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

Are you part of the 80%? 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.


2 thoughts on “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

    1. Suchitra,
      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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