Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The 90:9:1 Principle

LinkedIn, the first major U.S. social networking site to hold an IPO (May 19th), expanded its U.S. user base 6.7 percent in May to 33.4 million. As I have indicated in pervious posts, I am a huge fan of LinkedIn. However, lately I am definitely witnessing the 90:9:1 principle.

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LinkedIn now reports to have more than 100 million registered users worldwide. The last time I wrote about the site, I indicated that great networks are not built overnight and emphasized the need for commitment. I participate on LinkedIn on a regular basis for myself, as well as for a client. This past month, I even took on a new LI challenge and began a discussion group. Nevertheless, thanks to the amount of time I spend on the site, specifically in numerous discussion groups, it has become evident that there is participation inequality, better known in internet culture as the 90:9:1 principle. The term first surfaced in 2006. Simply stated; 1% of people create content, 9% edit or modify that content and 90% view the content without contribution.

As a LinkedIn advocate, I am both a content creator and modifier. More importantly, I am committed. Three factors motivate me:

1.) Thanks to LinkedIn, in addition to engaging and staying connected with people from my pre-Web 2.0 network, I have connected with new people that I most probably would have never met through my Tribe’s limited circle.

2.) LinkedIn is a great site to aggregate information. Over a year ago I learned about QR codes, a new venture I am embarking on, the subject of my next post.

3.) I am very bullish about the future of LinkedIn, now that it has a war chest (cash). It will continue to grow and improve, thus facilitate for me the opportunity to create a virtual enterprise. A virtual enterprise is a network of independent individuals or companies, linked by technology that will share skills, costs and access to one another’s networks/markets. Thanks to their collaborative synergy, they will organize and work together on a for or non-profit objective (e.g., launch a new product or service, a social movement, political campaign, etc.). Once the goal is achieved, the virtual enterprise dissolves. Since the virtual enterprise is more often than not improvised, it can succeed without formally incorporating or establishing a traditional brick & mortar company.

What is your level of participation on LinkedIn?


  1. Jim I used to be int he 90%...now I guess I qualify as 9%.

    Also embarking on QR code project for sales force automation. Look forward to sharing ideas.

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  3. Jim, as you know, I am a LinkedIn power user with a network in the double digit thousands.

    But if it isn't producing profits, what good is it?

    LinkedIn is merely the modern day wrench. It tightens the screws, but it can't make the car run. Making the car run requires a host of other checks and balances before the engine purrs.

    I really like LinkedIn and have made some terrific connections there (including you!) But people seem to be growing more imbalanced about the use of social media, to the exclusion of other important tactics. Don't you think?

  4. Do you really think that 1 million people create content on LinkedIn? Personally I think that sounds like a lot but honestly I dont spend much time on it.

    One of my classes in college dedicated a week of classes to creating a profile and showing us how to update and stay current. Regretfully I haven't been back since I got my job.

    My company doesn't talk about the benefits of LinkedIn at all. Do you think if companies promoted it from within more people would become engaged?

  5. Jim, I occasionally contribute to some of the Linked In groups that I joined. I also linked my Twitter account with Linked In. However, I agree with Victoria regarding the ROI ---just not sure that it is there for the amount of time it takes to develop and post content. Question: So far I have resisted upgrading to the Premium membership. have others found the upgrade worth it?

  6. As you know, Jim, I am also a PowerUser of LinkedIn, posting at least daily, tweaking my profile for visibility, expanding my network, and participating in numerous discussion groups. My objective is to begin to establish my "expert" status and polish my brand, so that my reputation precedes me when I reach out to clients. The key is that magic formula between too much and not enough.

  7. As with anything else in life, your mileage may vary. There is a danger of appearing too much the expert on LinkedIn or any social channel. There is resistance to a lot of self promotion and I have scaled back from participating in a lot of groups because of that.

    People typically go farther faster by sharing knowledge and acknowledging the knowledge/contributions of others.

  8. I host a group specific to my clients/sponsors and frequently use Linkedin to identify prospect client contacts and their backgrounds if I don't know them. I only connect with people I have met either via phone and/or in person. Our company (which is sales driven)is a big proponent of linkin as a networking and communication tool. Linkedin also allows you to control your own message/background about your business persona/profile rather than relying on others to do it for you. I find it an excellent way to stay in touch with my larger network by passing along open job positions and helping other job hunters (no, I'm not a recruiter). While you may not always be looking for the next job opportunity, it would be foolish to only reach out to your network when you want something (aka...help in finding a new job or other).

  9. Great comments. Thank you everyone. I really enjoyed the wide range of thoughts. Regardless, LI is there for everyone, you make of it what you want (connections, potential leads, knowledge, etc.), but if you are a sustainable networker into long term connections you already know networking takes time and commitment.

  10. Jim, I think you hit the nail on the head with the 90:9:1 rule not only in regards to Linkedin, but all social media and content creation on the internet. Like the questionable emergence of Google+ , most people join for the sake of running to something new, and in the end they do not actively participate.

    I was itching to receive my invitation to plus, but now that the lottery ticket came, I'm just not that interested.

    It's funny watching all the so called social media "experts" race to build up another huge following on plus. I'm going to sit this one out on the sidelines!