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Web 2.0: Who Really Participates?

We’re most all familiar with the notion of Web 2.0 (if you aren’t, check out this helpful article).

But with all this talk about user participation and interaction, what are the actual figures? How many Web 2.0 users create content and how many simply access it? Hitwise, an online competitive intelligence service has released an intriguing study that addresses these questions.

Hitwise collected data from the Web 2.0 staples we’ve all come to associate the term with, such as Wikipedia, YouTube and Flickr. Not surprisingly, the vast majority (80-90 percent) of Web 2.0 users simply access these sites without contributing to content.

A smaller percentage (10-15 percent) are those who contribute in refactoring content, such as adding comments or tags, making minor wiki edits, or repurposing content through widgets or RSS. The smallest portion (1-5 percent) of Web 2.0 users is the actual creators—participants who create and add new content.

The report noted a correlation between the amounts of technical know-how needed to add content, and the percentage of users who add content.

For instance, YouTube and Flickr require the technical knowledge and ability to create movies or images and upload them to the net, while a service like Wikipedia only requires a couple of clicks and a text entry.

These different technical barriers manifest themselves in the higher percentage of Wikipedia’s entries to visits (4.38 percent) compared to Flickr (.12 percent) and YouTube (.18 percent).

For companies in the Web 2.0 service industry, it is important to recognize this trend and to realize that in the short-term, the large majority of users will not be active participants contributing or creating, but will generally be viewers simply enjoying the content. Once the community grows, the activity and participation from its users will grow with it.

The Socialtext blog recommends businesses that use wikis and other Web 2.0 services to consider adding workflows, how-to tutorials, creative incentives, and using a platform that is easy and intuitive enough to facilitate regular usage and adoption.

The easier a Web 2.0 service is to use, the faster its community will grow and the more uses will contribute and create.

 
 
 
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