We Broke The 80/20 Rule On Twitter And Here’s What Happened

A few months ago, we posted a blog about the 80/20 rule on social media. While we won’t go into depth explaining the philosophy again, here’s a little summary; the 80/20 rule of social media stipulates that 80% of the time, brands should share content from other sources in their posts and the other 20% of the time, brands should create and share original content.

This rule is an effective way for most organizations, from associations to small businesses, to plan their content, engage audiences, connect with key influencers, build their following and drive traffic to their accounts and website.

While this method has been proven successful many times over, it’s difficult to highlight the contrast in results between one thing and another without giving equal looks at each side of the argument. So, we did a little experiment.

Breaking The Rules

We decided to go the opposite direction of the 80/20 rule and tweet Incline Marketing content almost exclusively for two weeks. To be exact, out of 22 tweets between May 9 and May 23, 14 of them were contained content created by and branded for Incline Marketing. This resulted in a 65/35 ratio between Incline content and shared content.

We analyzed the engagement data from this period and compared it to the data from the two weeks previous to the test weeks. The previous two weeks, wherein we conformed to a slightly modified 80/20 rule, yielded 31 tweets, where 40% of tweets contained Incline created and/or branded content and 60% did not. After analyzing the data and comparing the two weeks, here is what we found.

The Results

The first statistic we examined was impressions or the total reach of our tweets. The pre-experiment tweets (hereafter referred to as the Normal Results or Normal Tweets) generated 237 impressions per tweet (7,360 in total), while the experiment tweets (hereafter referred to as the Experiment Results or Experiment Tweets) generated only 178 impressions per tweet (3,832 in total). This is a 25% drop in reach, which is fairly steep and can affect your organizations marketing efforts and bottom line. To look into why exactly this happened, the next thing we did was analyze the engagement results.

When we put the engagement results under the microscope, specifically the number of likes, retweets and mentions, we found that the Experiment Tweets outperformed the Normal Tweets by 34%. However, upon a closer review, the Normal Tweets outpaced the Experiment Tweets by 24% when it came to the number of times someone shared our tweets/content through a retweet or a link in a post.

The discrepancy in these results can be explained by the large number of favourites received by the Experiment Tweets compared to the Normal Tweets (the Experiment Tweets were liked at a rate if 128% higher than the Normal Tweets). While the Incline content provided during the experiment was valued by Twitter users, as evidenced by the likes, it was not shared and thus, its reach remained limited. Because the Incline Twitter account shared a larger quantity of other accounts’ content during the pre-experiment period, these tweets were shared by the original creators of the content. Furthermore, these original creators were more likely to share Incline content to return the favour. All this resulted in a higher reach and more quality engagement during the pre-experiment phase.

Another stark difference between the Normal Results and the Experiment Results was seen in the account’s audience acquisition statistics. During the period of Normal Tweets, the Incline account gained 8 followers. During the period of Experiment Tweets, the account actually lost 3 followers. The 11 follower swing could not only help account for the slide in account’s reach, but is also a dangerous indicator of the account’s value in the eyes of valuable demographics and key influencers. The reason for this drop; no one likes to talk to someone who only talks about themselves, which is exactly what we were doing during the Experiment period. People most likely got fed up with the constant self promotion and left.

It wasn’t all bad news for the Experiment Results. When we looked at website traffic for the Normal and Experiment period, we found that more people visited the Incline Marketing website during the Experiment period than the Normal period, both in terms of total visits (186 vs. 166 visits) and visits via Twitter (0.68 visits/tweet vs. 0.65 visits/tweet). Furthermore, the conversion rate between impression and website visits was significantly higher for the Experiment Tweets than the Normal Tweets (3.9% vs. 2.7%). The shear amount of avenues we were providing between Twitter and our website worked to increase the flow of traffic to the site and open the door for key influencers to explore what we have to offer.

Key Takeaways

  • Breaking the 80/20 rule resulted in a smaller reach, a reduction in the account’s audience and fewer high-quality engagements
  • However, breaking the 80/20 also led to more engagement in general and more traffic to the website.
  • In conclusion, if web traffic is your main goal, try living on the dangerous side and flip that 80/20 rule on its head. If you want to build an audience, have high-quality engagement while still driving some traffic to your site, stick with the 80/20 rule or some version of that method.

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