Charles Arthur, from Guardian Unlimited released an article about the 1% rule, which uncovers some suprising statistics about users in the Web 2.0 world. Basically, only 1% of users will contribute content to an application or website while only 10% of users will comment or offer improvements. The other 89% will simply look at it. This is seen at YouTube, where there are “1,538 downloads per upload and 20m unique users per monthâ€, and at Wikipedia, where an estimated 70% of articles are written by 1.8% of the users.
This figure may be frightening to web businesses that rely solely on user generated content or developer interaction. They’re essentially competing for a fraction of the 1% of traffic out there that’s willing to actively contribute anything to any cause. I believe this adds to the importance of reaching early adopters and technologically savvy users early in an application’s life. We’ve also noticed that active bloggers seem to play around with products and experiments a little more than the average user.
If your application isn’t driven by user created content, maybe allowing users to help out isn’t such a bad idea. Salesforce.com, for example, is experiencing success with their application sharing program, AppExchange. In order to get the builders building, they offer a share of the profits and some name recognition in exchange for applications that Salesforce users can quickly download and integrate into their workflow. It seems to be doing pretty well. Even though there are only 280 applications, tens of thousands of users have downloaded the pre-made apps. If you can somehow tap in to the 1% of your builders effectively to create content 89% of your users want, you might be on to something.