McKinsey Study on User-Generated Content Confirms the LongTail

30 08 2007

Thanks to Karl Long who first posted this study on his blog ExperienceCurve.

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 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.




4 responses

30 08 2007
Craig Bettles

Good post. I like how Google is using prediction markets on internal ideas. I imagine it would also be a useful tool for management to evaluate which ideas have broad employee support – which might indicate easier buy-in, implementation and feasibility. Of course, that might lead to a little bit of a self-fulfilling nature to those ideas that are ranked highly – causing an interesting dynamic to the prediction market.

30 08 2007
Peter Turner

Hi Craig

Well it depends. IF you listed all the ideas and asked them to rate them maybe. But if you used prediction markets to “go deep” in different possible ideas to assess their potential impact to say employee motivation then you motivate not to game the system by responding truthfully.

Good chatting yesterday.

30 08 2007

Hi —

Fun is an important intangible. To master collaboration, it is important to visualize the networks and to map the intangibles. See:

Also, see the PM Summit (Europe) in Oct.


11 09 2007
» Why Users Create Content - rogerd’s notebook

[…] to Opensource.Association and Experience Curve for leading me to this study.) Add this post to: – Digg it – […]

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