My 80/20 Rule

pinterest2I dove into Pinterest this past weekend. I’ve used it for a bit, but like many things social media, my first impulse was “this is fun, but what’s the point?”. And then a few friends talked me through it, and how they find it helpful. And one of the Sisters in Crime New England board members started a SinCNE site, and I tried to help. Turns out that half of the Wicked Cozy Authors already use Pinterest to engage readers with their series in different ways. So I started to poke around a bit. And I noticed that the sites I was most drawn to followed the 80/20 rule.

What, you may ask, is the 80/20 rule? It is simple. My definition in this context is that 80% of your social media use should be about other people (or organizations). 20% can be in service of yourself. Only 20%. 10% would be better.

80-20-ruleSocial media has a lot of uses. While it can be used for marketing, it is more than that. Or different, in that it uses engagement tools to build up networks. And while there might be an “ask” as part of the relationship, there may not be. It may just be a relationship. Each social media platform uses a different “language” around engagement. Pinterest, for example, is like a big scrapbooking party. It is all visual. Twitter is confined to 140 characters. These are both the wild, wild west. You can follow anyone, repin or retweet anything or anyone. Facebook requires you to chose your network (by friending), unless you have a page, which moves it back to the wild, wild west. All of these platforms (and others like Tumblr and Instagram) are about having a conversation of some sort.

Think about that. Conversations. You’re at a cocktail party on the web. The 80/20 rule helps you not be the narcissist that everyone wants to get away from. You know that person. “Me, me, me, what do you think of me?” Or “buy my book, buy my book, buy my book.” Blech.

Wouldn’t you rather talk to the person who says “I read this great article”, “here’s a fun recipe that uses tomatoes”, “how cute is that tiny house?”, “do you have a friend who needs help?”, “have you read this book? I know the author. She’s fab.” And who also likes what you say, repeats it back, writes down your suggestions? Eighty percent about others.

Pay it forward. Be the fun person at the cocktail party.

The one who gets invited back.


J.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes is a mystery writer, ED of StageSource, teacher, arts advocate, and lover of social media.

38 thoughts on “My 80/20 Rule

  1. Fantastic advice, I have a page for my book and business, mobile beauty therapist and I am definitely going to follow this rule from now on, you make a valid point

  2. Reblogged this on heavenhappens and commented:
    I do agree with this very useful guidance on common courtesy on social networks. I don’t use twitter but I love Pinterest. I have found some rather strange boards but if you are selective it can be brilliant. I’ve been looking for home decorating tips and ideas for transforming my very sad garden! I also collect Zentangle patterns and photographs that remind me of places I’ve been. I think the photographers are wonderful to share their pictures-in all Pinterest, like blogging enriches my life. I do plug some of my blog posts too of course!

  3. Great observation…I, too, took a glance at Pinterest – got 100% seduced- and then found a way to weave my blog(s) into the picture – all puns intended.
    As ladies were are taught to be demure, humble and polite…as writers we have to promote ourselves. Marin County’s Pacific Sun just ran a huge article on
    Page Larkin’s Top 10 Pick up Lines – for the Valentines Day issue. Cover story. I am thrilled…and 80% of the time tell peope…if I don’t tell you, who will?
    Self promotion for success.

  4. Haven’t gotten into Pinterest yet. I have signed on and maybe when I have more time, I’ll get more involved. I do Twitter, mostly retweets with a few posts that concern my books or audios, but I love Facebook, love others’ posts and do both posting and commenting. Find your comfort zone. That’s my feeling.

    • Polly, I think that is great advice. There is so much out there, you can go nuts. Between SinCNE and StageSource, I try out a lot of different social media tools, and try to figure out how best to use them. A blessing and a curse.

  5. What a great perspective! I’ve only recently learned about ‘others centred’ social media (from the fabulous Kristen Lamb). But the 80/20 rule kind of ‘clicks’ it for me. I’ll pass this on. Thanks.

  6. Interesting idea. My wife is the one to use Pinterest, but I do like your idea to keep many posts focused on others. It is quite annoying to follow someone on Twitter when they only tweet the link to their book. My favorites are those with tips on writing or little-known hslistorical facts. These actually make me want to get the writer’s book.

  7. Reblogged this on AVY Copy & Editing Service and commented:
    Putting the 80/20 Rule Into Practice!
    “Think about that. Conversations. You’re at a cocktail party on the web. The 80/20 rule helps you not be the narcissist that everyone wants to get away from. You know that person. “Me, me, me, what do you think of me?” Or “buy my book, buy my book, buy my book.” Belch.”

  8. I dislike posters who appear on FB only when they want you to buy something. I have fun with it when I can recount or respond to a funny, quirky story or comment about daily life.

    I’ve just started an experiment on Pinterest of posting real views of the places where I set my books, if people want to add some visual content to what they read. Don’t know yet if it works. (Or what “works” would actually be!)

    When I was a child, my mother always told me that people would like me better if I talked about them rather than myself. True?

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