Not to get off on a rant here, but why are you asking why? Since we see most of the questions posted (at least in the areas I frequent) go unanswered, or are answered with call your CSM, how long do you honestly think it takes for someone to come to the conclusion that they'll find nothing useful here and just stop coming, let alone commenting.
The better metric to measuring is how many users are there, how often do they log in. How many users have only ever been to the community once. How many times has Cisco directly told someone not to seek their answers here?
I invite you to call me at your convenience at 408-902-2027 to discuss your frustrations. This Collaboration Community is not a technical support community, and thus not run by the support organization. I think in the WebEx sections we could have done and still need to do a better job in communicating this to visitors, such as yourself. Apologies for any frustrations this may have caused. Nicole, the new WebEx community manager, is working on adding those clarifications to the WebEx community to set the right expectations and quickly notify and redirect those who post technical support questions so they get the best help to resolve their issues. Longer-term we are working on restructuring the community which I think will help clarify further.
Collaboration Community Manager
I'm not sure our expectations for this community are completely in line, Gregory. I am hoping to spur dialog on the opportunities (and barriers) presented by introducing new forms of collaboration into the enterprise. While technology is a key part of all this, I don't envision this as an efficient or effective support channel.
While I have a lot of experience and expertise regarding the effects adoption technology can have on productivity, organizational design, and corporate culture, I'd hate to sit here as some sort of talking head. There's so much more experience and insight out there we can tap in to if this community becomes a vibrant and interactive place to exchange ideas. To that end, I return to the original question: What drives response?
- Is it only when the technical barriers are so low that it is dead simple to jump in?
- Does culture temper the desire to respond? Are you concerned about appearing critical or the ramifications of a public disagreement?
- Does response require an expectation of response? Does the post need to be "genuine" enough? What about the likelihood that the poster will be open to new ideas and actually read/respond?
- Is the content itself compelling enough? Do I have something to offer? Is my expectation of response and participation in line with the community?
When I was helping my previous company adopt tools like blogs and wikis, we faced similar challenges. We had great results in terms of page views, and the time spent on pages, but we were hoping for much more interaction. We wanted to unlock the feedback loop that "social" tools can provide.
Gregory - thanks for participating, and Laura, thanks for shepherding this feedback for us. In your case, Gregory, it sounds like we have a mismatch regarding the expectations of the community.
Anyone else out there have any feelings about why certain content gets high traffic, but low "engagement?"
I said it above but I'll expand for the uninitiated....It has to do with everyone's favorite radio station: WIIFM
Anyone in training circles would know this as a matter of course.
W - What's
I - In
I - It
F - For
M - Me
You should probably have a read of 90-9-1.com which explains how communities like these tend to work. 90% lurk. 9% may edit/comment on stuff and 1% actually create and post content.
As far as technical hurdles. I don't know if the registration process has been overhauled but it was a nightmare to register for this forum when I did it.
And I don't believe my expecatations for the community are that far out of line at all. I simply expect that an honest attempt to answer all questions be made by Cisco. Certainly if you check out my posts I probably post more original content, more hey this is my expirence I hope someone can benefit from it kind of stuff than requests for support.
I don't mind sharing my expertise, but I fully expect Cisco to do the same. Even when it is technical knowledge people seek.
A cisco.com userid and password is needed to post on the community. The nice thing is that it is the same cisco.com id that gets users into other parts of cisco.com (single id). For most, it isn't a challenge to register. For most, it is a one page registration form and then the person activates using a link from an email. Having said that, I think the user interface could be improved. I know that the cisco.com folks are investigating it as part of an overall cisco.com improvement project. From the community side, many of us have put in requirements for a registration-light process.
Re the 90-9-1 metric, yes that is true. Thanks for sharing that. And I think the 9% might depend on the type of community.
I think the 1-9-90 observation is pretty well known by now, and it certainly makes sense for Amazon and a lot of public sites, but I'd hope we're going for higher levels of engagement and participation in the enterprise. In a 10,000 employee firm, if only 900 people are so compelled to contribute, we're missing out on a lot of potential insight. That's what caused me to want to discuss & explore the motivations and barriers to participation.
Oddly, the blog post that caused me to pose this question had 400+ views. If I presume at least 25% of those were unique users, I should have gotten around 9 comments.
I think you're right, in this instance, the whole registration process puts a hurdle in place that makes the WIIFM equation much more difficult. It likely drops us well below the expected 1-9-90 participation. I'm glad to hear (thanks Laura) that it is being worked.
Joe and thread colleagues,
Speaking from the position of someone who lurks and replies I would like to share my observationa. In my opinion most postings on any Social Software Forum fall into the categories of: 1.) Obvious observation 2.) Soapboxing/Prosletyzing 3.) Rhetorical Remark 4.) Insightful remark/influencer. Generally speaking I did leave out trolling (the act of being inflammatory on purpose in order to elicit outrage/feedback in kind).
When I read Blogs and Posts I generally will only respond to #4 as the other categories either do not warrant one OR are not interested in dialogue. I readily admit that I am making a judgement call and its a subjective one. That said - the maxim less is more should be observed in order to maximize the potential for insightful remarks which will in kind generate the need for grassroots response.
Lastly - being a user of eBay from time to time I have had to relist items which have not sold the first time (due to: lack of interest, too high price point, etc). In doing so I typically work on revamping the listing to expand the audience, improve the titling and to ensure maximum exposure. If your posts are not getting the attention you desire then perhaps its an opportunity to "relist" it with better titling, tagging and an honest assesment of the content within.
Btw - since I am replying to your thread it must have hit a chord with me as I too find myself wishing for more response to my other listings in the UC space.
Regards - Tom
While trolling and flame-bait can be amusing to observe, it is rarely productive, so I agree with not including it in your list. Given our goal with ESS is productivity, I hope we don't see much (if any) of that sort of trolling.
I agree that the early stages of a community can be filled with a lot of 1-3. The nature of these platforms attracts intellectual exhibitionists that engage in a lot of what you describe. However, the beauty of a well executed ESS platform is that you can subscribe to those people and topics that draw the most insightful interactions (#4 in your list). One of my big hopes is that ESS becomes a very merit-driven way to "let the cream rise" in the enterprise. Eventually, those posts that fall within your first 3 categories begin to fall off the radar, as the interaction around genuine discussion will naturally stay afloat in the activity streams of a broad and engage set of participants.
Thanks for the insightful remarks. I may end up borrowing the categorizations you've listed.
Ultimately, I think participation in any activity is tied to what I like to refer to as the: Participation Theory (PT). Broken down simply as:
- Likelihood of Participation (LoP) = Reward / Effort
Now, of course that oversimplifies things immensely because the the perception of Reward (R) and Effort (E) will vary significantly from individual to individual. Ultimately, I think if we spent enough time we could come up with a core set of variables that would serve as common inputs to determining the weight of each factor. Perhaps basing it off of Utility Theory or other like decision theories. Of course we would need to factor in global variables which widely impact a given population, such as everyone within an enteprise.
However, in its simplest form when LoP > 1, we participate. When LoP is < 1, we don't participate. If LoP = 1, then participation may be intended, but follow through is not certain.
When it comes to discussion forums, the effort is minimal but so is the reward. I think for most people, the reward is so minimal in fact that it does not provide enough incentive to invest the required effort, even if that effort is small.
The question then becomes, which macro levers do you address? Reward or Effort?
In the case of the discussion forums, Effort is difficult to impact (though not impossible; for instance enabling email to be integrated into discussion forums can streamline and increase overall participation, potentially reducing effort enough where it allows for a LoP > 1 without impacting perceived Reward.)
For discussion forums though, the likely path though is to increase Reward. In some cases, this can be accomplished through governance policies which incentivize people to use certain tools. Potentially by eliminating legacy tools and processes to enforce adoption of new tools and techniques or perhaps through monetary and/or part of performance evaluation metrics.
The bottom line though is the Reward has to outweigh the Effort required. If people are not receiving a reward commiserate with their provided effort, they will view the tools as simply noise and not worthy of their participation. Regardless of how flexible, usable and advanced they may appear.
Not to be overly cheeky about this... but what reward helped you overcome the effort to leave this?
The reason I ask:
1) I like it and it is a nice succinct model for communicating participation and adoption
2) I'd love to figure out what part of the "reward numerator" we can continue to push on to drive adoption. What would you describe as the "reward" on this community?
It's a fair question.
For me personally, my reward is at both the micro and macro levels.
At the micro level, responding provides me a platform to evangalize myself as a thought leader to (assumingly) a new audience as well as strengthen/reinforce my position to those who are already familiar with me.
At the macro level, the more people who are aware of my thoughts, the more potential I have to influence thought and decision processes. The more influence I have, the more freedom and opportunities I am afforded. Ultimately for me, that freedom and opportunity will manifest itself in the form of time, money, leadership, etc.
In this instance, I've taken the Reward variable and factored in those things I view as intrinsically motivating for myself. However, I think in many cases Reward can be tied to things much more tangible if they are clearly aligned to business tasks (e.g., Time, Effort, Quality, etc.). When we are missing the clear alignment, people have difficulty identifying the Reward variables and therefore will likely not see the value in participation. And if people don't see the value, they won't participate.
The reward is the information you get out of the community. It's certainly
why I belong the listservs & communities that I do. The ability to quickly
and easily tap into the knowledge and experience of hundreds if not
thousands of people using the same software, doing the same kind of things
I do is priceless.
On another level, it is also rewarding to answer questions. Knowing I've
saved someone time and headache because I've seen it, solved it & shared it
is rewarding in its own right, Then again I am an educator so I guess I'm
hardwired to seek that kind of reward anyway.
The problem I think is that B follows A, If your questions aren't getting
answered, or answered adequately, you typically aren't hanging around to
answer questions for anyone else. And thus begins the downward spiral of
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I definitely agree that long term viability of a community requires a two-way communication and sharing mechanism to encourage the overall 'network effect' of participation.
However, I would make a distinction in the varying levels of participation. The LoP ratio for joining a community is not the same as the LoP for contributing content to the community. Forrester's Groundswell research, manifested in their Social Technographic profile, is an excellent way of breaking down the various levels of participation.
And the factors that translate in a public / consumer space are not always going to be relevant in the enterprise space. The Reward variable in an enterprise is far more likely to be influenced by factors that do not rely on personal, non-work interests than the Reward variable from a pure consumer perspective. Outside of work, I will likely choose to associate myself only with those things that I have a geniuine interest in. Inside work however, my associations and roles may have very little to do with my personal interests and therefore my perception of Rewards is likely to be quite different.