2015 update on 90-9-1 & 70-20-10
Is the 90-9-1 rule for online community engagement dead? Is it dead, different or a distraction? Crystal in her blog starts exploring the 90-9-1 rule based on the 2012 BBC research which suggests that 77% of people are creators. I will come back to this later. Certainly it can be a distraction if you apply the 90-9-1 with any weight. Certainly it is different, but dead..? Let’s explore things a little.
Setting the scene – why write this update on 90-9-1 rule?
In 2009 I wrote my first piece on the 90-9-1 rule. So that post is now over 6 years old. The web has moved on, but has the level of interaction? Some will say yes, others will say no. Looking at the original article the term “web 2.0” has gone! Now its just the web. That is a good thing. Other than that and the fact that we talk about communities rather than forums, i an not convinced much has changed in our behaviour in this area, other than more light touch participation.
With the changes to how we we use and access the web via tablets and phones has meant we spend more of our time looking at screens, and thus have note disposable time to lurk or interact.
The addition of easy “engagement” functions such as “like” or “Retweet” have changed many lurkers into low level engaged participants.
Some communities and environments have moved away from being communities to environments. examples include things like google hangouts, where its almost impossible to lurk.
If we go back to the philosophy behind this, we can see that in general there are only a minority of people that will create content, and the majority will consume, with an increasing number in the middle that engage at some level, sharing or liking etc as the tools that provide this get easier and remain “low risk” for users.
For people building communities, understanding the dynamic that the majority will view only is a reality that needs to be managed. Good community leaders will encourage more people to take the step and interact at some level.
Is the ratio of value?
For me yes. If 90% of people created content, who would read it?
We have seen in many LinkedIn groups move away from discussion and engagement to some of these being places to promote their blogs and content. There is less interaction and engagement than ever. These are the groups I rarely visit anymore.
There is a big difference between a community and a soap box or news feed. As participants we want to FEEL that we have equal opportunity. That is an important fact that needs to be maintained.
Realising that there are different “audiences” for your community is important. As community champions or leader, we need to ensure that there is something for everyone.
- Stuff to read
- Stuff to “like”
- Stuff to share
- Stuff to comment on
- A place for our own stuff to be published.
Back to the BBC research findings on social interaction
The BBC research covering 7500 online users suggests that:
- 23% (not 90%) are passive
- 17% (not 1% creators) they describe as Intense
Adding 2 new criteria of “Reaction” and “Initiation” is interesting and may actually provide a better model then just 3 states.
If we take people and their responses as a whole, that is across ALL SOCIAL, then I suspect this is true. Even the blog itself had only 9 comments before the comments on the blog were closed. are we rally saying that only 20 people have seen the blog? It was posted in 2012 after all! The blog and the BBC blogs themselves disprove the theory that the 90-9-1 is dead in a given community or context.
I think we need to interpret the ratios in a very open way, and for many practical purposes the 70-20-10 might be nearer the mark for many communities.
Is the 90 9 1 dead?
I do not think so.
As I wrote originally in 2009, it’s more of a context provider than a rule.
If you treat it as a rule you will limit your community. If we simply expect more to read or lave low levels of engagement than those that create, we will probably have a healthy community. When 100% or very high numbers create, then we no-longer have a community but a bill board!
The 90-9-1 principle is just that, a principle, not a concrete rule to be applied with scientific rigor.
Is the 90-9-1 dead, BBC research suggests yes, but evidence says no! The 70-20-10 might be more accurate, but that misses the point!
If we merge these and come up with a new rule of: 20-16-44-17
What do you think?
Please don’t YOU be a lurker, like, share or comment.. If YOU lurk you may disprove the BBC research :D