Micro-participation in Social Media – making it easy to join in, and build confidence.

If you make things really easy to do, people will participate, in theory……..(more to it than that I know, but stick with me).

Previously I’ve gone on about why I think people don’t engage on a much bigger scale with social media in the workplace. Once you remove the organisational barriers (like a lack of empowerment and trust), what else stops people participating? I have suggested that it’s down to a lack of confidence. Strange really when it seems that half the population is on Facebook, yet a much smaller percentage are involved in work based online communities of practice. Even if people do join up they mostly lurk, watching but not joining in and contributing, why? Is it lack of confidence?

There is a big difference between going to the dance and actually joining in and well, dancing. Believe me; my wife drags me to salsa dances on a regular basis. I think it’s the same with social media. The controlled learning environment is fine, but doing it for real, ‘out in the wild’ is a whole different prospect (like salsa). The world of social media is as ‘out in the wild’ as it gets for many people, particularly if your work reputation is exposed. Confidence is everything, but how do you grow confidence?

Here is an interesting take on confidence and micro-participation. Thanks to Mike (@artvoid) from The Knowledge Hub for introducing me to the concept.

As I understand it, micro-participation is about making participation very easy and on a very small-scale. It’s basically at the level of a ‘like’ on Facebook. These are actions that require virtually no effort, but register your opinion and leave behind a mark.  It’s not just a Facebook thing; most people will be familiar with the like / promote / rate micro-participation activities from Amazon to Reddit to You Tube.

The idea behind micro-participation is that once people are comfortable with this level of participation, they will move onto bigger things, commenting on content produced by others, joining discussions and eventually developing their own material and publishing it.  A great way of building up confidence, step by step.

There’s not that much written about micro participation on the web, not even a Wikipedia entry. Slightly worrying, this may be so obvious that I’ve got it all wrong; it doesn’t feel like that though.

One example is, microparticipation.com which focus upon promoting citizen involvement in government and democracy. They talk about the ideas of “participation at the convenience of participants” and draw together resources, examples, ideas and discussions about micro-participation. One of the examples on their site is FixMyStreet.com. This is a UK-based site which enables citizens to report issues to their local council, such as fly tipped waste, graffiti or potholes. I have used it, successfully, and would say that it is a great way of engaging and building confidence. A step above the like / promote / rate level and good confidence builder. microparticipation.com are looking for other examples, maybe 38 Degrees is an example they would be interested in?

So what’s the PONT?

  1. Not everyone is confident using social media, especially in connection with work.
  2. Small and easy to do (low risk) things can help to build confidence.
  3. Micro-participation is a useful way of helping people to build confidence to use social media in the work environment.

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here: https://whatsthepont.com/churchill-fellowship/

3 Responses

  1. Good piece, though I think I was surprised to see this has a name like “micro-participation”. In my experience, it’s always been common for those of us who work encouraging timid users to suggest they don’t dive straight in, but restrict the scope of their participation for a while.

    Personally, I think it’s not only good confidence-building, but also good practice, say, just to be a reader and occasional retweeter on something like Twitter for an initial period of six weeks or so. This exposes the new user to a representative volume of material, during which time they start building lists of people to follow. They see language conventions, learn tips on brevity, and get a feel for overall etiquette. Crucially too, this period helps begin to embed accessing social media at whatever chosen frequency as a habit.

    Simplest next stage is tweeting or posting the occasional thank you message for links etc that they’ve enjoyed or found useful. I’m a believer in using a utility like “Pocket” from the outset, too. New users of social media need to feel free to engage at a frequency suitable to themselves, and not feel obliged to try to read everything in one hit. Such utilities also feed the learning process by helping the new user to milk social media for useful links, identify regular posters of useful links, and so on.

    After a period of such exposure, confidence to elaborate on “thank you” messages grows, users see that they wont get shot down for expressing their personal views (well, not very often!) and a culture of “hey, I can do that too” begins to take root.

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