For those uninitiated, the Pareto Principle - also called the Pareto rule, or the 80/20 rule - refers to a unique concept in marketing: that 20% of your effort produces 80% of your results. The 20% can take the shape of engaged employees, original blog posts, product images, media, and so on - basically something distinct produced by or infused into your company. The 80%, on the other hand, comes in the form of sales, clicks, shares, engagement, traffic, and similar measurable result metrics. The gist of the Pareto Principle in terms of social media content marketing is that while you will need to create something original, the bulk of your time should be spent on promoting it. Considering that this rule has been floating around in some fashion since economist Vilfredo Pareto first coined it in 1896, is it still relevant in the fast-paced, SMM-driven world of 2017?
In short, no - but not for the reasons you're probably expecting.
An Unexpected Google Twist
Anyone with half an eye on the evolution of Google algorithm updates can see the trend: Google wants high-quality, highly-relevant answers at the ready to keep searchers engaged and satisfied. That means out with black hat tactics, out with keyword stuffing, and in with fresh, original content that updated regularly. By that measure, promoting already-posted work should be a big no-no, right? Not exactly, explains Michael Schrage in the Harvard Business Review. Greater volumes of data and the artificial intelligence systems that classify it are transforming the way marketing messages are crafted and targeted. There's really no such thing as a "shot in the dark" when it comes to marketing any longer; there are virtual seas of data and metrics that can help make every post a ringer, regardless of platform. Schrage also notes that this phenomena is responsible for "super Paretos," redefining the ratio to levels as granular - and startling- as 1/150.
How Do I Use Paretos In My Business?
Paretos - the minimal effort-events that become the outsized result - can be pinpointed and harnessed through careful attention. Industry thought leader Larry Kim demonstrates this concept with a series of memorable cartoon ponies at industry events nationwide, dubbing high-performing social media content verified by metrics as "unicorns." Spotting and promoting your "unicorns" can and must be your lower-ratio number; Kim argues that creating article after article, fresh or no, is dividing effort and thus producing negligible results. If 100 articles get 1% engagement, but one particular article gets 20% engagement, your time is better spent getting that 20% winner into curated content platforms than simply populating your content range with more 1% performers. This is the Pareto principle in action, and it works! Kim has one important caveat for those undertaking a unicorn hunt: don't force it. Just because you want a specific effort to be high-converting doesn't mean you have the power to do so: you can't simply glue a horn to a donkey and call it a unicorn. Let your readers' metrics lead you to your organic unicorns - if it's interesting, thought provoking, and loved by your readers, the numbers will show for themselves.
In essence, the Pareto principle thrives for the same reason that smart business does: it focuses on selecting intelligent, simple efforts over complicated and reactionary ones, and reaps the benefits of outsized results. Your Pareto journey will start with a long look inward and a commitment to identifying your current high-performing pieces to mimic, backlink, highlight, and promote. From there, it's simply a matter of working the 80/20 rule - or the 10/90, or the 1/150 - in your favor through careful testing and observation of metrics.