

  • 80% of our time engaging with others
  • 10% of our time promoting others
  • 10% of our time promoting ourselves

For those of us who use social media primarily for business this ratio seems a bit shocking. After all, there isn’t much time in that scenario to get our product in front of our audience. Instead most of our time is spent showing up, responding, connecting and participating. It’s a social media strategy that’s heavy on the social and light on the media. Could that possibly work?

Yes. It can.

Let’s be honest, do you like to have commercials in your face constantly? Well, your connections don’t either.

The 80/10/10 ratio quiets the megaphone of self-promotion. It makes room for conversation. But most importantly when we employ the 80/10/10 principle we earn the right to be heard.

Listening, responding to and connecting with others builds social currency. I believe you’ll find, as I have, that that social currency is infinitely more valuable than taking time to write 3 more “me, me, me” posts.

But we want to hear from you! Confession time: What does your current ratio look like? Would you consider giving the 80/10/10 principle a try?