The 80/20 Rule of Twitter

The 80/20 principle. If you’ve done any marketing at all, then you are probably familiar with this rule, first coined by Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian Economist. At its simplest, the Pareto principle, as it’s also called, posits that there is a relationship of 80% to 20% between the effects and the causes of most events. In Pareto’s case, he was referring to how approximately 80% of the property in Italy was owned by 20% of the people in the country.  While this principle certainly worked for the economy of Italy in the late 1800s, it also applies to many things across our culture. 

The 80/20 Rule Is Everywhere

For instance, if you were to go on a diet to try and lose weight, it might be beneficial to attempt an 80/20 balance between the calories you lose from eating better and the calories lost through exercise. In sports, a commonly held belief is that approximately 20% of teams and athletes win approximately 80% of championships. Another one is that 80% of a country’s healthcare costs are directed to 20% of the population. 

While it doesn’t have to be those exact percentages, it is amazing how many instances in our society follows this general pattern. When it comes to your business, it might mean that 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your customer base. 

80/20 and Your Twitter Feed

What does the 80/20 rule have to do with your twitter feed? Quite a lot, it turns out. Social media should be a big part of your marketing plan, and Twitter is one of the best platforms to use. The 80/20 rule when it comes to twitter applies to the type of content you produce and how you produce it. Essentially, it’s that 80% of your success from Twitter will come from 20% of your posts. What does this mean? It means that you can absolutely use Twitter to promote your products and services, but only if that type of content is just 20% of your feed. 

Twitter is no longer just a place to waste time when you are sitting at home. It is a very valuable tool not only for drawing people to your sales page, but also to deepen the connection between you and your customers, and even managing your online reputation. That’s where your 80% comes in. Most of the time, you should be posting things your audience can engage with. These posts do not specifically have a call to action included. A call to action might look something like: 

  • Visit our page to learn more
  • Buy now and get another at half-price
  • By registering with us today, you will get a lifetime of unlimited access
  • Sign up to our newsletter to get great content right to your inbox

These are very clear statements asking your customers to “do something”. The rest of the time, your focus should be on posting content that provides value, or that starts a conversation. Doing this is what truly builds your brand and your business’ personality. These types of posts should make up approximately 80% of your content, leaving room for 20% of your content to include sales promotion. 

The question then becomes: how do I come up with the right content for that 80% that will help grow my brand so that I can be more successful with the 20% sales pitches? Well, here’s what you can do about it. 

Decide Who it is You are Targeting

The most important part of creating any content, whether it’s for Twitter or otherwise, is figuring out who you are speaking to. Click To Tweet Not only do you need an idea of the demographics you are trying to reach, such as age, income level, marital status, but also what type of customers generally buy your product. It could be that this is a wide cross-section of people, or you may find it to be a smaller subset. 

One way to help determine who you should be targeting is by using the 80/20 principle in a different way. A general business tenet is that 20% of your customers will provide 80% of your sales. Take a look at your best customers. Who are they? What are their basic demographics? Do they interact with your content, and if they do, what type of content do they tend to engage with? 

These answers, along with some general Twitter best practices, can go a long way to helping you use Twitter more effectively and efficiently to generate sales. Some things that you can look for include: 

  • Age and probable income levels
  • What other types of posts they connect with
  • Commonalities amongst users
  • If they tend to retweet or reply

The Pareto Principle applies to Twitter marketing in a 3rd way that can help you as well. While it’s not exact, studies show that a small percentage of Twitter users contribute to 80% of the content on Twitter. What does this mean? It means that there are a lot of passive users on the platform, and a few people who drive the content those passive people consume. You can use this to your advantage by getting those opinion-makers on your side. 

This can take some work, but go through your followers to see who is posting more and engaging with your content. There are twitter analytics tools that can help with this. Then, target your content for those users. Maybe they will buy and maybe they won’t, but if you can have them retweeting and replying to your content, then you can be sure that they have passive followers who are seeing it. 

Twitter accounts that post a lot tend to have more followers because they have interesting things to say and can be counted on to say them. Take advantage of this to create thought-leaders who are on your side. 

How to Use Twitter To Your Advantage

Now that you know who you should be targeting with 80% of your Twitter content, the question becomes how to produce better content to get them engaged. There are some tried and true tactics that will help you do this. It can be tough to come up with enough content that isn’t specifically marketing-based, since it’s relatively easy to put up a post about a sale or promotion you have going on. 

Focused Content

As mentioned, there are certain followers who you should be targeting. Once you have all the data you can collect, you can tailor your content towards their interests and what it is they tend to engage with. For instance, if your client base tends to be analytical in nature, then you can post infographics and information-based content. Maybe your business caters to youth. If so, make sure to include photos, memes, and humor. You may need to get some advice from an actual young person to help with this, since you do not want to seem disingenuous. 

If your primary clients are other businesses, then share their content, and highlight some of the things your partners are doing. By shifting the focus to them, you can get those partners to become your biggest champions. 

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

This is especially valuable for local businesses, but it works for large ones as well. Make sure that you understand what people are talking about. Is there something going on in sports, or politics, or with celebrities that your followers may be interested in? You can piggyback on these hot topics to not just engage your followers, but also to showcase your company’s personality and brand. Humor is often a great way to do this. You can post a photo or a meme with a caption or speech bubble that makes fun of a current situation, for example. 

By reading local publications, you can share content that is relevant to your client base. While big events get big headlines, people tend to care most about what is happening near them. If you are local, then do your best to bring things back to content that reflects the people and the issues that are important to them. 

The 80/20 principle can be even more powerful with local businesses, since those 20% might be known in the community and have an even bigger influence on others. On a practical level, finding content from others related to current events can provide you with content as well. It’s very simple to retweet someone else’s content and attach a quick comment to it. 

Create, Create, Create

There is so much you can do to generate interest and engagement on Twitter. If you aren’t a good writer and are handling your company’s social media, don’t worry. You have other options. Create videos and photo opportunities instead. Showcasing your workplace and the personalities of the people who work there can really strengthen your brand. 

Content could be a video of the staff going throughout their day. It could also be some video of your workers helping out at a local soup kitchen. There is so much you can put out yourself that does not take a lot of creativity or even extra time. Simply carrying a camera around the building every once in a while will do it. Try some of these: 

  • A day in the life of your company
  • Candid moments between staff members
  • Employee of the month features

Be Informative

Sometimes, it might seem counterintuitive to be too informative. For instance, you might think that a home services company that gives out tips and advice for keeping the plumbing, HVAC, or electrical systems healthy may be hurting their bottom line. The fewer people who need to have those things fixed, the less business they’d get, right?

Believe it or not, it actually has the opposite effect. Sure, they might be helping people avoid having to make an emergency call in the middle of the night. However, being informative and helpful builds trust. That way, when customers do finally have an issue of some kind (and they will), they will contact the places who have been “helping” them all along. Things that will help with authority include

  • Links to how-to videos
  • Infographics
  • Links to scientific studies
  • Simple photos of your staff at work

Let Your Followers Do the Work

A very tangible way to get your top 20% of customers and followers to further support you is by getting them to do some work for you. Running a contest of some kind can be a great way to engage those valuable clients and also get you some more potentially valuable clients. Perhaps you can offer a prize or bonus to those who refer friends, or who like and share your tweets. You are not only getting the benefit of getting your content out there, but you are also keeping yourself at top of mind to that 20% who already enjoy your product and want to take advantage of your prizes or bonuses. 

Other Engaging Ideas Include: 

  • Asking questions to which your followers can respond or retweet
  • Highlighting employees
  • Do an “Ask Me Anything” Session for an hour a week
  • Post links to demonstrations and product reveals in your industry
  • Simply thank your clients, suppliers, and partners

Being engaging and having others retweet you will help grow your following, and there are directories and services like twiends.com that can help with targeting and reaching those you are missing. It’s a numbers game, and the more people who have eyeballs on your Twitter feed, the more potential customers you will have to hopefully follow-through on an advertising post that’s part of the other 20% of your feed. 

The Other 20%

Then there’s the 20% of posts that will bring in the money. This is where all of that work you’ve already done will be worth it. It should be a delicate balance when crafting these messages to keep them consistent with your brand, but also have a clear call to action. If only 20% of your posts are actively trying to make sales, then there is no room for ambiguity. If the rest of your Twitter presence has been interesting, engaging, and trustworthy, then your customers and potential customers will be more likely to follow along with what you are asking them to do.

Twitter is a powerful tool that allows people and businesses alike to reach more people than ever before, at a very affordable cost. To be successful, you can’t just post sales and promotions. You need to build customer interest and trust by following the 80/20 principle.

Interested in taking your business to the next level? Reach out to us through the form below and let’s help transform your business into a sales machine!



Zack Chambers

Zack Chambers is an expert on Twitter Marketing. Zack is a digital marketer with a focus on Twitter optimization and SEO. He enjoys helping his clients fulfill their dreams through whatever marketing approach can best assist them in their particular situation. In his free time he likes weight lifting and reading just about any book he can get his hands on.

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