I thought I'd chirp in on a conversation that has been making the rounds in the marketing pundit universe called the 1% rule. It is a deliciously simple and easy way at looking at the super involved influencers within the world of social media. As Church of The Customer has noted 50% of all Wikipedia edits are done by 0.7% of the users and 1.8% of the users have written 72% of the articles. Bradley Horowitz from Yahoo also chimes in that roughly 1% of your site visitors will contribute content within a democratized community.
This is powerful stuff. So powerful, there seems to be some dispute over who came up with the Rule in the first place as the U.K.-based Guardian Unlimited has come up with their own take on this topic. Regardless, it's further proof that it's not necessarily what you know but who you invite that matters in the new media world. We call these people in Canada - The Influencers.
Let's take this 1% rule one step further - we think there are 4 layers to this influence onion and we're calling it the 20-10-1 rule (no it's not a new fertilizer). Here goes:
In a world of 100 target customers
- 20% of them really matter to you, particularly when launching new products - we're calling these people the Influencer Adopters - people inclined to get involved, try your stuff, become early adopters and if inspired, provide a word of mouth referral (this 20% changes for each category)
- If you add Everett Rogers early parts of the diffusion curve - 16% of the world are early adopters (innovators + early adopters)
- If you take Marian Salzman's take on the buzz generators - 30% of your audience plays an early role (2% Lunatic Fringe, 8% Alphas and 20% Bees)
We'll take the Pareto principle (20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your business) and split Rogers & Salzman in the middle
- The Passive Referrers (10%) - the outside concentric circle of this group are Passive Referrers - they adopt early and likely are more informed about your category and product than the rest of the mainstream, their commitment to extending that influence is limited to providing referrals for people when prompted - valuable people but tough to harness
- The Active Referrers (9%) - the next group closer to the middle are people who may exhibit the same early-adopting traits of the passive referrers but they are willing to do something about it - if inspired, they actively refer people into the franchise, contribute to a forum online, chat up your product in their social networks, initiate small talk based on your product - they are naturally gifted word of mouthers on your category/brand and likely exceed the average amount of word of mouth conversations people have each week
Keller and Berry's Influentials - one American in ten tells the other nine how to vote, where to eat and what to buy
Horowitz's group of Yahoo synthesizers - the online user group that responds actively, contributes to threads, whether starting their own or actually contributing to one in progress
- The Influencer Collaborators (1%) - the final group is the special sauce of word of mouth campaigns , they are the potent 1% - as a business we try to attract a high ratio of these people into our programs, thankfully they are more than happy to self identify themselves. They are not only willing to adopt early, to actively refer others but they are also willing to become an unpaid army of ambassadors and deliver extra value to your brand by (but not limited to): creating consumer generated media, starting their own fan site, providing you research, creating a solid endorsement on Amazon, sending you articles, becoming a citizen advisor, collaborating on innovation, becoming your beta testers. Treat these people with respect and certainly not like the mass market - they likely are doing it because they are showing a bit of corporate altruism (If Kenneth Cole is listening, I am this person for you) Examples of brand blogging collaborators: Starbucks, McDonalds, Toronto Maple Leafs, XM Radio, Star Trek , Ipod
I did some homework here to support the magical 1%, beyond the stats and evidence provided by the Church of the Customer for the 1% rule, the trouble making One Percenters and Gladwell's Law of the Few, I looked at the U.S. Internet universe as my example:
- # of US Adults over 15 - 237MM (The Market)
- # of US Internet Users over 15 - 182MM -77% of pop. (The Market minus the laggards)
- # of US Adults who Posted Content Online in the last year - 48MM - 20% (The Influencer Adopters)
- # of US Adults Who Created Own Blogs - 27MM -10% (The Influencer Active Referrers)
- # of US Adults who are Active Bloggers (updating more than weekly) -1MM - 0.5% (The Influencer Collaborators)
Interesting stuff? Much like the other people writing about this rule, I'd love to see some more in-market data that supports an intuitively smart theory, any takers?
Regardless, your mission as a plugged in marketer, communicator and prospective word of mouth rainmaker is finding the 20%, 10% and 1% of your market and narrowcasting your message, respect and invitation for their involvement to these market transmitters. Now spread the word...