Charlene Li at Forrester just came out with a report on Social Technographics that surveyed user engagement. The framework is very similar to my Power Law of Participation, but it is an entirely different thing to have some data behind it.
I haven't seen the report itself, but Steve Rubel says "this is the first report I have seen that really delves into what drives and motivates people to engage with the web." I'll get a copy of it and see.
But I still contend that a more ideal community is scale free in structure. What I wonder is if you could benchmark these levels of engagement against a power law -- not just to test Forrester's findings, but to help a given company realize -- "we are under-weighted in critics!"
UPDATE: I got a copy of the report, which is a pragmatic approach that starts by valuing different kinds of participation. A given site could survey its users to understand existing psychodemographic profiles, then review participation points. It may discover latent potential in the Creator category and create a participation point for them. How the profiles vary by age is interesting:
- Teenagers create more than any other generation. Youth between 12 and 17 years old are avid
users of Social Computing technologies, with more than one-third engaging as Creators. But
this is a fairly self-centered age group — while very likely to create their own content, they are
less likely than Gen Yers to be Critics and Collectors...
- Joiners dominate Gen Yers. While this age group has higher percentages in each category than
every other age group (except for youth Creators), it’s their sky-high participation in social
networks that stands out. In fact, there are slightly more Joiners than Spectators — meaning
that Gen Yers are less likely to passively read, watch, or listen to social media, even when it’s
created by their peers...
- Gen X Spectators form the foundation for future participation. While signiﬁcantly fewer
members of Gen X are at the top of the participation ladder, that four out of 10 are already
using social media as Spectators means that they are well positioned to take the next step...
Also note that Creators self-identify themselves as leaders (38% say "I am a natural leader") than any other group, and those who participate in social software are greater influencers (Active categories range from 52-56% saying "I often tell my friends about products that interest me, compared to 33% for Inactives).
UPDATE: Phil Wolff's remix is seriously funny: