Do you overlap or divide?

Conquer the newcomer problem by dividing people into groups of 150, suggests Richard Millington, online community builder. This is to literally dividie into 150-strong cells. This could work, depending on the niche involved, but if they don’t like the idea of being divided in this way (ie its counter-cultural) then maybe not. Forrester’s social technographic profile tool, using 2008 data, below could be useful for this if they could suck in more granular data say for individual professions?

The Social Technographics Profile Of Your Customers

The Social Technographics Profile Of Your Customers

Two views & one after thought on this. Firstly,  that from a wider community perspective many small communities make a larger community. And this is true of the offline world. Plus from individual pov the influence of person with membership of many small communities can equal that of a person with a few large communities (see earlier post). This in turn crosses over to Forresters recent social techographic point from the groundswell blog that user metrics can be counted across social networks, not just within one network — ie the obverse point about the power of overlap compared to division in community strategy.

Of course simply treating each customer (aka community member) with care can also do wonders!

Reconciling social technographics and 90-9-1

Useful thoughts from the groundswell blog:

Forrester’s Social Technographics surveys show that when it comes to social content 21% of online US consumers are Creators, 37% are Critics (those who react to content created by others), and 69% are Spectators.

The 90-9-1 principle, recently publicized by Community Guy Jake McKee at, says that in a community, the rule of thumb is that 90% of visitors only view the content, 9% only comment or react to it, and 1% create it.

This confuses people, and I often get questions about who’s right. In fact, there is no contradiction between these two statements. Let’s examine why.

First of all, the 90-9-1 principle applies to a single site or community. Let’s suppose we are talking about, for example. 90-9-1 says that 1% of its members create content. But our surveys might detect a TiVo community member who just reads the Tivo posts, but who is an enthusiastic Barack Obama supporter at Forrester’s surveys would call her a Creator. But with regard to, Jake’s rule says she’s in the 90% or lurkers. No contradiction, it just depends on whether you’re looking at a single site or across all sites. Since Creators (in the Forrester sense) include people who create content at any site, they add up to a lot more than 1%

Second, our groups are designed to overlap. Since we also identify Collectors (who organize content) and Joiners (who join social networks), there’s no strict hierarchy. Some Joiners are Creators, some Creators are Joiners, but neither group is a subset of the other. (When creating Social Technographics I attempted to create a hierarchy of behaviors, but carefully examining the data convinced me that was a mistake.) So we allow our categories to overlap. 90-9-1, which examines fewer activities, can accommodate mutually exclusive categories.

Third, 90-9-1 is a rule of thumb. For example, according to, only 0.16% of YouTube visitors upload content, far less than 1%. A community of Webmasters will have a lot more contributors than a community of senior citizens. Our surveys are actual data independent of site-to-site variation. (So I don’t get to create a nice neat rule, while Jake can.)

What’s it mean? It means that 90-9-1 is a good rule of thumb for sites, while Social Technographics is a good way to look at populations. And it also means that you should check the Social Technographics Profile of your customers first, to see how many of them are likely to contribute if you put them in a community.