Understanding Participation Inequality on the Web
The 90-9-1 Rule
You may wonder why it seems like only a small percentage of your audience is engaged. The answer is called the rule of Participation Inequality, also called the 90-9-1 rule.
According to this rule only 1% of the community is creating, 9% are interacting, and 90% are consuming information and observing on the web.
Posted in Online Marketing
Community Roles Defined
The 90-9-1 rule has been used to define online marketing strategies and tactics for the last twenty years. I believe it’s still relevant.
There are different opinions on how the ratios unpack into community roles. The figure, below illustrates my experience of how communities surround a social issue or concern.
- Pundits: Professional media opinions, can be objective but mostly represent a particular solution or slant (i.e., money talks). At the top of the profession: highly interconnected group of individuals and organizations that mutually reinforce and elevate each others SEO rankings. Attempt to set the social agenda favorable to maintaining traffic to their publication.
- Advocates: Individuals with a burning compassion for the social issues — represent a particular solution or slant to the issue. Generally, very knowledgable and may be labelled as subject matter experts or mavens.
- Syndicators: Curate content and information and circulate to the joiners and speculators, play an important role in dissemination of opinions; important social influencers and leaders of social movements. Ranks include celebrity media, business and political leaders at the high-end; but represented by local organizers in niche, “long-tail,” domains of interest and geographies.
- Joiners: The general public with a stake in the social concern or issue and its outcome. Generally follow a syndicators, advocates and pundits for their insights and opinions. May occasionally “follow.” “like,” or “share” content used on social media.
- Speculators: Caught between joiners and observers, generally follow the joiner crowd to avoid missing out on solutions or afraid of being outcasts for not being involved.
- Observers: The mass of people not affected by the social concern or issue and don’t really care.
How these roles relate to the 90-9-1 rule:
- The joiner, speculators, and observers comprise the remaining 90%;
- The syndicators are the 9% interacting and curating content created by advocates and pundits; and,
- The advocates and pundits represent the 1% creating content.
I will be returning to this model to describe online strategies and tactics in future posts.
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