Fri, July 06 2012

The rule of thirds for social media, marketing and management

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Social Media •

Last night, I was reading an interesting article discussing the social media rule of thirds.  According to Amy Guth:

One third of the time on social media, post about you and/or your brand - sharing your own blog posts, posting updates about you and your organization, etc.

One third of the time on social media, post about your areas of interest and expertise, but using material from an outside source - something you enjoyed reading, blog posts from other bloggers about things that you find compelling, or websites that interest you. (You’ll notice I do a lot of this here on my blog!)

One third of the time on social media, be yourself: Interact, ask questions, answer questions, retweet or repost interesting things people in your network have shared and you will have this part mastered.

I’ve heard this law before, but this framing was especially nice, so I thought I’d share it.

It also got me thinking what other areas of my work deserved rules of thirds.  Here are my thoughts:

As a marketer: Spending one third of the time listening to and understanding my audience, one third of the time on current marketing interactions with them, and one third of the time developing the next products, messages or ideas that will inspire them to achieve their dreams.

As a manager: With the team, spending one third of the time understanding current performance, one third of the time looking at the good and bad outliers for insights, and one third of the time deciding how the needs of our audiences shape what’s next.

As a writer of fiction: Spending one third of the time telling myself I can’t write, one third of the time criticizing what I have written, and one third of the time in happy creative flow.  Hmmm, maybe these thirds need work.

What are your rules of thirds?  I’d love to hear them.

  • Comment: (7)   


Hi there-
I like it. Too often, folks are just posting about their events and the organization…and it gets a bit boring and “static”.

Posted by Judy Anderson  on  07/06  at  10:11 AM

I always love a writing exercise smile Here are my thirds, presented as a new employee:

One third is spent learning the ins and out of the company that I am representing. This includes getting to know my co-workers, procedures, the computer systems, and things of that nature.

One third is spent observing. I am watching how my co-workers tackle daily tasks and what resources they use. I then apply this to my training.

One third is spent practicing what I know. I am assigned small tasks as I am learning how to use the systems, and I am practing these solo. Eventually, I will be doing this on my own.

Posted by Alyssa Hanson  on  07/06  at  02:45 PM

Makes me wonder how I divide my time into 3 parts.  This is a very interesting idea.  Most of the time, we spend our time doing tasks that we have to do because we know that we must do them.  It’s great to divide them accordingly, makes us do our work more systematically.

Posted by Melonie Dodaro  on  07/08  at  10:00 PM

I’m a former broadcaster, and when I see organizations using social media to broadcast, I can’t help but think “You’re doing it wrong.”


Each organization needs to find their own balance, and thirds may not be what works for them, but your theory is right.  Mix it up.

Posted by Tim Johnson  on  07/09  at  10:37 AM

My thirds for copywriting are…
One third of my time is spent writing about my business.
One third of my time is spent writing about other people’s businesses.
One third of my time is spent deciding what to write about.
In my opinion not enough time is given up to thinking of ideas for interesting things to write about. I always make sure I schedule this time in so that when it comes to writing a piece I have in-depth ideas and research I can draw on.

Posted by Sarah Evans  on  07/09  at  11:27 AM

Great article. I’m not far along in a new NFP org and learning about how to market ourselves. It is interesting to read your readers comments too and get their perspective smile

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  09:30 PM

I have found that the rule of the thirds applies to board and volunteer participation as well in non-profits.  1/3 get most of the work done.  Send 1/3 will do work if you prod and 1/3 promise alot and produce little to nothing.  I hadn’t thought about this in things like social media but think you are on to something.

Posted by Jane Ratzlaff  on  08/08  at  03:59 PM

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