The rule of thirds for your social media strategy Skip to the content

The rule of thirds for your social media strategy

Have you heard of the rule of thirds before? Perhaps you’ve heard of it from a photographers perspective? That’s where I first learned the term. In photography terms the rule of thirds helps you frame out your shot in the most interesting way. Rather than having your subject portrayed in the dead center of the shot it’s a matter of slicing the frame into thirds and using it to frame the shot in a more interesting perspective. I have a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge hanging in my hallway and it is visually interesting because of this principal.


The rule of thirds for your social media strategy is different but it essentially serves to accomplish the same goal, which is to make your company more appealing by being more interesting.  For your social media strategy, think of your content as being in 3 buckets that all have a common mission. In this case that mission is to increase your fan base and engagement levels.


One third of your content should be about your brand and your company. One third should be about your industry, your field, or things in related areas that are from an outside source. One third should be fluff.


Let’s break each of these areas down.


1The first third is talking about you and your company. Social media provides a great platform to talk about our businesses but if you do it too much it, it becomes out of balance and turn people off. This is why it must be only a third of what you do. In my case this one third of my content might be asking you to read a new blog post, attend my upcoming webinar or check out my book. These are things that are specific to my business that I am calling your attention to. For a business such as a dentist or eye doctor, this may look like specials or promotions you are highlighting in your business. Free consultations on Invisalign or buy a pair of glasses get the second half off.


2The second third is about things that are happening in your industry, in your field or in related areas. In my business I post a lot about what is happening in the LGBT equality movement at large. I’ll share content about marriage equality or the news of a new WNBA player coming out of the closet. This is stuff related to the LGBT community that is relevant but the posts are not linking back to my website they are linking elsewhere. For the dentist or eye doctor this could be talking about an organization that you are involved in, such as a pro-sports team or a local shelter. Perhaps you are partnering with one of these kinds of organizations to deliver necessary care as part of a larger project. While you are talking about your involvement with these organizations the focus is really on those other organizations. This is a solid way to create goodwill in the greater community in which you serve.


Three Things we know about Jodie FosterThe third third is what I like to call “fluff.” It’s the lighter and airy side of things that show people that there are humans behind the company’s social media page. People do business with people not companies is often an expression you’ll hear in business. This is true in social media. People want to know that there is a person behind the messages on Twitter and on Facebook. So you want to throw in things about yourself, your employees or things happening that you can engage your audience in. Asking questions is a good way to do that. For example I might post something like, my wedding anniversary is coming up – should I be romantic and get her roses or practical and get her the new sneakers she’s been eying up? It shows a personal side of who you are and let’s people know that you are no different than they are. It makes you relatable. I find that I naturally talk about my kids in conversation. They do some pretty hilarious things. For example when my son pulled all the keys off of our laptop and proudly exclaimed “Mommy, I found your letters.” It gives a glimpse into my life, makes me relatable and has further solidified that a real person is behind the scenes. And it gives the audience a good laugh every now and then.


Example of rule of thirds in photography
Example of rule of thirds in photography

The rule of thirds is really a way of organizing your content so you are showing a robust view of who you are, who your business is, and that you are like those reading your content. Think about a recent business conversation or interaction you’ve had. If the entire conversation was someone talking 100% about how great they are, how would you feel when you walked away? Probably not good and you probably wouldn’t be thinking of that person in the best light. There is a give and take that happens naturally in conversation. That same give and take should be applied in your online marketing endeavors.


Finally, to really stand out in the crowd on any social network you need to be engaging. You can’t really just throw a thought, idea or post out there and have people commenting on it and then not respond to it. People are commenting on it because they want to engage with you. If you never respond they’ll take the hint you are interested and soon they won’t engage at all.


How is your rule of third strategy working? Are you finding success in it? Or is this your first time giving it any thought? Either way, let me know, I’d love to hear from you!


About Jenn T. Grace

Jenn T. Grace (she/her/hers) is an award-winning author and founder and CEO of Publish Your Purpose (PYP), the acclaimed hybrid publisher of non-fiction books. Jenn has published nearly 200 books written by thought leaders, visionaries, and entrepreneurs who are striving to make a difference. Jenn T. Grace’s work elevates and amplifies the voices of others—especially marginalized groups who are regularly excluded from traditional publishing.

2 comments to " The rule of thirds for your social media strategy "

  • Suz Ashley

    I am familiar with using the rule of thirds from an artistic perspective, as you mentioned, Jenn, but have not heard it applied to Social Media. Typically, I post eight interesting or informative items then send out two plugs for my business. The rule of thirds seems to be more advantageous from a business perspective. I will give it a go and see what happens.

  • Hey Suz – it seems like you are starting off right with your 8-2 ratio. I think as long as the ratio is more of you providing value and having conversations with people versus directly trying to sell you are in good shape. Many people have it backwards and they are full force selling and not engaging in dialogue. Potential customers will see right through it. 🙂

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