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Online Communities Are Impacting Business – really?

Posted by TeamITI on November 6, 2008

usergeneratedRubicon Consulting‘s web practice team recently conducted a study which produced interesting results. The study shows that only a small percentage of users actively (and only from time to time) participates in online communities, therefore generating user content:

  • 90% of users are lurkers (i.e., read or observe, but don’t contribute).
  • 9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their time.
  • 1% of users participate a lot and account for most contributions: it can seem as if they don’t have lives because they often post just minutes after whatever event they’re commenting on occurs.

So what’s the buzz about user generated content if only a small percentage of web visitors are “creators”?  Well, it has been a long-known fact that the vast majority of online conversation is driven by a small group of web users — less than ten percent of them. The rest of the web community sits back and watches the interactions as a mostly-passive audience that only occasionally injects a few comments.

And that’s where the opportunity lies. Those personal reviews and comments about your service are far more influential than official reviews posted by a website or magazine, or information posted online by a you – the destination, hotel, tour company, attraction, airline etc.

The study continues to show that there are different types of web communities which have very different dynamics and user bases. Approaches that work well in one type of community may fail utterly in another, concludes the study.  There are five broad categories:

  • Proximity, where users share a geographic location (Craigslist is an example)
  • Purpose, where they share a common task (eBay, Wikipedia)
  • Passion, where they share a common interest (YouTube, Dogster)
  • Practice, where they share a common career or field of business (many online professional groups fall in this category; a great source for professional groups is LinkedIn)
  • Providence, where they discover connections with others (Facebook)

Business lesson: “Keep doing nothing except listening until you’ve worked out the reasoning and motivation behind those conversations, what it is customers really want, what types of customers hang around in your social media markets, who the most important or vociferous ones are and what makes them passionate about your product/service,” says Sachendra Yadav on his blog.

Read complete article here.

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