As a business owner, you are probably already aware that posting regularly to all of your business social media channels is an essential component of your digital marketing strategy. But do you plan your social media content in advance? Or do you have a tendency to post at random?

If you don’t carefully consider how and when to publish blogs, photos, and ads, you run the risk of wasting all of your carefully curated content. The first step to planning out a content calendar involves determining your social media content ratio.

Curious about what a content ratio is and how to use it? Our Social Local team at VitalStorm is here to explain.

What is A Social Media Content Ratio?

Sometimes business owners unintentionally treat business social media pages just like their own personal profiles. While posting pictures, videos, and articles on the fly without thinking ahead is normal for a personal social media account, a savvy business owner knows it is not the best practice for their business pages. Following a strategy is a much more effective way to cultivate engagement, and eventually real leads. This strategy is where the content ratio comes in.

A content ratio determines how often you will post a few different types of content.

By regulating the frequency of each different type of post, the ratio ensures that your business pages won’t spam your followers with countless ads and promotions. There are several popular content ratios, but we recommend abiding by the 4-1-1 rule.

The 4-1-1 Rule

The 4-1-1 rule breaks down your content into three different categories: relevant content, re-shared content, and promotional content.

  • Relevant content is anything that would be relevant to your followers and potential customers. It can be entertaining or informative, but it can’t exist solely for the purpose of promoting your business.
  • Re-shared content is anything that you didn’t create. It can be an article from an outside source or a picture from a satisfied customer. The point is that the content did not originate from any of your business channels.
  • Promotional content is anything that advertises your business. It can be a coupon, pictures of a new product, or simply an explanation of services. It is a self-serving post that exists to point potential customers directly to your business.

To follow the 4-1-1 rule, you must break down your content like this: 4 Pieces of Relevant Content, 1 Piece of Reshared Content, 1 Promotional Post. That does not mean you need to publish those types of content in that particular order. It just means you are adhering to a content ratio when you plan ahead.

When you create your content calendar for each month, make sure for every promotional post there are at least four posts with relevant content and one re-shared post from an outside source.

Why Follow A Social Media Content Ratio?

Now that you understand what a social media content ratio is and how to use it, you might be curious about why it matters. Will all of the planning and strategizing actually pay off?

The reason that content ratios like the 4-1-1 rule are so effective is that they place the focus of your content on customer needs instead of on company needs.

To better understand this, look at social media from a consumer’s perspective. When you scroll through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, are you looking for business promotions? Or are you curious about what your friends and family are up to?

The reality is that people use social media to be entertained or informed. Promotions from businesses interrupt their entertainment, the same way commercials interrupt your favorite cable TV show. But if you balance out your promotional content with content that is inherently relevant to your followers, you create a better impression of your brand and business. This makes them more receptive to your purely promotional posts.

Content that entertains or informs your audience creates an atmosphere of authenticity and humanizes your business. It also encourages more engagement, establishes a brand presence, and indirectly improves your search engine rankings.


When you focus on entertaining or informing your audience, your followers are more likely to engage. Funny posts featuring a trending topic or educational posts featuring a helpful tip are more shareable than a basic advertisement post. Thanks to your content ratio, the majority of your posts will be more engaging.


Creating cohesive content with your brand colors and logo will subtly familiarize followers with your business without smacking them in the face. Adopting a particular tone and adhering to brand guidelines in your photos and graphics contribute to your overall brand storytelling strategy. Your content ratio is an essential part of this process.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

When your social media content is both engaging and branded, it can make a positive impact on your search engine ranking. As your posts are shared more frequently and your brand becomes increasingly recognizable, people will be more likely to search for your business’ name alongside keywords related to your industry.

When Google’s algorithm continues to receive search queries in your industry with your brand name attached, it will start ranking pages on your website higher for those search terms. This happens very gradually, but it hinges on the quality and popularity of your initial social media content.

Brainstorming Social Media Content Ideas

You might be convinced about the benefits of the 4-1-1 content ratio, but you might also be skeptical about creating such a high volume of “relevant” content. But if you use your imagination, you might be surprised at how many content ideas you can brainstorm! Here are a few pointers to help you get started.

Ideas for Entertaining Social Media Content

  • Celebrate National Holidays

And we don’t just mean the big ones like Halloween or Independence Day. You can find wacky national holidays for everything from LED lightbulbs to blueberry muffins to your favorite furry friends. Use websites like National Day Calendar to help you plan ahead for holidays relevant to your brand or industry.

  • Talk About a Trending Topic

Pay attention to trending hashtags. If any of them are related to your industry, join the conversation with your own post. Discussing a trending topic with your followers is one of the most effective ways to encourage their participation. Just remember to steer clear of polarizing or political topics that might alienate members of your audience.

  • Share Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Letting your audience peek behind the scenes of your business is a strategy that humanizes your brand. Instead of only associating your brand with words and graphics, your followers will associate it with real human beings and real products or services.

Ideas for Informative Social Media Content

  • Offer A Tip

It can be exhausting to keep a steady stream of entertaining content flowing. But one thing you have in abundance as a business is industry expertise. Your followers will appreciate genuinely useful information that they can apply to their lives and homes immediately. Sharing your knowledge with them for free make them more likely to spend money with your business later.

  • Share A Testimonial

Many people seek out opinions from other customers before they make a purchase or schedule a service. Build up some trust with your followers by highlighting a positive review from a satisfied customer. Copy and paste the text from your testimonial into a graphic with your brand colors so that the post will be both informative and visually appealing.

  • Post Industry News

Keeping your followers informed about your industry further establishes your expertise. It also helps them to better understand the products and services you offer. You can either update your website’s own blog with newsworthy posts, or share posts from reputable news sources.

Ideas for Promotional Social Media Content

  • Advertise A Discount

When you do post promotional content, make sure it packs a punch. Shares from your audience are more likely to turn into leads if customers feel like they are taking advantage of a discount. Promote your services with coupons or special offers only available to followers on social media to further incentivize your audience to keep following along.

  • Use Social Stories

If you want to publish promotional content a little bit more frequently than the 4-1-1 ratio allows, try utilizing the social stories feature on Facebook and Instagram. Highlight new products, promote a discount for only 24 hours, or go live and encourage your audience to tune in.

Is Your Business Following the Best Social Media Content Ratio?

If you aren’t using the 4-1-1 rule or a similar ratio to plan your social media content, you might be publishing too many promotional posts and overwhelming your followers. Finding the right balance for your content might seem daunting at first, but the results will speak for themselves.

Once you start creating content with your customer’s point of view in mind, it becomes easier to intuitively predict which posts will be the most engaging.

If you need some more assistance brainstorming relevant content for your calendar, check out these 12 ideas on our blog. If you are searching for social media strategists to help take your local business to the next level, call our team at VitalStorm.

Are you interested in learning more about content rules and ratios for effective social media marketing? Our Social Local team at VitalStorm can help. To experience the benefits of a social media strategy for your business, give us a call at 877-311-5695.

To learn more right away about how your business can benefit from social media marketing, check out our free eBook, Social Media Marketing for Home Services.