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On 90/10 or 10/90


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I recently came across a new forum, where the forum admin wanted to focus on health because of a personal interest in entering healthcare.  

She created over 50 boards in 7 categories for all things related to health: everything from medical equipment and hospital administration to fitness and exercise, mental health, community and public health, pharmaceuticals, alternative medicine, occupational health, and women's and men's and geriatric and pediatric health.  It was everything!

There was very little expertise or mastery shown in any of the boards, much less activity. 

Even if the forum admin personally pursued a career in healthcare, nobody would ever have the range of expertise for all of these.  You specialize in a particular field or focus.  Her approach to the community is the 90% / 10% approach, where she was attempting to cover as broad of health (the 90%) at a very superficial level (only 10% deep).

Criag Bohl: The 90/10 rule - The Art of Coaching Football

The reality is that the 90% / 10% approach is completely unattainable for new and independent communities.  You cannot compete with the 'billion-dollar' platforms like Reddit, Facebook, etc. They've swallowed up shallow, everyday conversations.      

Where independent communities can still win is by flipping the focus.  Go for the 10% / 90% approach: 

  • Focus on the tightest, most specialized niche and demonstrate mastery, expertise, authority, timeliness, or some other value that is unmatched by anyone else.
  • Instead of being shallow, go as deep as possible.  Capture 90% of the knowledge and long-tail discussion for that one specific niche and be amazing at it.
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One of the reasons why social media has so much misinformation and fake news is because social media content is user generated content and most users are normal people who do not have expertise on any specific subjects. However, in communities you can rope in experts and build a platform with authentic content. If you are creating niche communities, for instance, health niche community, you can bring in experts on health care or writers who specialize in health articles. While I believe focusing on boarder niche like health will be difficult, a better approach is to focus on micro niche, for instance instead of all health related topics, you can focus on mental health, or even within mental health, you can just focus on anxiety. Micro niches have better chances of becoming successful

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