Learn from HP's secret 50/25/25 content promotion rule

by Jason Keath on Oct 20, 2015
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Creating content is a challenge all on it’s own. And because of that, we often forget, postpone, or put off content promotion and distribution.

While speaking with Paula Berg recently, the Digital Communications Lead at HP, on the Social Toolkit podcast, I asked her about how they they were doing so well promoting their new digital magazine HP Matter. I’ve been seeing their articles everywhere.

“Content creation can be time-consuming and expensive, and many times you post content and miss promotion and distribution opportunities.”
Paula Berg, HP

Paula shared HP’s simple content promotion guiding principle with me and how they it looks for them in action. She calls it their 50/25/25 Rule.

The core of the 50/25/25 rule is creating a content promotion plan that uses both proven strategies and experimentation to maximize resources and reach on a regular basis.

The assumption here is what works today, may not work tomorrow. And if we only stick with what we know when it comes to content promotion, we will inevitably, miss out on big opportunities.

The 3 pieces of the rule are simple. Establish your content promotion resources (time and budget) and then split them up in 3 categories:

  1. 50 — Use What Works: Commit 50% to what you know already works well for you.
  2. 25 — Experiments: Commit 25% to options with potential, but still needs improvement.
  3. 25 — The Hail Mary Pass: Commit 25% to long shots and new channels.

50 — Use What Works


You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Spend half your resources—but no more—focusing on what you already know works well.

“50 percent of our approach is tried and true. Things we know are going to get us results.”

Make use of cost effective sites like Outbrain and Taboola (native advertising on blogs and articles). These tools place recommended content on new sites across the web by creating native ad posts that show up on the bottom of blog posts and media/news sites. They are extremely powerful and continually prove their targeting capabilities.

Or for greater amplification, try teaming up with successful heavy hitters. HP partners with several different sources to gain content including Fast Company, Quarts Magazine, The Atlantic, The New York Times, as well as their own internal work of content promotion options.

HP is a big company with big budgets. But these options, native advertising and content partners, can work for a business that is any size.

You may not be able to afford partnership options with Fast Company, but you can find blogs, industry publications and social ad options that let you control your resources and still find relevant audiences.

25: Experiment and Tweak as You Go

But sticking with what you know isn’t enough. As Paula says, “We can’t rest on past approaches. Minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour it takes a lot of attention to get it right.”

“25 percent of our approach are things that we’re dabbling with and things we think have potential but we’re still tweaking our formula.”

Oftentimes, this means ignoring trends or the behaviors of the majority. Most content strategies involve posting new work as frequently as your team has the bandwidth for.

But at HP?

Their content schedule takes a different approach. Paula’s team posts quarterly editions of an online magazine called HP Matter where they focus on one specific topic related to their industry.

Unusual? Perhaps! But they experimented with it, it’s working, and they made it part of their bread and butter strategy. The best part: doing the quarterly approach gives HP time to really evaluate their approach and tweak it as they go.

For your business, the 25% Experiments category might include email marketing, an app, influencer marketing, internal advocate promotion, discovering new outside partnerships to test, or building out an existing but underutilized social network presence.

Make educated guess based on what is working for you today, and your peers. And test those guesses.

25: The Hail Mary Pass

You know what they say, go big or go home. The final 25 percent of the 50/25/25 rule is spent on Hail Mary Passes.

“Another 25 percent is spent on long shots and new channels. Sometimes it’s a total flop and we move on.”

They may have a large chance of failing, but without taking risks, you can’t discover exciting (and surprisingly effective) strategies.

Try new things. You’ll surprise yourself with what works.

Developing a content marketing plan takes serious time. In your haste to get rolling, don’t forget that content marketing is about so much more than the creation—that’s just step one.

Content creation, distribution, social engagement, metrics, and analytics: Although they are all separate, these need to all work together to maximize ROI. By implementing a 50/25/25 strategy at every touchpoint, you’ll develop an strategy that scales as your business grows.

Post Author

CEO and founder of Social Fresh, the social media education company. Jason is a social media consultant, a social media speaker and industry analyst. He consults with corporations and agencies on social media strategy, building community, and influencer...

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