Seeing 90-9-1 As a Math Equation to Solve

The famous 90-9-1 of social networks is often debated as the numbers vary some based on perspective. Regardless of the numbers, most people lurk, many people contribute and a few people create. If you’re looking to up participation in your organizations ESN, here’s my advice, don’t put much energy in the 90 at all. Instead focusing on helping more of that 9 joining the 1 is a better use of your time. Just think what 5-10% greater sharing and collaborating will do for your company?

Start by flipping the equation and put 90% of your time and energy towards moving that 9% and far less effort towards the majority. The 90 will come along or move on so don’t waste time pushing or convincing. Instead pull them with value (more on this below). Next, think of your role as a multiplier, the “x” in a simple mathematical equation. Look at it less as 90-9-1 and more 90 x (9+1). To solve, you first add what’s in the parenthesis then “distribute”. What’s this look like? Distribution is like wandering over to where the majority (90%) do give their attention and show how contributing on the platform is working for the minority (10%) of others. You do this by using social proof. Most likely the vast majority are living and working in email. If so, sending out a weekly newsletter where you highlight key topics, conversations and successes can be eye-opening, grab some quotes from active users and encourage those people to be open to inquiry and have the most enthusiastic add a link to the signature. Maybe those in the 90 find most value in meetings? Help those 1 & 9 percenters who will be present in those meetings to share a story of their success in the network or tell of an ongoing relatable conversation, again just a subtle nudge.

There are plenty of ways to inform without cajoling. Show value regularly, in their “places”, over time is enough as meanwhile that 5-10% where you really put energy will be happily bringing value all over the company.