Ever hear of the 80/20 rule? You know, the principal that says that 20% of the people/projects/etc. contribute 80% of the output/progress/etc. Well, that rule doesn’t apply when it comes to social influencers.
Jackie Huba's keynote presented an interesting case for what I’d call th “1/99 Rule” at last week’s NewComm Forum 2010. Her findings: only 1% of visitors to sites (social or otherwise) actually create the content that the rest of the universe views (that’s where the 99 comes from).
Interesting stat. But, what does this mean for Marketers? Well, if you’ll give me just a marketing minute, I’ll tell you.
Sharpen Your Pencils…and Your Marketing
One thing I find interesting is that this is not so much a radical shift in focus as a sharpening of focus (okay, maybe a big sharpening, but a sharpening nonetheless). And, it backs up one of the key strategies in social marketing: identify and energize the people who will spread the word on your Brand’s behalf.
This perspective also runs counter to a commonly held view that the social web has established a “citizen journalism” where anyone can create and publish content. In theory, this would create an “equal” playing field. In fact, this 1/99 Rue demonstrates an “inequality,” rather than an “equality.” When it comes to real influence, these “One-Percenters” are truly inordinate influencers in today’s world.
And that, my friends, is the kind of leverage point smart marketers should be seeking.
News You Can Use
Jackie provided some straight-forward advice for marketers seeking to act on this set of insights. The high level objective in this new arena: seek to create a customer who in turn creates another customer(s) for your Brand.
Boiled down to blog length, here are 4 Tips Marketers should apply to achieve that goal:
- People ARE the Message - It’s not so much about getting your Message to the People, it’s about recognizing that People ARE the Message. For any brand, the key audience are those One Percenters, the people who are actually creating content. Find/attract them and you have taken your first step toward your end objective.
- Give People Something to Join – Human beings are social animals (and not just online). We like to participate and share experiences with others who share our interests. One Percenters will readily “join” a Brand, a cause, a community if you provide them with something they can love. Doing so helps to create “ambassadors” for your Brand, like Maker’s Mark did when they established their Ambassador Program
- Participation is the 5th P – The One Percenters are not only the people who create the content, they are the people who SHARE the content that they find. They actively participate in the conversations and discussions regarding a Brand, Cause or whatever their interest. So, smart marketers will give these folks things that they can share with the broader community and keep them participating. This does not mean coupon drops via Twitter; it’s about providing information and content of interest to the community. In Jackie’s words: “Give first, and you’ll receive later.” Translation: Don’t be a self-centered, commercial glutton who demands instantaneous gratification; you need to be patient, take a long-term view and serve your community’s needs first…you’ll get your ROI over time (if you can wait more than a week…if not, then this may not be a path for you).
- Build a Culture of Loyalty – One key to help propagate and build your community of ambassadors and fans is to provide “insider cues” that the community will adopt and share. It’s these “shared cues” that helps reinforce the feelings of community and belonging that increases a sense of loyalty. Jackie cited Lady GaGa’s social marketing activities as an example. The diva phenom provides lots of content for her fans to talk about, capture and share (be it Flip videos of her concerts that allows millions to share the concert experience, her tweets of the “little monsters” tattoo she added to acknowledge her adoring fans or the “clawed hand” symbol that her fans have adopted as a shared symbol).
Some of you out there may be reading this and saying: “Um, we’ve heard this before. This doesn’t sound new to me.” And, I’d agree with you in some ways. Jackie has outlined some fundamental principals that have been articulated in other ways, so I concede it’s not radical “new news” (although I like her take on the One Percenters and her very practical advice).
However, two things DO strike me as noteworthy.
- It’s not always about numbers – Sorry analytics mavens, but to be successful in this arena you need more than a spreadsheet full of metricsI. When it comes to identifying and attracting the One Percenters, it takes a deft creative hand/mind to conceive the ideas that engage and encourage participation and sharing. There’s no algorithm for creativity or consumer insights that leads to moves like GaGa. It’s better to think like a sociologist or psychologist than a mathematician when it comes to creating these shared symbols and experiences. (And THEN you can start to analyze what’s working and what’s not)
- If it’s so obvious, they why aren’t you doing it? – The truth is that there IS a small group who does really understand this arena and are practicing these principles. But, not everyone or every company/organization falls into this category (in fact, most don’t). So, if you already “get it” and are walking the talk, I salute you! And, if not, I hope that the above gives you some news YOU can use in your efforts to create more customers who are loyal, engaged and connected to your Brand.
I’m a member of MENG (Marketing Executive Networking Group), and I felt I represented the membership in many ways at this event, exchanging ideas with thought leaders in the emerging and ever-evolving world of social tools, technologies, marketing and media. I’ll be sharing other insights I gleaned from NewComm Forum 2010 in days to come.
But, my minute is now up. It’s your turn…what do YOU think?