Understanding what you’re going to publish on social media starts with a content strategy. As we covered earlier in this guide, content is the fuel that you will use to engage with your audience. In this section, we’ll examine how to develop an editorial calendar that’s engaging.

As you assess and develop content for social media, it’s important to think about it in a framework of how you will distribute it. One example of a common framework that is used on social media is the 4-1-1 rule. At Marketo, for example, we not only aim to share valuable content for our audience, but focus on educating and providing value first and selling second. Because of this philosophy, we follow a 4-1-1 rule. This rule states that for every four educational or entertaining posts (infographic, blog, awareness-level ebook), you can share one soft/midlevel promotion (a more solution-focused asset) and one hard/late-stage promotion (a demo, for example).

This mix allows you to offer value that far outweighs the sales element of your mid- and late- stage promotions and educates and entertains your audience so they are more welcoming to the later stage messages when you do share them. We’ve found that this approach works in email marketing, on our blog, and in social media marketing. It lets us engage in conversations with our audience and build awareness, credibility, and trust and keep in touch with our followers—without coming across as pushy or sales-y. So even if one of your top priorities is “announcing new products,” we don’t recommend limiting your posts to only information about your new releases. Likewise, if you want to acquire new customers on social, it’s still not the best venue for advertising deals.

You can certainly mention promotions on occasion, but do so with caution. Your audience’s trust— ultimately your most powerful selling tool—hangs in the balance.