Joy Mayer is exploring some good questions around engagement and journalism from her fellowship at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. Her posting today looks at engagement from the point of view of nonprofit organizations, news media, and online social media… and I’ll add a look from Front Porch Forum’s perch.
First, a nonprofit-focused ladder of engagement…
Joy also writes…
When we talk about “engagement” in the news, often that includes the desire to motivate users to action of some variety:
• We want to take the casual readers and increase their loyalty and commitment.
• We want the loyal readers to start sharing our content with their friends.
• We want the sharers to take our polls and comment on our content.
• We want those easy actions to lead to more involved contributions of content.
There’s a concept widely held to be true in Internet culture called the 90-9-1 principle. It basically holds that if you have 100 people in an online community, 1 of them will contribute content, 9 of them will edit or modify that content, and 90 percent will be passive lurkers. Think Wikipedia.
Here’s yet another perspective… we see people use Front Porch Forum by the thousands in our Vermont pilot. Our version of the 90:9:1 ration looks more like 25:50:25 in our active areas, that is, we see astounding participation rates. And FPF members often follow this general progression of engagement…
A person will sign up with Front Porch Forum for a direct transactional need, e.g., sell a car, find a lost dog, report a car break-in to neighbors, recommend a new restaurant or plumber, etc.
Over months, he/she will become more connected with nearby neighbors and attentive to local goings-on due to daily light exposure to brief postings from clearly identified nearby neighbors.
After feeling more connected and tuned in, and after watching neighbors step up to help each other and pitch in on community projects, he/she will become more involved locally… mentoring a school kid, leading a graffiti clean-up in the local park, attending a City Council meeting, organizing a block party, etc.
This third step is what FPF means by engagement… people getting hands-on involved in their community… their geographic, real-time, real-space community. One survey of FPF members found two-thirds had attended a local event due to FPF and nine out of ten reported increased local civic engagement!