Monday, 28 April 2008

Reframing Conference Social Tool Participation

Through my recent post: Social Conference Tools - Expect Poor Results I've received a bit of feedback on being such a pessimist (Dave Ferguson) and a great comment from Sue Waters that made me realize I needed to reframe the problem. I've been disappointed by the low participation rates and generally haven't seen that much value from these tools. But, most of the tools provided are aimed at trying to get everyone in the conference to use the tools.

Instead, if we believe the 90-9-1 Rule, then the real questions should be:
  • How can we create systems that when they are adopted by 1% of the population, we can provide value for the rest of the conference attendees and appropriately reward the 1%ers?
  • What can we provide for the 9%ers so they can make lightweight contributions that add value?
  • How can we effectively integrate the 90%ers so they get value from the 9%ers and the 1%ers?
I'm not sure I have answers here, but at least it gets me to think about the problem differently, and I'm more hopeful to find answers to these questions than trying to get greater participation among the entire conference audience.

One warning about this ... I'm not sure I can count every conference attendee as even a 90%er. Are they even going to enroll in the collaborative system? So, for a conference with 1,000 attendees, how many participants can you realistically expect. There will be anomalies (e.g., a Web 2.0 conference).

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