The big dilemma: Pareto Principle and Social Bookmarking

Disclaimer: If you think I am totally nuts with this article, I don’t blame you. Sometimes I get the same feeling too 🙂

All of us know about the Pareto Principle which states that for many phenomena, 80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the causes. I am reading Citizen Marketers by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba and they talk about “1% Rule.” 1% Rule is simple – “About 1 percent of the total number of visitors to a democratized forum will create content for it or contribute content to it”

Let us now look at both the postulates – Pareto Principle and 1% Rule together. You will agree with me that there is no research to prove that these 1% people are a subset of the 20% in the Pareto Principle who can make things happen. In fact, if all the 1 percenters are part of the 20% in Pareto Principle, Pareto principle will fail.

With that in background, here is my dilemma:

There is a big rise in social bookmarking sites like, digg, blinklist etc. Whenever something gets to the first page of digg or the traffic to the source article shoots up. This seems like a good thing or does it really? If any article gets extremely popular to the point that it is favored by 80% of the people, the other 20% are not reading it. Should we follow the 80% crowd or should we follow the 20% crowd? If popularity is what we want, then we can get to see that in social bookmarking sites. If we follow that, then we are in the 80% category and our destination will be same as the destination for the 80% of the people. However, we all want to reach the destination that the 20% are aiming for.

So, the big question is – how can we reach the destination of 20% by following the footsteps of the 80%?

If you disagree with me, please read the disclaimer at the beginning of the article 🙂