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90-9-1 Principle Wasn’t Meant to Be Exact

Posted by Patrick on July 19th, 2012 in Research, Thinking

The 90-9-1 rule, popularized by Jacob Nielsen, based on research by Will Hall, says that 90% of users in an online community are lurkers who don’t contribute, while 9% contribute sometimes and 1% contribute frequently.

Last year, Paul Schneider attempted to update this principle by looking at a relatively small data set of 15 clients and suggested that the the rule should now be 70-20-10.

Once in a while, I see someone comment or write a post about how 90-9-1 is dead or no longer relevant or something similar. Sooner or later, if it reaches enough people, someone will come along and suggest the 70-20-10 rule needs to be updated, too.

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Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, a Chancellor Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has released the results of the center’s fifth annual study into the usage of social media by Inc. 500 companies.

The survey asked participants about thirteen particular types of social media: blogging, message/bulletin boards, online video, podcasting, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Foursquare, LinkedIn, YouTube, texting, discount sites and mobile apps.

The data presented in the study is compared to the numbers from the version released for the previous year or two years (I covered last year’s study), where available. LinkedIn, YouTube, texting, discount sites and mobile apps are all new this year.

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Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, a Chancellor Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has released the results of the center’s fourth annual study into the usage of social media by Inc. 500 companies.

The survey asked participants about seven particular types of social media: blogging, message/bulletin boards, online video, podcasting, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Foursquare.

The data presented in the study is compared to the numbers from the version released for the previous year, where available. Certain questions were not asked of Facebook, MySpace and Foursquare, specifically, in 2009.

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Social engagement firm ComBlu has just released “The State of Online Branded Communities,” a new 52-page report that you can download for free on their website.

It includes data from 241 online communities collectively owned by 78 corporations, and the bulk of the report discusses what tools they use and what “best practices” they follow. This data is then drilled down to specific industries and corporations are given a rating based on how well they are supposedly engaging through their online communities.

Overall, ComBlu did a great job collecting and compiling this data and offering it to us to consume – and for free. They certainly could have charged for the report and I would have never seen it unless they sent me a copy, so the fact that they are providing it free of charge makes it a must-download for anyone in the community space.

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Back in 2007, popular webcomic xkcd published a map of online communities. At the time, MySpace reigned supreme. YouTube, Wikipedia and Yahoo! and Windows Live (the last two, combined, were dubbed “The Icy North”) were the next largest. Facebook, still growing and only a year or so open to the general public, held a nice piece of land, but not larger than Xanga, Orkut, Friendster, Classmates.com and more.

Earlier this month, they posted an update and, as one might expect, there were some major land shifts. The first thing that catches my eye is Facebook, which is by far the biggest player on the map. MySpace has now been relegated to a portion of land much, much smaller than Farmville and Happy Farm and not all that much larger than hi5, Orkut and LinkedIn.

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Jackie Rousseau-Anderson of Forrester has a run down of the 2010 update of their Social Technographics data. In short, they poll U.S. consumers based on their online social activity and then place them into categories. These categories are:

  • Creators: Publish a blog, publish your own web pages, upload video you created, upload audio/music you created and/or write articles or stories and post them.
  • Conversationalists: Update a status on a social networking site and/or post updates on Twitter.

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