Are You Using the 80/20 Rule to Your Advantage?

Are you part of the 80%? I’m not talking about an occupy movement here. Instead, I’m referring to the 80/20 rule or the Pareto Principle. Anyone that’s served on a committee or worked on a team class project has seen this rule in action. It goes like this:

80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Or in business the distribution looks like this:

  • 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers
  • 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers
  • 80% of your sales are made by 20% of your sales staff
  • 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people

Named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1906 after observing that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population, he developed the principle by also observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. Since that time the principal has been used in economic theory, optimization efforts and quality control measures. For example, Microsoft noted that by fixing the top 20% of the most highly reported bugs, 80% of the errors would be eliminated (Wikipedia).

How this works with Social Media

Simple. You’ll get the best results and engagement from your efforts if 80% of what do you adds value to someone else, either by providing free information, sharing articles written by others, offering discounts, crowdsourcing ideas or pointing out others’ successes. The other 20% can be about you, your products and your ideas. In other words, talk about yourself only 20% of the time. That’s 2 tweets out of 10.

Do you see this principle at work in your social media efforts? Share your ideas with me here.



About Sue Reynolds
Sue Reynolds is the founder and owner of Carmine Media, a web and social media consultancy. She is also the manager of social media and web design in a corporate environment, where she works with businesses and nonprofits to build their web presence and nurture brand loyalty.

2 Responses to Are You Using the 80/20 Rule to Your Advantage?

  1. Hello Sue,

    Interesting application of the Pareto Principle – 2 tweets out of 10 should be about you. Very few companies actually do this – I have observed businesses use Twitter more for broadcasting than for conversation. I guess because people are still confusing social media as a 100% marketing channel.

    I wrote about the Pareto Principle last week on my blog :
    You can apply the 80/20 principle almost anywhere to find the best way to direct your energies and time.

    Thanks for sharing a new perspective.
    Twitter : @suchimishra

    • Sue Reynolds says:

      You’ve helped illustrate my point here – that many companies are still broadcasting their marketing messages Through Twitter and Facebook rather than to converse and build relationships. Thanks for your comment-you have a new follower!


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