The 90-9-1 Rule for Ad Agency Social Media

“If you spend any time at all talking about online communities, you’re bound to stumble across the 90-9-1 Principle,” says Jake McKee. “The idea is simple: In social groups, some people actively participate more than others.” The question is, how can you leverage this for your ad agency’s blog and new business program?

Here’s the diagram that explains the principle:

Jake goes on to say that,

“It’s typically not possible to change the distribution in significant ways, as the more people added into one group directly drives the growth of the other two groups, maintaining something close to a 90-9-1 split.”

Participation tends to follow this rule, where:

  • 90% are the “audience”. They tend to read or observe, but don’t actively contribute.
  • 9% are “editors”, sometimes modifying content or adding to an existing thread, but rarely create content from scratch.
  • 1% are “creators”, driving large amounts of the social group’s activity. More often than not, these people are driving a vast percentage of the site’s new content, threads, and activity.

How might this principle impact your new business efforts? Here are three ideas:

  1. If you have an agency blog, recognize that the vast majority of your readers will be the “audience”, so don’t expect higher participation from them than you’re likely to get. In other words, set realistic expectations.
  2. The larger your blog’s audience, the more creators and editors will join the conversation. So, work at increasing the size of your blog’s email newsletter list to attract more readers.
  3. Leverage the power of Twitter and Facebook to expand the conversation. Michael Gass is a great resource to learn how to do this.

How else might you use this principle to your advantage?


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