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Motivations for users to generate content

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A key aspect of Web 2.0 is letting users create or enhance a site’s content. This sounds great, but in practice can be hard to achieve. The Web is littered with dead forums, unreviewed products, spammed-out wikis, and other failed attempts to build user-created sites. Consulting giant McKinsey has posted a research brief, How companies can make the most of user-generated content, that helps explain why users add content to websites, and how to best encourage the process. The firm surveyed nearly 600 users of four German video sharing sites, and reached some interesting conclusions:

“We observed that users cite a variety of reasons for posting content online—chief among them, a hunger for fame, the urge to have fun, and a desire to share experiences with friends. While some users were open to the idea of being compensated for their contributions, that wasn’t a primary driver: the people we studied weren’t paid for their contributions.

We also found that a few users posted the most popular content. Depending on the site, just 3 to 6 percent of the membership added 75 percent of the videos available for download, and videos from just 2 percent of the member base accounted for more than half of all videos viewed. (As the “long-tail” effect would suggest, half of the videos posted accounted for only 10 percent of all downloads.)”

These findings are consistent with studies of business communities, McKinsey reports:

“At one cable company we studied, for example, more than half of the installers who contributed to an internal wiki said that social factors such as reputation building, team spirit, and community identification were the main factors motivating them to contribute. Only 20 percent cited the possibility of a financial bonus as their main driver.”

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14 september 2007 - Posted by | communication, culture, industry, trends, web 2.0

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