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 tools that provide people with ways to monitor social media, 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.

5 Comments on “The 10/90 Rule for Social Media”

  1. Great post and valuable message!

    I find it ironic that businesses will invest heavily in new technology and still place little importance on the human resources that will ultimately use and evaluate the efficiency of it.

    If a company doesn’t have the people within it to drive, create and measure their social media strategy; then it will fail and the CEO will validated his initial skepticism.

    1. Ray,

      I think it’s one of the biggest reasons why corporate social media programs fail. There’s so much focus on launching tools, and not enough on making sure the right people are in place to make the “magic” happen. At the end of the day, the tools are simply tools that need great content layered on to be effective.

      Thanks for the comment!


  2. I love the 10/90 rule. It’s a great way of capturing the ideas I conveyed in Part 5 of the Social Media Primer I’m developing through the Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) S.M.A.R.T. Blog (see the section entitled re: Allocate Resources to Maximize Effectiveness and Reduce Risk). I also address the importance of human capital management in Part 6 of the Primer. Here are links to each part:

    I am going to share this piece with the SMinOrgs Community and will include a link to it on the blog.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Courtney Hunt
    Founder, SMinOrgs Community

  3. Pingback: A regra 10/90 para as mídias sociais | Mídias Sociais

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