Twitter And The 80/20 Rule

Twitter80_20

Social media isn’t for everyone.  But in today’s economic climate, small businesses are attracted to the inexpensive, self-promotion new media channels in droves.  The problem I’ve been seeing recently though is nothing new; the old 80/20 rule still applies.

It all starts out well enough, until like anything shiny and new, the excitement quickly wears to a grinding halt.  Like dating a pretty girl with nothing in common, it’s fun for awhile, until you realize you have nothing to really talk about, and the physical attraction becomes nothing short of boring, and eventually, even annoying.  Social media can be a fickle date.

That leaves a small percentage of marketers who are drawn to the sharing of relevant, cutting-edge information.  Or so we think.  Many of us have become quite vocally skeptical, which for the short run makes us look very smart indeed.  We might look very intelligent for the short term to those who can’t comprehend our brilliance – but it’s a very bright light that can just as quickly burn out.

Recently, one of my favorite resources, TechCrunch reminded me that 80% of Twitter participants are… for lack of a better word… squatters.  Many of them are web 2.0 gurus who shouted a collective cry of self-assurance.  Now some are stepping up, like those at Shoemoney Blog to let us all know they’ve been right since day one.  And perhaps they have been right in  waiting for this all to transpire in due time.

The point here is that Twitter (and other social media channels) are not unlike any other web based media.  The early adopters rush to grab their place in line, hoping to manipulate their advantage into megabucks.  How many people grabbed Twitter account names, Facebook pages, or Myspace sites in hopes of selling them to the brands that followed into the social media sphere?  How many of those sites are inactive because of that early greed today?

But I digress, and think  TechCrunch put it best: “Twitter is no different than any other form of social media. A small fraction of users produce the overwhelming amount of content, even if it is just 140 characters at a time. Everyone else just drinks from the stream.”

There it is… the good ol’ 80-20 rule.  80% of your outcomes come from 20% of your input.  Surprise! Nothing new here. The biggest results come from approximately 20% of (in this case) users.  But there’s good news here.  Noone is forcing anyone to provide content to get anything out of social media.  It’s perfectly acceptable to monitor a variety of news and information whtout engaging anyone for any reason.  You can learn quite alot that way through research and good old listening. But like all rules of quid pro quo…you get what you give.  Don’t give?  Don’t expect to get.  It’s a pretty simple equation.

But if you don’t engage in any conversations, or provide any content, I personally don’t think you have the right (or knowledge) to criticize others who do (or don’t do).   Just sit back and enjoy the ride – and start with what I believe to be the #1 rule of good marketing – listening.

So how are you using Twitter in your business or personal life?  What do you expect to get, or give from this relatively new channel in the marketing mix?  I’m “all ears”…

5 Responses to “Twitter And The 80/20 Rule”

  1. Twitter And The 80/20 Rule « smartbrandblog « Toss the Scoundrels Says:

    […] Twitter And The 80/20 Rule « smartbrandblog Twitter And The 80/20 Rule « smartbrandblog […]

  2. Wolfy Says:

    check out tweetstats.com. I’ve found that it’s far less than 20% real conversations for most people. We all have a core, and that core gets most of our attention, and the rest is noise that we filter out with tweet deck.

    -M

  3. Cara Mandart Says:

    I tune out those who just post a link and nothing else to say. or self promote all day. I dont have time to click links all day but if i see someone talking about something i might respond back, and then we start a conversation. sadly most people, inclusing on facebook, are just promotiong their jobs and not really posting good content or engaging. a group of us are launching the http://www.socialmediaclub.org virginia beach chapter in hopes that groups of us get together to talk social media about how to use it better!

  4. Peter Taylor Says:

    Love the 80/20 rule – see http://www.thelazyprojectmanager.com – and I am completely i to tweetfacelinkblogging

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