The Social Media 80-20 Rules

Pablo Biankowski at Dendrite Park offers an interesting post talking about how the Pareto principle applies to content in business social media. It’s a fascinating read, and it offers some good guidance for content creation.

But as Joab and I were talking the other day, we realized that when you think about it, the 80-20 rule applies in other areas in social media as well. First, and cuing from Pablo’s post, 20% of your content generates 80% of the attention, so don’t expect everything to be a hit, no matter how hard you work on it.

What we find more interesting is the participation numbers. You have to expect that 20% of your users generate 80% of the activity on the site. That means that 80% of your users will only generate 20% of the activity. If you are measuring the usefulness of your internal social media platform based on 100% use and “everybody” being active, you are in for a disappointment.

Unfortunately, we still hear too many managers complaining that they are not able to get everyone involved in their internal social media platforms. To them we say this: if you can get 20% of your people on the platform and using it, you’ve got a win.

The next step should be to get these power-users to provide feedback: what do they like about the platform, what do they not like, and how do they use it? Not only will you score points and additinal dedication from the most important users, you are also gainig valuable insight on how to engage more poeple.

So when you start your revolution, remember that you only need about 20% of your people to be the “cadre” of change, and adjust you key performance indicators accordingly.