Citizen Media Watch

mars 22nd, 2007

Smaller closed communities more engaging

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Participants are more active in smaller niche communities than in larger communities with a broader interest. This is shown in the recent resarch results from Communispace, a company that specializes in – surprise, surprise – niche communities.
They write:

In this new era of ”conversational marketing”, the measure for engagement in a community isn’t the number of people logging on. Rather, it’s how actively people participate in the community

The study measured frequency of contributions, number of contributions per member and lurker rate among 26 539 members of 66 private online communities.
Private, facilitated communities of around 300-500 members got the most active members, with a lurking percentage of only 14 percent.

In contrast, on public social networking websites, blogs, and message boards, this ratio is typically reversed, i.e., the vast majority of site visitors do not contribute. In fact, in a typical online forum (e.g., wiki, community, message board or blog), one percent of site visitors contribute and the other 99 percent lurk.

The results also indicate the importance of transparency, showing higher activity in branded sites where it is clearly stated who’s behind the community. Communities for parents are the most active among those studied, and communities based on a geographic location got high levels of participation too.
These results are not surprising – the more ”social glue”, the more engaging a community is. What was a little interesting to see though, was that same-sex communities get more participation than mixed-sex ones.

The white paper will soon be available in its entirety at


mars 2007
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