As a result of being somewhat of a “online community builder” myself, I have been following Richard Millington for quite awhile. I’m pretty dead set on the fact that if a website/brand doesn’t understand community building and devote the resources it takes to do it right, they WILL fail as a business over time. The web is too cluttered with crap these days, and there’s no real way to build a real brand and differentiate yourself other than building community. Hence, it’s an important topic to understand thoroughly. According to Richard, there are three primary motivators for participating in an online community:

1) Power and influence (self-efficacy). We want to feel like we’ve made an impact in the world around us. This is the strongest motivator. We participate in a community because we feel we matter in that community. We feel we make a difference.

2) Fame and status seeking (appreciation). We participate to increase our status within the community. We share our best advice, try to make friends, participating in discussions all to increase our own status (and possibly boost our own self-concept). This drives many contributions in knowledge-sharing communities.

3) Affiliation (belonging).We want to make friends. This is a weaker motivation than most the others. We want to connect with people and learn more about them. We want to conform and ‘fit in’ to a group of likeminded people. We participate to increase that feeling of belonging.

When I think through why I participate in the online communities I do, these motivators ring true.

Why do you participate in the communities that you involve yourself in?