The 10/90 Rule for Social Media

A few years ago, Avinash Kaushik created the 10/90 rule for Web analytics.

It is based on the idea that if you have a $100 budget to “make smarter decisions on the Web”, invest $10 in tools and vendor contracts, and $90 in people. It’s a rule that he learned first-hand after discovering that Web analytics tools became more valuable after hiring analysts to interpret what all the data meant.

In many respects, the 10/90 rule can be applied to social media.

There are a wide variety of social media tools that provide people with ways to monitor, engage, have conversations, and create, publish and distribute content. At the end of the day, however, they are just tools that have to be powered by people to really take advantage of their features and functionality.

The focus on tools is one of the interesting parts of social media. It may reflect the high-tech world’s obsession with new, shiny gadgets – something that are launched at a dizzying pace within social media.

This obsession, however, overshadows the tremendous amount of work happening behind the scenes by a growing army of community managers, strategists, tacticians, analysts, writers and consultants. These people transform social media tools into valuable, effective and engaging parts of a company’s communication, marketing and sales activities.

For companies engaged in social media or thinking about climbing on the bandwagon, the 10/90 rule should be an important consideration when creating strategic and tactical plans.

As much as it is important to use the right social media tools to achieve your objectives and meet the needs of your target audience, hiring the right people needs to be an important part of the process.

This means hiring people with strong skills and solid experience as opposed to inexpensive, junior employees who have a strong grasp on social media tools. Companies need people who can execute strategically and tactically, and should not be afraid to provide healthy compensation to people who can get the job done.

Without people (aka 90%), the social media landscape would be a pretty dull, uninspiring place. The reality is people don’t get as much attention as the tools but I suspect this will start to change as the market continues to evolve and mature.