I was that kid who loved rules. Rules made life easier. Rules told me what to do. Rules, in my world, were often meant to be broken.
But more importantly, rules are a great place to start when you’re in a weird alternate universe where everyone else seems to know how to act and what to say.
Rules bring calm to scary situations, and where is scarier than your business’ Facebook page, IG account, and LinkedIn company profile?
Here you will find the Social Media Rules of Engagement you need to follow in order to calm the chaos, fuel your creativity, and make the most of your time, money, and sanity.
Three Scroll Rule (TSR) states that no matter the device, the medium, or the platform you must showcase all aspects of what you do within three scrolls (of a thumb on a phone, on a trackpad, with a mouse).
You only have three scrolls to convince prospective clients to continue looking at you. If your business has multiple aspects, the TSR is even more crucial. Example: a local photographer once asked me to audit his social media and tell him why he wasn’t getting any wedding bookings. I checked him out and saw that his Facebook and Instagram feeds were…dogs. Lots of dogs. Dogs on roads, dogs in baskets, dogs asleep, dogs leaping into waves. Dogs. So. Many. Dogs. Six scrolls of dogs, in fact.
Gee, I wonder why brides to be weren’t knocking down his door?
If you sell more than one thing, and especially if you sell to more than one market, your feeds and pages need to reflect the entirety of your offerings.
Ok, but HOW? That’s a job for the miraculous CONTENT CALENDAR. You can set plan out posts that will cover the full gamut of who you are, what you do, and why you should be doing it for them – lather/rinse/repeat forever.
The Rule of Thirds (ROT) deals with the balancing of content as well, and works in conjunction with the TSR. When people visit a Facebook page, Instagram account, LinkedIn account/profile/company page, Twitter account, or whatever they want to see a variety of types of content. Those who fill their pages with shares of articles, retweets, memes, etc. are only hitting one type of content…and they get boring fast.
The ROT is a cheat sheet when you’ve got your CONTENT CALENDAR in front of you and you’re drawing a blank:
1/3 product/service selling
1/3 articles from your website
Simply speaking, this formula ensures that your website will be promoted properly, that your products and services will be hyped on the regular, and that your audience won’t be bored. WIN-WIN-WIN, non?
So grab your CONTENT CALENDAR and get planning.
The Placement Rule (TPR) is all about advertising. For some godforsaken reason, sidebar ads are still a thing. They’re cheap (because they don’t work) and they’re available (because people refuse to believe they don’t work) and because platforms are dedicated to wringing out every last ad dollar from every pixel they present their users (whether the ads work or not).
Ads work most often by the function of “creating positive memories and feelings that influence our behavior over time to encourage us to buy something at a later date” (Credit: The Atlantic). Sidebar ads are too short and too small to do that, so they’re relying on impulse and remarketing strategy to do the heavy lifting. It doesn’t.
So what does work? Creative, meaningful ads.
Creating ads that looks and feel like real content…because they are real content. Putting time, effort, and yes money, into creating beautiful ads will give you better ROI, and give your audience another reason to love you.
What works the best? Infomarketing.
Infomarketing tricks your brain into not seeing the marketing behind the info because it looks like a piece of information you actually want. It has value and beauty, and leads you effortlessly and happily down the sales funnel without you even noticing. The only real indicator that we have on LinkedIn or Facebook that we’re seeing an infomarketing ad (if it’s done well) is that “Sponsored” tag at the top of the post – but we’ve become so inured to that tag that hardly anyone even sees it anymore.
The closer the placement and the visual impact of the ad is to the audience’s natural choice of viewing, the better you’ll fare. Which leads us to…
The Media Rank Rule is great news for people who don’t love words…and more than a bit irritating for those of us with mild scopophobia (that’s the phobia of being looked at).
The MRR states that there is more value in video than in still images, and more power in still images than in text-only messages (but what about quote memes tho? I looooove me some quote memes!)
If you want your message to have the greatest impact, create a quick video, do a FB or IG Live, and post it before you pick it apart. We forgive mistakes in video more quickly than we do in images and text as well (I’m assuming because we all accept that video is SO HARD OMG WHY DO YOU PEOPLE LOVE IT SO MUCH?!)
Sorry. This is a rule I hate.
For medium-impact messaging, use an image. Images still rank high in audience interest, and if you can’t get on video immediately because you’re having a bad hair day or your face is stupid today (my 2 go-to excuses) then an image will do ok. Not as good as video, but ok.
For low-impact messages, use text only. Using text cuts down on your audience by a LOT. (And bonus hint: if you want to *really* hide a message like bad company news or upcoming downsizing, put it in an all-text email and call it “Newsletter”…guaranteed no one will ever see it. Mostly not kidding.
The Law of Reciprocity is the EMPRESS OF ALL RULES, so I have deemed it a law. It is the Holy Grail. When this rule is implemented on the regular, kittens learn to sing and angels get their wings.
TRR is how we put the “social” back in “social media.” It means to give before taking and it also means to actively seek out and give back to those who’ve supported you. (It has been denigrated as “like4like” which it is not. Like4Like, or blindly supporting people in order to get something from them is fake, false, and hopefully will be going the way of the dodo.)
TRR means that if someone takes the time to comment on your post, to ask a question, to send you a message, you respond in kind and then you seek out their game and see how you can be a cheerleader right back.
You know that warm, fuzzy feeling when a celeb retweets you or your high school crush double clicks your IG post? Give that feeling to everyone that gives it to you, and watch your karma, your engagements, and your business soar.
Engagement pods are one way to codify TRR, as long as you truly support, buy from, and believe in the people in your pod. In an engagement pod situation, a group on non-competitive businesses come together and agree to hype each other’s content by comments, likes, shares, shared posts and lives, and the list goes on. While the reciprocity in pods isn’t as authentic as seeking out current supporters, as long as you truly value those you’re hyping, it’s all good.
And now, as Picasso said (according to the internet), you’ve learned the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. For me, that means one more possible excuse to stay away from the damn video camera.