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Why people participate in online communities

Social Platforms – the 1% rule
90% of users are lurkers
9% of users contribute sometimes
1% of users actively participate and are responsible for almost all the action

Why do they participate?

  • Anticipated Reciprocity (gebruiker verwacht bruikbare hulp en informatie terug)
  • Increased recognition (gebruiker verwacht (h)erkenning)
  • Sense of efficacy (gebruiker verwacht met bijdrage een effect te hebben op resultaat)
  • Aanvullend worden de volgende drijfveren genoemd:
  • Connections within the community
  • Emotional Safety
  • Common emotional connection
  • Altruism

thenextweb.org: why people participate in online communities/

meer info:
Web 2.0 and the new tribalism
What’s Behind the Success of Web 2.0? A Psychological Interpretation

What are the ways that online communities can overcome participation inequality and increase users’ participation?

  1. Make it easy for users to contribute, make them feel confident with their contributions, and share their contributions with other members in the community -> Feeling of influence
  2. Make participation a side effect. Let users participate with zero effort by making their contributions a side effect of something else they’re doing. For example, Amazon’s “people who bought this book, bought these other books” recommendations are a side effect of people buying books. You don’t have to do anything special to have your book preferences entered into the system.
  3. Reward users’ contributions and allow for markers of their contributions. Promote and feature top contributors > Sense of recognition, sense of community, fulfill anticipated reciprocation Allow users to rank each other within the community and comment on contributions > sense of community, feeling of influence
  4. Platform should be flexible enough to transform with the changing needs of its members -> feeling of influence
  5. According to virtual community pioneer Jonathan Bishop, online community managers need to also change the beliefs of lurkers on their site in order to increase participation. Lurkers, believe that they do not need to post messages or that they are being helpful by not posting. Such beliefs prevent them from carrying out their desires to be social and participate in the community. Therefore it is up to the community managers to change this attitude by use of persuasive text or by other means.

A few more useful tips for community managers

  1. Simplicity is key – participating in the community should be simple for the user. The simpler it is, the higher the participation rate will be.
  2. Allow some actions to be performed by non-registered users.
  3. Give people something good to talk about – as always, content is king. If your content is interesting and appealing enough, people will be eager to contribute.
  4. Display the activity on your site. No one likes to go into an empty restaurant. Already on the homepage show users all the great stuff that’s happening within the community.
  5. Offline events are a great way to make a community even more cohesive and virtually active.

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