In a social community, @jfuccella says content Creators need fans (Contributors and Opportunists) in Gartner’s “four levels of engagement” of creators, contributors, opportunities and lurkers.

Social networking personas

In a recent study, Gartner identified four quadrants that comprise “levels of engagement” within a social network: Creators (0-3%), Contributors (3-10%), Opportunists (10-20%), and Lurkers (80+%).  At first glance, the chart seems like a moment of stating the obvious … in fact, these quadrants are probably true for just about any community of individuals, whether online or offline.

It is often the case that the knee-jerk reaction to a chart like this is to focus on moving everyone toward higher levels of engagement and make as many people “Creators” as possible. But the reality is that not everyone is cut out to be – or wants to be – a Creator.  And, beyond that, if everyone were a Creator, it would be incredibly difficult to wade through the noise to get to the signal  Every community of people needs  people who just listen.  In fact, they need a lot of people who just listen. And conversely, every community needs a handful of very noisy and opinionated people.

The great thing about social networks is that they are (or can be) self-selective. So, not every vocal person will necessarily become a Creator. The masses have to want to hear what the Creator has to say. But who the Creators are doesn’t have to be left entirely up to chance. They can be selected and coached. But they need to be experts in their subject area, and they need to have a personality (yes, even online … perhaps especially online). But most of all, they have to want to be Creators.

The tendency is to spend a lot of time and energy on the Creators, and virtually none on the rest of the ecosystem. But it’s just as important to coach people to be good “fans” (Contributors and Opportunists) for the Creators. Without the “fans” the Creators have no prominence.  And it takes a LOT of fans… a lot of GOOD fans to make Creators out of vocal people.

Social ecosystem diversity | Jeanette Fuccella | March 7, 2012 | BlueIQ at IBM at https://www-304.ibm.com/connections/blogs/blueiq/entry/social_ecosystem_diversity8?lang=en.

Social ecosystem diversity (BlueIQ at IBM)

I found more details on the original research in 2008 by Jeremiah Owyang | Understanding Gartner’s “Generation Virtual” | August 11, 2008 | web-strategist.com at http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/08/11/understanding-gartners-generation-virtual/ .

gartner-generation-virtual-engagement-levels-june-2008

That article points to a press release of “Gartner Says Enterprises Must Create Separate Marketing Strategies for Generation Virtual” | July 14, 2008 | gartner.com at http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=721008 .