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.



How to Handle Negative Comments on your Social Media Spaces

I had the privilege of working with a group of young leaders recently on strategies for using social media for business. During our lively discussion they expressed a common concern they hear from new clients: the fear of negative posts on their pages.

In my work I’ve seen these fears keep businesses from entering the spaces altogether, which is a shame. I’ll be honest here. You can’t control what people post. Negativity happens. My experience is that these posts are rare, but it is still a good idea to arm yourself with a strategy for dealing with them in advance. Develop a policy for your pages and post it publicly. If you’re looking for ideas, the U.S. Army has a great example.

Courtesy of

If a negative comment doesn’t break the rules of engagement treat it as an opportunity. Yes, you’re going to feel hurt and angry. Focus. Here’s how to turn your unhappy customer into an advocate.


Listening for online conversations involves monitoring the keywords surrounding your brand name as well as your @mentions and your Facebook wall posts. Are you using keywords to search out conversations that mention your brand across the social spaces? If not, you might be missing out on some valuable feedback that’s occurring outside your social media walls. Remember people are more likely to complain among friends than reach out to the brand. Look for those conversations and then develop a strategy for reaching out and offering assistance.

Respond Quickly and Publicly

Negative posts require an immediate public response. Show how much you value the feedback by responding with a comment that says you hear what they’re saying and you plan to take action. A good rule of thumb is to offer to take the conversation offline if the situation requires customer service action. Tell them to check their inbox for a message from you and then send that message immediately.


When you do connect, act like you care and mean it. Whether publicly or privately, introduce yourself as the person behind the brand and let them know you are concerned about their experiences and want to help. You’ll find most people respond positively to this. It’s easy to be angry at a faceless brand, but when confronted by an actual person with a name and a face my experience is they become very reasonable and willing to cooperate.

Take Action

Now that you’ve reached out to offer help follow up and take action. Involve customer service if necessary and do everything you can to exceed their expectations. If their comments revealed something you need to change, change it. If you made a mistake, fix it. If you can offer a discount or reward for their feedback, offer it. Then thank them for their help in improving your business. Leave them feeling cared for. 

Don’t let fear keep you from opportunities to improve your business! Instead, use the social nature of these spaces to develop real relationships with your customers. Careful though – you might just have a brand advocate on your hands now!

Do you have a complaint turned brand advocate story? Share it here with me.

Why your Facebook Fan Page and Twitter Background Design are Insignificant

It’s easy to get caught up in designing a beautiful background for your Twitter account and your Facebook page. After all, it is your image and personal branding at stake. You want the best quality photos, a branded Twitter background that showcases your organization and you want Facebook tabs that inspire and educate. This is an extension of your web presence, and you need to wow your clientele with a beautiful page.


Ok I’m exaggerating a bit but I do have a point here. The truth is most people never return to a Facebook fan page or a Twitter page once they’ve clicked like or follow. After that initial visit your content shows up in their newsfeeds, so they might not ever have a reason to navigate over to your page again. With Twitter’s launch of the follow button for websites today your Twitter background just became even more insignificant! Before the follow button potential followers had to visit your Twitter page at least once to follow you. Now they can just click follow right from your site and never once visit your page.

If you’d like a button like the one pictured below for your website you can get one here:

Follow me!


What all this means is that it is, and always was, the quality of the content in your newsfeed that’s important. So instead of spending a lot of time fussing over the look and feel of your page and your background images, spend time creating quality content that keeps your fans entertained and engaged.

I’d love for you to visit my Twitter page and follow me there, but you can also use the button.

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