PR has argued for a long time that one of the keys to successful communications is defining the right people to talk to. Ultimately, who are the most influential people that your audience look to. Until a little thing called Social Media came along, this meant journalists. Having spent the last four years working in digital/social media communications I can tell you that you we’re increasingly seeing these influencers emerge within a whole host of social contexts online – social networks, blogs, community sites, forums and so on.

So, what’s 90-9-1? Well it was something that I’ve been seeing crop-up on a number of other blogs, Twitter feeds and I think it originated with the BtoBOnline magazine. It essentially states that 1 per cent of a community contributes 90 per cent of the content online and are by far and away the most influential. The remaining 9 is the percentage of people that interact and comment on this content and in addition to this, the 90 also represents the number of people that passively (read/view) engage with the content.

While I think this a very smart way of looking at audiences within social media, I think that it lacks flexibility in terms of the the communities themselves. I can tell you from personal experience that the ratio of influence and content production is very different from say a gaming community and a community around fitness. What this rule does show us is the need to map out the ratio of influence based on the specific communities you’re looking at, it would be extremely helpful to know that the community you’re targeting is say  80-15-5. By establishing this, you can better develop your strategy and resulting tactical plan to the point that you’re actually using the structure of the community to your (and their) benefit.