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.



Wisdom from Dilbert: Listen to Skeptics

In addition to the importance of clarifying the business need for enterprise social tools, Dilbert provides additional wit and wisdom on successful social tool implementation.

In short, it is critical to listen actively to skeptics.

Evernote Camera Roll 20140406 161919

Not everyone will be excited about using new social tools.  In fact, some may even be openly hostile to the entire value proposition of social tools.

Skeptics will generally be in two camps:

1) Active Resistance: Those who openly question the value of social tools

2) Passive Resistance: Others who privately ask the same questions

The concerns of those who actively resist will come to light quickly while those who passively resist will likely require you to proactively reach out to them.  With both parties the goal is the same: listen to and actively address their concerns on a consistent basis.

Not all issues can be addressed – for instance, there may be technical limitations to the tool that you can’t easily influence.  Actively addressing concerns may mean that you are simply honest about what the new tool can and cannot do.  It may also mean you proactively suggest work around solutions and compromise when your are getting too much push back on full social implementation.

Expected Results – Integration into Comms Tool Kit

Through combining a clear articulation of the business needs the social tool addresses and actively listening to the concerns of your skeptics, your business case for the tool can be even stronger.  Through listening to the skeptics and seeking ways to incorporate their feedback you will have more realistic view of the business challenges the tool will address.  In addition, you should also be able to convert some critics into supporters that will further strength the change management adoption for the entire team.

In the end, articulating the business need and listening to critics will enable social tools to become an increasingly integrated part of your team’s communication tool box.




Wisdom from Dilbert: Clarify the Need 

Evernote Camera Roll 20140406 161856

In this scene, Scott Adams, Creator of Dilbert, highlights a critical reality for successfully rolling out social tools within any company:  Clarify the Need

Never implement social tools without a clear understanding of the business needs they address.  The tools must address specific problems that are articulated and understood throughout the team – from the top down.  Though the need will likely evolve over time, it must be clearly communicated on an on-going basis.  Furthermore, it is critical that the core message of the need be couched in business terms and internalized by the senior most leader on the team and a core team of advocates spread throughout the team hierarchy.

For example, a relatively simple business need may be simplifying a team’s file sharing by leveraging a single platform where all team documents can be stored – whether files from an annual off-site meeting or weekly dashboard reports.  A more complex business need may be for 24/7 technical support for the new company employee recognition tool that can be partially addressed through moderated discussion forms embedded within a virtual community.

In short, our social tool roll outs don’t have to be stuck in Dilbert’s misery.  Start with the business need and build your team-wide promotion of the social tool accordingly.


Joab: Go Social At Work

Our own Joab Meyer writes eloquently about how individuals inside organizations need to reach out to each other to strengthen internal ties. We talk a lot here about how so much of internal social media needs to be top-down, management enabled, and structurally supported. But if you are a junior member of an organization, or if you’ve got no control over the social media structure of your company, internal social starts with you.