If you are going to use Online Communities to improve your corporate productivity, its important to understand the ideas because some of the challenges are a little different as are some of the opportunities.
Gartner's The Four Levels of Engagement:
- Up to 3 percent of individuals will be creators, providing original content and can be advocates that promote your product and services.
- Between 3 percent and 10 percent of individuals will be contributors, essentially followers, who add to the conversation, but don't initiate it. They can recommend products and services as customers move through a buying process, looking for purchasing advice.
- Between 10 percent and 20 percent of individuals will be opportunists, who can further contributions regarding purchasing decisions. Opportunists can "add value" to a conversation that's taking place, while walking through a considered purchase.
- Approximately 80 percent of individuals will be lurkers (and all users start as such), essentially spectators, who reap the rewards of online community input, but only absorb what is being communicated. However, they can implicitly contribute and validate indirectly reporting the value from the rest of the community.
The biggest challenge is the number of people participating on internal online communities. If you have a potential customer community of tens-, hundreds of thousand or millions of customers, having 3% creators, 3 to 10% contributors, 10 to 20% opportunists is probably survivable. The large numbers of potentials mean that you'll get enough members contributing to make a difference.
If you have a team of 50 people who are distributed around the world and you want them to participate, 3% participation is pretty scary. [Editor: actually, it's your participation that's pretty scary.]
The opportunity really lays in creating a way for the lurkers to participate. Prediction markets, polls, questions and answers must be aligned in ways that get meaningful input from a broader group without requiring large investments of time.
The goal of two to three minutes a week should be the first step in engaging lurkers. You must track when they have engaged and acknowledge it. The immediate recognition of a lurkers new engagement will be key to engaging them further. Their engagement must be meaningful and productive if companies are going to derive value from online communities.
People participate and engage in a community because they feel recognized and that they are a part of something larger than themselves. For businesses this offers a great advantage. Projects engage people in the business and intelligent use of online communities increase focus and productivity.
Photo credit: jeremiah_owyang