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Updated Mar 19, 2024

The 5:3:2 Rule for Social Media Explained

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Jennifer Dublino, Contributing Writer

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Social media marketing can play a huge role in drawing audiences to your brand. However, to attract and retain loyal followers, your social media posts must contain the right content mix.

Consumers are drawn to brands that add value to their lives with a social content mix that entertains, interests, informs and engages. While brands ultimately want to sell products and services, they’ll lose followers if they relentlessly promote and sell. To engage followers and build your brand, consider using the 5:3:2 rule in your social media content.

What is the 5:3:2 rule for social media?

The 5:3:2 rule for business social media content is about striking the right balance while engaging your audience and selling products via social media.

In the 5:3:2 rule, for every 10 posts, focus on the following category breakdown:

  • Curation: Five posts should be content from other sources relevant to your audience. This is known as curation.
  • Creation: Three posts should be content you’ve created that’s relevant to your audience.
  • Humanization: Two posts out of 10 should be personal, fun content that humanizes your brand to your audience.

Each aspect of the 5:3:2 rule focuses on your audience, not your brand. We’ll explore each facet to see how each post type can engage your followers and help you improve your social media presence.

Fifty percent of posts should focus on curation.

You should curate most of your social media posts from other places and sources relevant to your niche and target audience. But how do you know what’s relevant to your audience?

To understand your audience, spend time reading industry news and participating in conversations about subject areas that interest them. Talk to your customers, salespeople and customer service reps to identify genuine customer questions and interests. Sharing content relevant and specific to your industry will show that you have your finger on the pulse of your audience’s concerns.

The following tools can help you curate content for your social media channels:

  • Feedly
  • Storify
  • Quora
  • Pinterest
  • Hootsuite

These aren’t the only curation tools, but they’re a good starting point. Whatever you post should be helpful and shareable; it must also be relevant to your niche and audience.

TipBottom line

When posting curated content to your website or business blog, add personal commentary about why you chose it and why the subject matter is essential or interesting to the audience.

Thirty percent of posts should be original content.

Next, spend time creating your own content, blending promotional and informational material. Try to avoid the hard sell; if you come on too strong, your follower list will likely shrink, and you may even get some nasty comments. It’s crucial to publish helpful and shareable pieces, which will ultimately draw more people to your brand.

Social media is all about attracting your target audience, and posting valuable content is an excellent way to appeal to potential customers. You can also try varying your content to keep things interesting for your followers. 

Here are some original content types to consider:

Here’s an example of varied original content, including an infographic:

graphic of varied content examples

Promotional content is part of this 30 percent category. If you’re having a sale or focusing on a specific social media campaign, let customers know about it. Build an online community by offering specialized promotions and events just for your customers and followers.

TipBottom line

Use emojis in your posts. According to Adobe, 44 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase something if it’s advertised with emojis.

Twenty percent of posts should humanize your brand.

Posts that humanize you and your team can bring your brand to life and show your audience that you’re not just a faceless corporation trying to sell to them.

This content type can show off your shining personality or silly sense of humor. These posts can relate to your industry or be completely random just to keep people on their toes.

Innocent Smoothies excels in this area. Dogs that look like Chewbacca have nothing to do with smoothie making and drinking, but it’s funny and encourages interaction with the audience.

example of random social media posts. dogs who look like Chewbaccaexample of random social media posts. Dogs who look like Chewbacca

Random posts like this are fine if you strike the right balance. The result will likely be more followers who keep coming back to see what other fun stuff you post while also discovering valuable content.

When sharing this type of content, ensure two main things:

  • It’s the kind of fun that your audience likes.
  • It shows off your personality.

Another form of humanization is showcasing your employees and their stories and highlighting company operations, especially if you make handmade items and can share how your company gives back to the community.

Did You Know?Did you know

Creating humanizing posts is an excellent digital marketing strategy to establish a company’s authenticity.

What are the benefits of following the 5:3:2 rule?

Each content type has unique benefits, and the ratio adds more advantages.

Posting curated content does the following:

  • It positions you as an expert in your industry.
  • It shows that you understand customers and their needs.
  • It demonstrates that you keep up to date on your industry.
  • It can get you backlinks from the sources you link to.
  • It is easy and inexpensive since you just need to find content others have created.

Posting created content does the following:

  • It gives you control over what is said and how it is said.
  • It shows that you are a participant rather than a bystander in the industry.
  • It showcases your expertise directly.
  • It allows you to engage your audience and boost your reputation.

Posting human interest content does the following:

  • It puts a human face to the company so customers can form an attachment.
  • It entertains followers and keeps them coming back.
  • It is very shareable, especially if it’s humorous or surprising.
  • It demonstrates and reinforces your brand, values and culture while helping you tell your brand’s story.

Posting in this ratio does the following:

  • It creates the right blend of seriousness and a more laid-back attitude.
  • It intrigues and attracts new followers.
  • It retains existing followers.
  • It allows you to post shareable content but doesn’t veer into clickbait territory.

The 5:3:2 rule is an excellent rule of thumb, regardless of your platform.

Managing your social media content

While following the 5:3:2 rule, staying on top of your social media presence is essential to ensure timely, consistent posting and responses to followers.

Fortunately, excellent online tools can help you discover, monitor and manage content effortlessly. Consider the following platforms:

  • Buffer: Buffer gives you tools to plan, collaborate on and publish content. It will also help you optimize your content and publishing schedule and suggest channels and hashtags to get the most out of your social posts.
  • Hootsuite: Hootsuite was one of the first social media management software platforms, so it has robust management tools. In addition to attractive content creation, it can show you your digital marketing ROI in detail, increase your reach and manage your social media in one place with a universal inbox.
  • SocialPilot: SocialPilot makes having a social media strategy team with experts covering specific roles easy and affordable. For example, a writer, graphic designer and social media manager can collaborate seamlessly. Plans start at $25 per month, and there’s a free trial, so it’s a good solution for smaller businesses.
  • Sprout Social: Sprout Social lets you work with various social platforms, including Pinterest (which is not included in many other social media management software offerings). It integrates with Salesforce, Shopify, Marketo and many more. In addition to content creation, analytics and management, you can listen to social chatter to gain valuable insights and help employee brand ambassadors more easily spread the word.

Remember that your social media presence is there to engage your audience. Try to strike a balance in your shared content, avoid the hard sell, and focus on valuable, interesting and fun material. Your goal is to humanize your brand and generate audience interest and interaction.

author image
Jennifer Dublino, Contributing Writer
Jennifer Dublino is a prolific researcher, writer, and editor, specializing in topical, engaging, and informative content. She has written numerous e-books, slideshows, websites, landing pages, sales pages, email campaigns, blog posts, press releases and thought leadership articles. Topics include consumer financial services, home buying and finance, general business topics, health and wellness, neuroscience and neuromarketing, and B2B industrial products.
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