THE 90-9-1 RULE

Posting online can feel like screaming into the abyss — it’s hard to get a feel of how many people have read your article. However, quoting German philosopher Nietzsche, “if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee,” your audience online may be larger than it feels. Here, Duncan Singer, account executive at Stone Junction, explains the laws governing online interactions.

Lurking online defines the action of joining an online group without posting or engaging with the community. To explain this widespread phenomenon, the most popular explanation, based on the Pareto principle, is the 90-9-1 rule.

The 90-9-1 rule states that for every poster of original content nine people will comment and 90 will observe without interacting. This was investigated in a study by researcher Dr. Trevor van Mierlo, using data from four digital health social networks. The study proved 1-9-90 weighting and showed that 1.3 per cent of users were on average super-users, posting more than 25 per cent of the content.

The implications of this are very interesting for PR. The definition of the wide-reaching catchment of a single post allows for accurate readership figures to be calculated. It also shows the importance of maintaining super-users to forge more interaction for posts in online communities.

It is important to not ignore the lurkers, as, quoting American-Romanian engineer Joseph Juran, your audience can be divided into the “the vital few and the useful many.” This means that even if a small per cent of audience generates most of your sales, the only way to maintain growth is to invest in contacting and creating a relationship with lurking viewers.

A good way of generating contact with these lurking viewers is by engaging an agency with the tools and knowledge to convert lurkers into engaged members of a community. At Stone Junction, we have a track record of developing online followings for businesses across multiple social media platforms.

The abyss is deep, but it is not void of life. By generating good reach and engaging content, posting online can transform into a wholly interactive experience from start to finish.

To start creating your online content plan, contact me today at +44 (0)1785 225416 or e-mail

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