90% of Content, 30% of Users

This week, Group B read an article titled “Your Biggest Social Media Fans Might Not Be Your Best Customers.” Published a little over two years ago, the piece discusses the social media audience and exactly what percent of that audience the brand might actually engage. Social media analytics, according to authors Andrew Reid and Alexandra Samuel, fails to inform brands that less than 30% of their users, on average, create 90% of the content they see.

The article dissects users into three broad categories: enthusiasts, dabblers, and lurkers. Enthusiasts primarily encompass those interacting with brands via social media. Dabblers and lurkers only post 2-4 times and less than one time per week, respectively, while the more prominent users make up most of the 30% online. What’s interesting about the “dormant duo” of the three- that is, dabblers and lurkers- is that they still browse Facebook once per day or more. They might not post or comment as often as the enthusiasts, but their eyes see the screen just as much. Therefore, as the article implies, gaining the most value from customers will involve monetizing the dormant duo much more effectively. It is crucial to measure their importance along with the enthusiasts, and otherwise, brands might catch themselves leaving money on the table.


The general takeaway from this piece might seem obvious: don’t forget about your customers who use social less frequently. One of the points of discussion in our class group highlighted the fact that the article lacked in the statistics department. We would like to have associated more engagement metrics of enthusiasts relative to the dormant duo. This would paint a clearer picture of just how meaningful those additional customer segments can be for brands on social.

The article did a great job of creating profiles from the three categories of users. The enthusiasts include the “eager shoppers,” those who utilize mobile capabilities more than any other format. Enthusiasts also shop at the big box stores and question their friends and families about those larger brands during the research and post-purchase phases of the buyer cycle. Dabblers, on the other hand, make up less than ten percent of the engaging users on Facebook; lurkers take even less of the cake.

Ending on a curt note, the article concludes by reminding managers that businesses will only be able to engage successfully with all of their customers by analyzing things like “transactional data, customer feedback, and click tracking” to name a few. Our group thought that it made a lot of sense that brands might be missing huge segments of their customers, and we also agreed that brands would have to combine various sources of insight to reach them.

Finishing the discussion, however, we might have enjoyed one or two more concrete examples of brands attempting to connect more closely with the dormant duo. Monetization and remaining relevant in the progressive and innovative realm of social today will ultimately be contingent upon businesses engaging with all three customer segments. For some further reading on this subject, you can check out this tidbit I tweeted this week.


  1. There’s actually quite a bit of research that shows that this 90/30 rule (or whatever the percentages) is actually the most common and optimal way for online communities to interact. Therefore, companies who only pay attention to the active or most active customers may in fact be missing out on huge customer groups that may look very different than the poster.

  2. Great summary of the article. What I’m left wondering is how do companies treat the enthusiasts differently than the the lurkers and dabblers? I’m also curious as to what your thoughts are in terms of how companies should try to engage the lurkers and dabblers. Maybe @geraldckane has some insights.

  3. Great summary! The 90/30 rule seems pretty logical, but I had never considered the business implications of social lurkers who don’t post or engage frequently. It is interesting to think about the challenges businesses face in reaching that group since we tend to think of everything in terms of what can easily be measured, the online footprint of the very actively engaged social media users. Businesses should definitely be thinking about how to stay aware of the big picture and not get caught up focusing only on things like how many likes they get on a post.

  4. This is definitely a really relevant topic for all of us. I think it resonated with my presentation on twitter analytics. I referred to the klout application that tracks the quality of your followers based on the extent they interract with your social media (distinguishing between static “lurkers” and active “enthusiasts”). I haven’t heard of the 90/30 statistic before, but I definitely think it is accurate and something to keep in mind when working with social media accounts.

  5. Interesting post.. A agree, the data needed to back up a lot of these claims was no where to be found. i am 100p a lurker, but i would think my habits for consumption are very high.

  6. yifanhong04233 · ·

    Great posts. Social media companies and other big brands should make a good use of those 30% users and get connected with the rest 70%. This article reminds me of the Twitter Analystics presentation. I have never read about the 90/30 rule, and I think it will be applied in more fields within digital business.

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