BBC Online Briefing Spring 2012: The Participation Choice

The Participation ChoiceDespite the regular media headlines that proclaim the whole world now spends every waking minute on some form of social media, if you’ve ever tried to build an online audience or a digital community you’ll be well aware that we don’t all participate in the same way or with the same levels of engagement.

Traditionally these differences have been attributed to the fact that not everyone had the necessary digital skills or the ability to access the tools and technologies. But the world has moved on, the technology is easier to use and even easier to access. So what is driving participation today?

According to BBC Online, Future Media, participation has become an act of personal choice.

Having recently completed a large-scale, long-term investigation into how the UK online population participates in digital media today – from sharing links, to writing blogs and uploading photos – the BBC online team identified six key themes about participation today –

  1. The model which has guided many people’s thinking in this area, the 1/9/90 rule, is outmoded. The number of people participating online is significantly higher than 10%.
  2. Participation is now the rule rather than the exception: 77% of the UK online population is now active in some way.
  3. This has been driven by the rise of ‘easy participation’: activities which may have once required great effort but now are relatively easy, expected and every day. 60% of the UK online population now participates in this way, from sharing photos to starting a discussion.
  4. Despite participation becoming relatively ‘easy’, almost a quarter of people (23%) remain passive – they do not participate at all.
  5. Passivity is not as rooted in digital literacy as traditional wisdom may have suggested. 11% of the people who are passive online today are early adopters. They have the access and the ability but are choosing not to participate.
  6. Digital participation now is best characterised through the lens of choice. These are the decisions we take about whether, when, with whom and around what, we will participate. Because participation is now much more about who we are, than what we have, or our digital skill.

In response to these findings, the BBC team have developed ‘The Participation Choice’ a new model of digital participation,  which suggests that there are four key forms of digital participation – passive, easy reaction, easy initiation and intense. For the UK the breakdown looks like this…

The Participation Choice

To learn more about the model and about the various drivers behind the different participation choices take a look at the full video presentation on the BBC Internet Blog.


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