McKinsey conducted a study this summer to learn more about what motivates people to participate in collaborative technologies. They surveyed 573 users of four leading online video-sharing sites and then examined the blogs of one of the sites.
Among the findings, I found the following of particular interest:
- The motivation for people to create and share content support the findings from a BCG study of open source programmers: to be creative, get known, share ideas.
- While some users were open to the idea of being compensated for their contributions, wasn’t a primary driver.
- Few users posted the most popular content. Between 3 to 6 percent of the membership added 75 percent of the content from among the member base. These figures resemble those reported in studies of other kinds of participatory media, including wikis, bulletin boards, and photo-sharing sites, where 5 to 10 percent of the users contribute half to all of the content.
- Visitors under 25 years of age made up the bulk of the video-viewing audience, but members in the 25- to 44-year-old age group contributed equally to postings—suggesting that working-age people would be open to participation in enterprise settings. A sense of sharing drives these older users, who tend to forward videos to friends even more frequently than do their younger peers.
- Those who contributed to an internal work wiki said that social factors such as reputation building, team spirit, and community identification were the main factors motivating them to contribute.
- To encourage well-connected employees to post ideas to the work wiki, managers at one company examined its internal e-mail system to identify key staffers with wide social networks within it. They then encouraged these employees to post suggestions about improving the company’s processes. Identifying thought leaders and promoting their participation boosted the number of contributions and improved the quality of the postings.
- Other companies strive to make collaboration fun: at Google, for instance, employees place online bets (prediction markets like inkling.com for instance) on the likelihood that particular ideas will be adopted. Intuit uses a rotation program that invites selected staffers to contribute to the company’s internal online dialogs.
As we posted earlier, the use of the “lead user method” in product development concentrates on that top ten percent of active members. People who are motivated to learn by innovating. Concentrate serving the needs of this group and deploy content for lurkers to consume as they build confidence to participate and share their own stuff.