Every Time You Mention Your Product A Kitten Dies: The 5:3:2 Social Selling Rule

5 3 2 social sharing

Ok, maybe a kitten doesn’t die but your social selling will suffer if you just keep mentioning your product or services on social networks.

The primary aim for sales people when they participate on social networks should be to build trust and relationships, not to promote their brand. This means sharing things of value to your audience.

The launch of your latest product feature isn’t news and it probably isn’t that valuable to potential buyers, however fascinating it may be to you. Content that might be valuable could include the latest industry news, trends or surveys or an interesting case study or a practical ‘how to’ post. None of which may be published by your company, as you do not have a monopoly on good ideas.

What to Share?

The simple answer is to share things that are helpful and of interest to your potential buyers. You can start by understanding what keeps them awake at night or the questions they need answers to. 

Get informed about the questions your customers are asking by:

  • Talking to your support staff
  • Checking out common questions asked on Google on Answer The Public
  • Reviewing real questions asked on any topic across thousands of forums on Bloomberry

The 5:3:2 Rule

You might have heard of the 5:3:2 rule in social media sharing, it suggests that you should follow a rule of thumb for the content you share:

  • 50% should be curated from third party sources relevant to your audience
  • 30% should be content you’ve created, relevant to your brand and your audience
  • 20% should be content that’s more personal: fun, inspirational, human interest

So broadly following that guideline, half of what you share should be curated content from third party sources. As Joe Pulizzi put it: “Every time you mention your own product, a kitten dies”. (Well, at least try keep the count down to 3 in 10…)

Discovering Relevant Content

So based on 5:3:2, the bulk of what you share should be relevant third party content. But what is the most efficient way of doing this? You could use a range of sources to discover the most relevant content for your audience, content such as:

  • Industry sites
  • Competitor sites
  • RSS feeds
  • LinkedIn groups
  • Twitter lists
  • Google news

However, it can be time consuming checking these multiple sources every day. An alternative is to use RSS aggregators such as Feedly, or a tool such as Anders Pink that will allow you to create a curated daily briefing using multiple sources such as domains, RSS feeds, Twitter lists and simple keyword search filters.

Here is an example Anders Pink feed of articles about social selling. You can save yourself time by using these tools to help you curate third party content and to ensure at least 50% of what you are sharing is valuable and relevant.

Machines Aggregate and Filter, Humans Curate

A word of warning: An automated feed will help you filter relevant posts from the millions published every day. However, you still need to decide what articles to curate. Do not automatically share content from a feed, ever. Every time you share something automatically without reading and validating it, 10 kittens die.

Tools help with aggregation and filtering, but only humans can truly curate, make sense of articles, add context, and share with the right people, at the right time, in the right channels. You should review and curate from the feed to select articles that are most relevant to your audience and add some further value by commenting or adding context. It also allows you to add some personality to your sharing. Adding personality helps your prospects to remember you, and come to expect a tone of voice or an angle when you share content with them. It’s all part of building your brand through social selling. As SAP put it – it’s not about talking about yourself, it’s about listening to your buyers, understanding them, and being helpful. That’s what sells.

No kittens were harmed in the writing of this post.