When it comes to user generated content in social networks, video sites, blogs, wiki’s podcasts etc. I have often made the comment that motivation is probably the most important, and least understood aspect of the whole social media phenomenon. Often sites roll out features to try and keep up with the 2.0 Joneses without looking at their entire eco-system and understanding why people will be motivated to contribute or not. Wether it’s tagging on flickr, or adding bookmarks to delicious, or writing reviews on yelp the users are doing it because they get a benefit, and the companies get a huge benefit as well, in the form of free intellectual capital. On a side note that hidden intellectual capital is probably one of the most undervalued assets in the web2.0 world, which is again why “audience” doesn’t matter as much as the relatively small number of creators, the 1 percenters.
Anyway, McKinsey the renowned strategy consultancy recently posted an article called “How companies can make the most of user-generated content” (free registration) and i’m extremely pleased to see that they have also discovered that motivation is the secret sauce of User Generated Content.