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Applying the 80/20 Rule to Engage Your Audience Online

With Twitter and Facebook (literally) at our fingertips, it’s so easy to just spew out a mishmash of updates and a continuous stream of our random thoughts, whereabouts, quirky photos, and rants to our followers and friends all day, everyday.  On the flip side, there are those who constantly push their products, services, or themselves (gag + unfollow) 24/7.  But if you pay close attention to those people that you love to follow, and those who are professional social media users, there may be a bit of method to their madness.  There’s a little something called The 80/20 Rule that just may help you structure your conversations online to both develop meaningful relationships and contribute to your bottom line in the process. 

The premise of the The 80/20 Rule is simple: 80% of your tweets and updates should be geared towards engaging your audience; the remaining 20% should be geared towards generating business for your blog or business. Sounds easy enough, right?

1.  Engage Your Audience {the 80 percent}. Here’s where you can give your followers and friends a glimpse into the person behind the blog.  Share tidbits about your day, offer your opinion on current events, upload photos of your adorable kiddos (if you’re comfortable with that).  People will enjoy getting to know you and establishing a connection.

More importantly, spend time providing value.  Balancing your personal updates with useful information is what will separate you from those zillion other tweeters and fan pages out there.  Share nuggets of wisdom for your niche; point folks to insightful articles or posts; publish networking or event opportunities.  Doing these things will help you establish yourself as a go-to resource for valuable information.

Remember that it’s a two-way street!  Use this time to learn about your friends and followers as well.  Ask questions.  Take polls. Throw out an idea for feedback.  People love to be asked their opinions on things.  By soliciting advice or insights, you’ll be engaging your readers and developing a valuable rapport.  If you spend the bulk of your time online in a two-way conversation, you’ll be able to seamlessly and genuinely…

2.  Generate Business for your blog or business {the 20 percent}. Taking deliberate steps to drive traffic to your blog or to drum up revenue for your business is what makes the hours spent in online conversations worth your while.  This might entail you promoting a special or deal that you are running on your site.  Or it could be selling tickets to an event that you’re hosting.  Whatever the case may be, making the sell to your followers and friends won’t be offensive or disingenuous because of the foundation that you’ve already built and the value that you’ve already provided to them.

Of course the 80/20 Rule is just a guideline that’s been floated around web – my suggestion would be to find the right mix that works for you and your audience.  The bottom line is to find a healthy balance: a Twitter stream filled with useless drivel will hold people’s interest for only so long, and a inactive (or worse, annoying!) Facebook feed will only cause folks to “unlike” it or “hide” it from their feed.

Strive to give value and your audience will return the favor!

 

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