Friday, September 07, 2007

The Pareto Principle and Corporate Blogging

At my workplace, I have been evangelizing about blogging to the point where we now have about 30 blogs going. Recent discussions on how far our corporate blogosphere will take us towards an improved information distribution system have brought up objections like, "a large percentage of the population will never surf over the blogs and see what's been posted."

My response: So what?

The Pareto Principle is the formal name for the 80-20 rule. The Pareto principle states that for many phenomena 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. For example, it's a fairly well-documented fact that most sales come from a small number of salesmen. For the bloggers and commenters where I work, we're going to find out that 80% of our traffic and comments come from 20% of our visitors. Furthermore, I think it's fair to suggest that 20% of our workforce will provide 80% of our visits.

What does all this mean? Well, it means that the visitors and commenters are the ones who are interested in providing the integrated solutions to our work problems, as evidenced by their desire to surf across the blogs and find out what else is going on. A large percentage of the workforce will be content to put in their 40 hour weeks, do a great job on their work and then go home. The fact that our hit counts won't ever top 30-40 hits a day for all but the most popular blogs is not indicative of failure. The fact that the information is now available to the 20% of the population that cares is success in and of itself.

Furthermore, even if your comments are coming from just a handful of readers, it does not indicate failure. Persistent access to your posts and comments is what matters. All you really want is your portion of those 20% who are passionate about our mission.

For some blogs, like our IT group's blog, we can expect to see days of massive hits. From time to time, they will post things that will be of interest to the 80% of the workforce who does great work, but whose interests lie elsewhere. Other than that, it's the access to the information from people you would never come into contact with otherwise that is the great payoff for blogging and commenting.

Speaking personally, I'm glad we started this. Already I've expanded my professional network through the blogs that come from units located far away from me. To me, that's the payoff right there.

For more good stuff, visit the Carnival of Better Blogging.

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