Zoli Erdos summarizes the math this way:
- 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. – Beating Social Media’s 90:9:1 Rule in the Enterprise
By contrast, the corporate environment, as we might expect, shows far different involvement ratios from the anonymous public sphere. Web 2.0 tools take on a different life when used in a corporate environment. Spam, trivia, and vandalism don’t occur in corporate settings: people are identified authentically, and also share a true community of interest. Ben Gardner suggests more of an even split between consumers and producers in Web 2.0 tools behind the firewall:
“When the same question was asked about our corporate wiki 50% of those present had used it but about 50% of those had edited it.” – Can Enterprise2.0 beat the wiki 90:9:1 rule?
When tools produce real results for stakeholders in their daily jobs, issues of improper use become rare. We highlighted from an ITtoolbox story recently a company with its own Digg-style news site, and there were no complaints about spam or trivia. Professor McAfee (originator of the term Enterprise 2.0) similarly sees no instance of vandalism in the corporate world.
The lighter touch can play a part in corporate deployments of Web 2.0 tools however. Paul McDougall in an Information Week tipsheet offering five simple steps to encourage wiki adoption in your own company reminds us that the organization is a social organization, citing the Australian IT company that keeps its wiki updated with rugby news as well as work information. McDougall further advises:
“Corporate Web 2.0 evangelists need to give employees a reason to visit and use the company or department wiki. That means starting threads around everyday work activities, not just big-picture strategic stuff” – Five Ways to Get Your (Corporate) Wiki On
Zoli Erdos agrees that there’s really no cap to the ability to engage employees in a corporate wiki:
“When after the initial ‘grassroots movement’ management fully embraces the wiki not as an optional, after-the-fact knowledge-sharing tool, but the primary facility to conduct work, it becomes the fabric of everyday business, where people create, collaborate, and in the process capture information. When the wiki is the primary work / collaboration platform, participation is no longer optional. Not when the answer to almost any question is ‘it’s on the wiki.’” – Beating Social Media’s 90:9:1 Rule in the Enterprise
For ourselves, we see the wiki coming. Gary Sherman deep in a project summoned up some instant collaboration using a wiki, as he reported in his blog recently [see A free wiki has become another tool in my consulting toolbox], and as we highlighted in our overview story, Wiki In The Workplace. Oh, and full disclosure: this post was written on our internal collaboration wiki.