Sunday, January 07, 2007

Pareto meets Web 2.0

Most of us are familiar with the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule. While it is first and foremost a management tool, it provides great insight into life. Check out your closet: likely that 80% of the time you wear 20% of your clothes. Businesses make 80% of their business from 20% of their customers. Eighty percent of a dean of students time is spent with 20% of the students.

I stumbled on another, similar, rule today. Not the 80/20 rule, but the 1% Rule. From Church of the Customer: Roughly 1% of your site visitors will create content within a democratized community.

Ben McConnell goes on to say,
It would appear that small groups of people often turn out to be the principal value creators of a democratized community. Over time, their work fuels widespread interaction that engages the non-participating community and attracts new ones. If continually nurtured, the community can become a self-sustaining generator of content and value.
So what's this tell us? One thing it tells me is that while many people might use a particular community tool, very few will actually add content to it. I think of the Coast Guard's CG Central initiative. CG Central is an intranet portal which is supposed to provide a one-place-for-everything initiative. It only works, of course, if it's populated. From the 1% rule, we might see that only 1% of the community members -- all military members and civilian employees -- will actually add content through microsites or other CG Central tools.

Beyond the 1%, evidently 10% will "synthesize" the content, or interact with it, according to the post. So, nearly 90% of the community will merely read it, another 10% will perhaps comment on the content, and only 1% will actually create content.

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