Improve Social Networking For Your Business with the 1/9/90 Rule

ImageIn your attempts to get super-social with your fans, are you ignoring the silent majority?

These tips from the American Express Open Forum can help you improve your outreach to your fans, customers, and community members.

The so-called 1/9/90 rule posits that on a social media network or review site, only 1 percent of users will actively create content. Another 9 percent, the editors, will participate by commenting, rating or sharing the content. The other 90 percent watch, look and read without responding.

In other words, there's a vast silent majority of customers, potential or active, who don't make a peep. Nevertheless, they are reading your content or reading about you. While engaging with the outgoing 10 percent is important, there are three steps you should take to make sure you are still promoting to the customers who read, but don't participate.

1. Put up a good front for the 90 percenters

Many of these people will find you on search, either on a social media, review sites or via traditional search. On review sites, don't obsess about the number of reviews you're getting, advises Luther Lowe, Yelp manager of business outreach.

"We argue that the key metric for determining whether you have a successful presence is not the quantity of reviews but the quantity of page views-how many people looking at the page every month. If you had one review but a thousand page views, your business would be doing really well," Lowe says.

2. Use the 1 percent to understand the 90 percent

"You can find fun, creative ways to use the 1 percenters to help identify the 9 or 90s, maybe through some polling activity or surveys," says Sean McDonald, principle strategist for Ant's Eye View, a social media strategy consulting firm. "This 1 percent trusts you and hangs out with you for a reason."

Find out what that reason is. You can ask these highly engaged users what other communities they're involved in and what value they find in their own. You might also ask them for feedback on your content or services.

If you're working to increase your total base of users, fans or community members, it's important to show some love to the 9 percent, the ones who comment once a month or stop by to leave a single review, McDonald says.

3. Keep in touch after the flame has cooled

Remember that people's participation changes over time, says Don Rainey, a general partner in Grotech Ventures, a private equity investment firm. If you're focused on that 1 or 9 percent who are currently active or were active in the last quarter, you're missing an important part of your fan base.

"Someone who reviewed your business last summer and loved the place is still your audience," Rainey says. "Often, people in the 1 percent will migrate into the silent 90 percent, but they're still your best customers."

Small businesses actually have some advantage when it comes to igniting that 90 percent, McDonald says. "You may think, 'Why should I bother, because it's only 25 or 50 people?' On the other hand, it's so much easier to get in there with 25 people to nurture those relationships that will help you grow 10 times bigger down the road."

Roger Madison, CEO

iZania, LLC