The 80/20 Rule and Social Media

Oct 10, 2013 | Social Media


Social Media


The 80/20 rule was taught to me in college, but I think I’ve always had an idea of the concept.

Before I get ahead of myself, I’ll define this principle using the greatest of online resources, Wikipedia (kidding…but this is a good definition).

“The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.”

An Italian economist in 1906 noticed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. In business, a common rule of thumb is that 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your clients.

For example, if a restaurant has “regulars” who come in all the time, I bet they are a part of that restaurant’s 20%. Car dealerships also count on repeat business. Why? That’s how they make their money. It’s the 20% again.

Don’t hear me saying that the other people—the 80%—aren’t important. This group is vital to the existence and growth of a business as a whole. The 80% should still be delighted when they interact with you. Although some may not come back as repeat customers, they can still carry your success on their lips. (I’m referring to word of mouth.) You are still responsible for your brand management, while making sure customers are happy.

But let’s focus on how to use the Pareto principle (I feel so scholarly when I say it that way) within social media marketing. I’ll use Twitter as an example, but these concepts apply across all social platforms.

Let’s say you have 1,000 followers on Twitter. As you go about your business of posting engaging thoughts, sharing useful content, and interacting with your followers, you start to notice a trend. A few people in particular are starting to engage with your tweets more often than others. Keep an eye on this! These followers could be your most powerful advocates. Make a list of their names.

Let’s say a month passes. Now you’re sure of it: your list of about 200 names (20%, how convenient!) depicts the followers who consistently interact with you. You feel like you almost know them personally, based on your conversations on Twitter.

Now it’s time to maximize their participation:

  • Give them shout-outs.
  • Tag them when offering special deals that are “Twitter-exclusive.”
  • Ask for their opinions on the next product you want to launch. For example: @PowerAdvocate What do you think? Should we come out with the white or black option? (Insert link here.) #style #newproduct

Who doesn’t love being mentioned by one of their favorite brands? I was mentioned by Adidas Golf one time, and it made my day—maybe my week! (Honesty moment: I still get excited when I tell people about it.)

It all boils down to this: the 80/20 principle is effective and important in social media. This rule may look different in other departments because social media doesn’t include sales figures, etc. But, when done correctly, that 20% on social media can become your biggest advocates. When they share your special deals with friends, your reach and potential customer pool increase. And if more people know about your deals, more people are likely to purchase your product.

Don’t neglect social media. Use the 80/20 rule, and maximize it. Engage the 20% to create more buzz among the 80%, and see if your sales rise.

Dustin Hickle
Social Media Director
Learn more about Dustin!

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