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May 21, 2006
Are you a 1 Percenter?
My post on the 1% Rule -- which posits that roughly 1% of an online community's members or visitors will create original content -- sparked a number of thoughtful and well-said reactions.
The governing theme to most reactions: It's time to recalibrate any lofty Web 2.0 expectations, especially for those who would believe the Pareto Principle applies to citizien-created content and citizen marketing. For almost every product, blog, brand or idea, building a volunteer base of co-creators and collaborators takes time. For companies with already substantial audiences, such as Canadian television, Provokat guesses the 1% Rule could represent new and significant levels of citizen-created content.
The overriding lesson: Avoid marginalizing the 1 Percenters as statistically insignificant, unrepresentative of the total audience or simply the lunatic fringe. If anything, the 1 Percenters may represent the leading indicators of how well your brand is being adopted, synthesized and vocalized.
Ben Martin: "This is true of association volunteerism too, don't you think? Twenty percent of the people do 80% of the work? Hardly. Pareto was generous."
Heather Green of Businessweek: "Suddenly trying to figure out how to be relevant and interact with that 1% seems pretty important, if you're an established company." Very true. Assume that well-known global brands have 100,000 visitors per month to their sites, 1% equals 1,000 content creators per month.
The Left Media blog takes a markets-are-perfect position about the 1% Rule: "Web 2.0: Don't trust anyone who isn't greedy." Krasimir comments on that blog, saying: "It'll be interesting to find out of the 1% that contribute are the same 1% over the course of the year." Excellent idea.
Seth Godin: "It's easy to imagine that big companies like Hallmark and British Airlines and Coke are selling lots and lots to everyone. In fact, a tiny slice may very well be the difference between success and failure." That's often true in profit margins and may well be true here, too.
Don Tudor: "If 1% of your current customers made an additional average sales purchase every month, what kind of impact would that make to your bottom line?"
The Leaky Facuet blog: "Using other brands and sites for cross promotion can only work so well before the community must build itself through interaction and viral marketing."
The Provokat blog: "If 1% of Quebec television viewers were producers/directors that would equal 70,000. If 1% of audience members at Madonna’s last show were on stage with her, that would equal 600 back-up singers."
Vidize blog: "I've been trying to incentivize people to use the company wiki. (The 1% Rule) puts it into perspective."
Jaffe Juice: "It's worth thinking about the 1% as a means to reach, connect and effect with the 99% as opposed to all that good money thrown after bad."
Johnnie Moore: "It's easy for organisations to stigmatise the one-percenters. Marketing types often sneer at fanatical customers for their lunacy in being more passionate about the organisations' product or service than the professionals are."
Jeff Jarvis: "A common misconception about interactivity is that everyone has to do it for it to be successful."
Finally, Colin McKay points to a story about a group of bikers in the 1960s who added "one-percenter" patches to their jackets. That was their response to the American Motorcyle Association's assertion after some bad publicity that "99% of all riders were clean-cut, upstanding citizens and that it was the 1% out looking for trouble that gave bikers a bad name." Being labeled a troublemaker was suddenly a badge of pride. A fun story worth reading.
There were a number of posts in languages other than English, too. For those bloggers, forgive me for being unable to translate. But I'm glad the idea of the 1% Rule sparked a number of conversation threads. Thanks to everyone who chimed in with their ideas and reactions.
Other blogs that reference Are you a 1 Percenter?:
the 1%ers and the trendsetters are often the same people. after a recent flurry, "trendsetter" and "trend" are falling rapidly into disrepute.
the builders of new icons are by definition iconoclasts.
their rotation across the shelf of icons, and their subsequent recycling about a generation later provides a churn that designers can lead, follow, or get run over by, since it's not smart to just get out of the way.
Surely the 1% rule is an example of the power law distribution of which the Pareto Principle is itself another example.
The questions we should ask ourselves about the 1% rule are:
1. Is the anecdotal evidence presented to-date examples of a more generally applicable "1% Rule", or just an interesting anomaly
2. What characteristics separate websites, blogs, etc that reach the 1% from those that don't
3. What can be done to develop websites, blogs, etc that do reach the 1% and that do so more quickly
4. What can be done to grow the 1% to a higher percentage that is more representative of the whole population of customers, users, etc - I do not believe that 1% is enough either to reliably seed the broader market to drive on- and off-line advocacy, nor to cover all the possibilities for valuable innovations on the business fitness lanscape through co-creation with customers, users, etc
5. And of course the $64,000 question: what does this all mean for business.
Time to get our thinking caps on.
PS. Take a look at Philip Ball's 2005 award winning book "Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another", for a different take on the whole power law distribution thing.
Hey, thanks for the link, Ben! About 1% of our membership showed up for our annual leaders summit last week. We pay extra special attention to this group because, in numerous ways, they are the driving force behind our business. Watch my blog for an update on the special treatment they got.
Hi Guys, good job on the 1% meme. Whether the number is accurate or not, its an important point that only a small number of customers will become these "co-creative" pseudo-employees. BTW this is very complimentory with my concept of the "hierarchy of customer experience". I recently wrote about the need to not only attract customers, but to also motivate them to participate, I believe it's only by putting the right tools in place and helping customers have a level of autonomy that you "motivate" these higher level interactions.
Here's the "attract & motivate" post: http://customersonfire.com/archive/attract-motivate/
Keep up the great work,
Gabriel -- Trendsetters, definitely. Online extroverts, even.
Graham -- Those are great questions. We're planning to look at a number of organizations and their participatory creation rate, for lack of a better term. My guess is that there will probably be exceptions to the rule, or the entire rule may crumble under a lot more scrutiny, but early indications are promising.
Karl -- A hierarchy is a great idea.
I've updated my hierarchy here to reflect "co-creation" as the pinnicle of the customer relationship, and i've also tried to illustrate the exponential value that companies can get from that kind of relationship. I've played around with the term "exponential marketing". Both the diagrams are here: http://blog.experiencecurve.com/archives/exponential-marketing-through-customer-experience
and the hierarchy is essentially:
Trust > Usability > Autonomy > Co-Creation
The idea being that trust and usability form a basic foundation that "enables" interaction, and "autonomy" and "co-creation" are where genuine motivation is derived. Motivation to be "part of" and a a valued contributer.
Magoos and Hells Angels went to Coringonville Ranch, but we did not pay to get in. we rode threw the fence. AMA paper wrote the article about how 1% always run everything.
As a 1% Magoo our bar was on western ave and about 70th street
We would never join the AMA. brother clubs in the 1960 were
Hells Angeles of Hawthorn, Hells Angeles of San Bernadion, Galloping Gooses(Lot of deaf and dumb members) down town LA Barbarins and Golphers.
Long Beach hells angels were just punks then.
We were white abou 25 members it takes a 100% vote to get in, our meeting place was a night club on florence and western ave. we often had sneaky peaks fri or sat night in Baldwin hills they last all night. we used to go to the mc races at ascot. one black used to drink in our bar, one american mexican hung out with us but he did not have a bike.
The bar was the eagles nest once called Sallies on western ave.
My name was, caz or cash my best friend then was we eddie he became a president of the berdo angeles but he had been a Maggo.
Police harassed us, we had a few fights with the angels over girls but they only lasted the one night and sometimes only a small group would fight. because we used to win. to be a Magoo you had to be 21 years old, angels were all ages and flaky.
We did no organized crime but as individuals we often got into a little trouble. I went into the army so did john. Eddie went to jail for a breakin. James Gardner, vic or vince and frenchy were angeles. Big Red, Mark, We Eddie, john, were Magoos
We do not fight members battles for them, but when picked on we will come to his aid. We are not racist but living in compton you learn about safety in numbers.
Today at age 70 I am still a 1%er of a different kind!
Gun Packing Christian, attending church but finding constant fault with organized religion.
Christians need to toughen up and learn their Bibles.
If they had the inner fortitude of a outlaw biker they would be capable of organizing all christian church enough to have a christian vote strong enough to get our great nation back on course.
I went from outlaw biker to Master Sargent E-8 Silver Star Vietnam.