A fantastic blog post was put up last week, which has lead to a number of great discussions about member traction and engagement within communities. Dr. Mike Wu, Ph.D. posted metrics based on his study of over 200 online communities here.

As he writes, "The 90-9-1 rule simply states that:
  • 90% of all users are lurkers. They read, search, navigate, and observe, but don't contribute
  • 9% of all users contribute occasionally
  • 1% of all users participate a lot and account for most of the content in the community"
The data he present generally backs this up. The comments both there and in a related LinkedIn community explore how he defined his terms, constraints of the data, and how to encourage engagement.

Do you agree with his findings? Do you see them reflected in your Ning Networks?

I look forward to his future posts, where he promises to "dive deeper into the contribution level of the hyper-contributors, you community's real superusers."

Views: 47

Tags: community, contributors, data, network

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Comment by Garfield Creator on March 22, 2010 at 11:01am
Lurking :-)
Comment by Laura on March 22, 2010 at 11:12am
Hey Garfield - do you experience what he describes in the networks you belong to or manage? Would love to hear more details and examples.
Comment by Roby on March 22, 2010 at 11:19am
...lurking too ;-))

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Comment by Garfield Creator on March 22, 2010 at 1:19pm
Who me? I don't know much. I love being creative though and I think the best use of this information is for every Network Creator to post this article on their network and send a broadcast message to all their members about it asking them what they think. :-) This would be good not only to get insights from members but also to see how many respond as you hold a metaphorical mirror on the community. I wonder if lurkers would even be willing to contribute enough to at least identify themselves as that.

Also I think this study will make a lot of NCs breath a sign of relief and not feel like there are doing something wrong with their network if they have 1-10% active contribution. I would find it fascinating to flirt with the possibility of rekindling those fires of passion and interest. This study can be a launching point for NCs to both acknowledge what the study says and look for ways to come up with ideas to go beyond it. It also depends on what the purpose of the community is. I am sure if I creating a Lurking community this study would confirm there is a high likelihood it would be a huge success. :-)

I would love to know what causes people to participate in the first place because that is what I think you would hope you could duplicate a later stages rather than becoming like bubble gum that has lost its flavor over time.
Comment by Laura on March 22, 2010 at 1:52pm
Ha - I love it, "cybernetics promiscuity". I think as a network grows, the ratio gets closer to the 90-9-1, but with smaller communities you can keep participation high. I wonder where it shifts though!
Comment by Roby on March 22, 2010 at 2:03pm
well I can't speak much about our ning community as it's just starting developing, but I have for quite some time now facebook excperience on how different people interacting paterns. after the "hard" decission we had to make about which platform we would use for our first project, we have taken 100% the lurking factor into cosideration and we are also in the proccess finding and select the ideal admin(s) to try to keep at least the conetnt fresh and up to date. we are studing whta best to implement into the site to make it as interesting as possible for different kind of personalities within our particular audience...actually in planing this carefully is where most of our energy is going, of course what I love the most, the marketing side of it all too.

at this point and I know it has been mentioned already various time but just to remeber it and maybe understand why this feature is so important...

out of the only 1% is activley engaged members, there is another 9-15% of casual lurkers, who just participate here and there (dipending on the time and more important I guess the mood they are in) those people even if they don't feel in participating by taking the time in writing, they would spent 1 (one) second to click an "I Like" botton.... which has a double effect... motivating few lurkers to make here and there some cool comments and motvating the 1% of active member to trying always to deliver high quality conetnt, so their "I like" rank goes up... this is what happens on facebook..and this what makes it look and keep always in motion...if its not comments, its by posting a cool video, picture or whatever people can click " I LIke what YOU did right now"

OK, that's my 2 cent... I hope this litle post made maybe a butterfly effect :-) I will no longer be lurking today, but have to leave and do some work now. I wish all a nice evening.

Comment by Roby on March 22, 2010 at 2:06pm
I have to correct the 9-15%...because just by my example on facebook this is easily over 30% if not higher
Comment by Geneghis on March 23, 2010 at 3:12am
You're right Roby.
And a lot of people use facebook to send apps and other shits what take a lot of times, if we answer.
I'm on facebook to make publicity for our site. I'm on a lot of groups but I never go on them. Some are interestings and their messages are important.
Ning is same, but I think is like a private club with more sharing.
Members can see what it's happend on our Ning site and it's to the creator to make discussions too.
I think it's not important if we have a lot of members or no. I think the quality of discussions offer the envy to participate or not, to suscribe to the site or no. It's for this we make our Ning site open to the public. It's like this we get new members.
Comment by Chris Sommovigo on March 23, 2010 at 5:58am
The difference, I think, between Facebook (as an example) and Ning is that Facebook demands you are a member before permitting you to Lurk. Not every Ning network requires membership, so therefore there must be a portion of lurkers for whom there are no hard and fast metrics.
Comment by Kyle on March 23, 2010 at 9:36am
I've learned over the years (for the most part) that it basically comes down to what is in it for the poster. Everyone is busy and time is valuable. Do they have something to personally gain from contributing? If so, then they post. Now, the hope is that you create a community such that people will create lasting connections with fellow members such that they are willing to contribute if for no other reason than to answer questions or help other members. Personally, I've found that the easier it is to post, the more likely I am to do so (e.g. iPhone interfaces/apps to facebook and my Ning network make it very convenient to check and post).


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