“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively” Dalai Lama


Social media has evolved considerably over the past few years, in a way that nobody could’ve possibly predicted. Following the success of so many brands, the unwritten rules of social media became best practices and now strict guidelines to follow.

Sure, if you follow these rules you will have social media success, as they were thoroughly tested and proved successful by others. But to have an outstanding online presence you should not be afraid to risk breaking commandments.

It’s not easy though, it requires that you think, test, be patient and take chances that may not be successful. If you’re ready and willing to give it a try, go ahead and get outside your comfort zone by breaking one of these rules:

Rule #1: Don’t post too often and don’t repeat posts

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should start spamming your audience. What I’m saying by breaking this rule is that you should not be afraid to repeat your social updates to increase the chance of reaching new people. You don’t even have to repeat your post exactly the same. You can play with the wording, the pictures or the hashtags. You can share a quote or you can change your call to action. This way you can test different approaches and see which one gets the most clicks to further improve your strategy.

Why? Every day, on average, people post around 500 million messages on Twitter. Let that sink in for a moment. Even though, unlike Facebook, Twitter shows every message without applying any filtering algorithm, if your readers are not online the moment you share a post, they will not see it.

Everything is happening so fast that even Twitter suggests repeating your posts to reach a larger audience: “we saw that brands that tweet two to three times per day can typically reach an audience size that’s equal to 30% of their follower base during a given week.”

So, if you want your messages to reach your audience, don’t be afraid to repeat your posts.

“Social media “experts” recommend not posting too often–and certainly not repeating posts. Let’s just say that I disagree based on my experience. “- Guy Kawasaki

Rule #2: Not every social network is best for your company

We agree that you don’t have to be present on every social network out there. But, that doesn’t mean that you should limit yourself to Facebook or Twitter just because that’s what everybody in your niche does.

You might think that your business can’t have a presence on Pinterest or Instagram because you don’t have enough visual content to keep your followers engaged. But, if you’re creative enough you can make Pinterest work even for the most “boring” niches. You can share infographics, famous quotes or statistics in your industry just to name a few. You can have your Instagram account filled with “backstage” photos of your employees or inspirational quotes or even photos with your customers enjoying your products to show the human side of your brand.

Don’t be afraid to stand out! Instead of trying to follow the rules, you should focus on getting to know your customers and the social places they love and use. That’s where you should be too.

Rule #3: Limit yourself to 2 or 3 hashtags per post

A hashtag acts like a bookmark for all your online prospects to see. When one person accesses content with that particular hashtag, they get everything that’s associated with it.

This makes a wonderful tool for marketing. Why? If a business uses the right hashtags, then they find themselves in the right market with all the right people, waiting to do business with them. So there’s no one arguing against using hashtags.

But how many hashtags are enough to convert your readers and not drive them away? Experts say you should limit yourself to 2 or 3 hashtags per post to avoid annoying your audience. It turns out that this is OK for Twitter, but not for Instagram, where interactions are higher on posts with at least 10 hashtags. However, don’t take their word for it. The best way to find out the perfect number of hashtags to use is to test it yourself.

Rule #4: Share others’ content more than your content

There are many rules of social sharing (the 80/20 rule, the golden ratio, the rule of thirds and so on) and they all say you should share more of other people’s content than your own.

We get that! Everybody hates the idea of self-promotion. And that’s because of those overselling on social channels, even though it’s not quite the same with sharing your useful content that adds value to your audience. It all comes down to knowing your audience and their needs. You need to create and share content that adds value and solves your readers’ problems. Content that’s so amazing that’s almost a sin not to share it. If your posts are outstandingly useful, your readers will not mind if you don’t follow the rule of thirds or some other similar sharing rule.

Rule #5: You should tweet or post a certain number of times per week

There are rules for how many times you should post on your social profiles, how long they should be, with or without photos, on what time of the day or days of the week you should post and so on. The truth is that all these practices are based on other people’s testing and on what worked for their situation. It’s ok to use them to start your own testing, but don’t settle with these numbers.

Test, analyze your results and iterate. Share content only if you add value, not to follow a checklist.

If you don’t have what to share for a few days don’t worry. Is better to stay quiet than to post something for the sake of posting.

Rule #6: Develop a social media marketing plan and stick to it

Developing a plan is crucial to your success. But these days everything is changing so fast, especially in social media, that what you planned today may be obsolete tomorrow.
So, I’d say: craft your plan, know your objectives but stay flexible enough so that you can adapt quickly to any unexpected event.

Rule #7: Have your posts 100% optimized for every network you want to share it on

Every social network has its particularities and your content should reflect that you understand these differences. You need to adapt your posts to the platform you use to reach your audience. Or, should you?

Take a look at Zara, for example. They post the same content on all their social channels. On Facebook, for example, they could’ve added a little more explanation for the picture, but they choose not to. And it’s not out of laziness, it’s because that’s how they connect to their users. Letting the images tell the story.

zara facebook vs instagram vs twitter

This bold approach made Zara one of the 20 most liked companies on Facebook. So, how can you break the rules in a creative and efficient way to stand out and get millions of followers like Zara did?

Rule #8: Always be part of the online social media conversation in your niche

Social listening is a very powerful practice that can help you identify conversations among your customers or prospects that you should partake in. Whether they love your products or they’re sharing their disappointment about your brand, you can track and join in these conversations to clear things up.
But you should not obsessively engage in every conversation on every platform or website. It’s more productive to participate only if you have something valuable to say and can add substance to the conversation.

Rule #9: Use perfect grammar

Apart from social media rules that you can refuse to obey, here are some grammar rules that you can go against in order to have more relaxed social media conversations.

However, it’s important for your brand’s online reputation to use proper grammar. Only break these rules to further clarify your message and to add a casual and familiar tone when talking to your audience (if it’s appropriate for your brand and niche).

These are 9 rules that you can and should break to make your brand stand out in a crowded social media universe. But remember that there is a right way and a wrong way to break the rules. Choose wisely and remain the hero of the story.