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The 90-9-1 Rule: Reaching Out to the 90

You’ve built your ski instructor Facebook page. But is anyone out there? Perhaps you were expecting long threads, filled with in-depth discussion about powder skiing and mogul techniques, along with lively debates about the merits of New England vs. Western skiing. Instead, you only see a handful of replies to your posts. Unless you make a mistake then a bunch of people jump right in. What’s up with that?
You have just experienced the phenomenon known as the 90-9-1 rule.
90_9_1-rule

Exploring the 90-9-1 Rule

Simply put, the 90-9-1 rule states:
In any group of 100 people:
– One percent of its members are active communicators. They set the tone, and become the thought leaders of the group. If you started the group, you, along with a few of your friends or fellow ski instructors form the one percent.
– Nine percent are somewhat active, engaging with the other members on occasion. These are usually. Some of these folks either support your philosophy of teaching, and add to the discussion, or disagree with you, and engage in debate. Others are what ski instructors sometimes refer to as professional students. They have many questions, and embrace any opportunity to get them answered.
– 90 percent are lurkers, content to simply listen or follow the other 10 percent. Some are not sure of which questions to ask. Another segment of the 90 percent is simply brand new to social media, and is not yet comfortable with the posting process.

How do these ratios affect your ability to build a brand? Read on to find out.

Lurker or Audience

The lurker status of the 90 percent sparks many a lively discussion. Some social media specialists view lurkers as an audience, who will either applaud or walk out. Case in point: Your post “likes” on Facebook. You probably notice a number of people who like your different posts, but hardly ever engage in the conversation. Liking, however, is a form of active listening. When users like your posts, they are telling Facebook that they want your content to appear in their news feed. Even if they are not participating in the thread, this implies that they see value in what you are saying.
On the other hand, and adverse signal to noise ratio can discourage group members from active participation.

The Noisy Nine Percent

As your Facebook ski page community grows, you will need to identify which of your nine percenters are driving students to your services, and which are creating noise. This is an issue that is common among people who follow a specific technique. You see it in PMTS, CrossFit and bikram yoga communities, where zealots make it impossible to ask a question, or challenge any of the system’s basic methods. Sam Fiorella of Sensei Marketing describes this beautifully:

Volume and reach of one’s social presence becomes less important; the relationships among community members and the context of their dialogue grow in importance. At a minimum, there are greater complexities in managing online communities, identifying influencers, and deriving meaning from those engagements. This is the great paradox of social media marketing: As our communities become larger, the more important one-to-one relationships become. If not the one-to-one relationships between your brand and your customer, certainly we should be paying attention to the one between the customers themselves.

Students in ski class often form friendships that keep them coming back to the same group — and the same instructor — over and over again. The same thing can happen online. Create an environment on your Facebook page where there is no such thing as a stupid question, and where polite debate encouraged.

Don’t be discouraged if your early forays into Facebook land does not get the response you hoped for. Remember there are most likely 10 more people for everyone that likes or shares an article and 90 more people behind everyone that comments on an article.

Some of your 90 percent might keep their silent audience status, but if they like what they see they will continue to follow you work and be a resource for for future social feedback.

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