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Authors: Paul Goedhart Sandra Potgiesser Tjebbe Zijlstra Jana Sager Robert Klooster Study course: Course code:
Kerry Moone Hendrik Veenstra Shardee de Roos Gerben Piter IJedema Information Services (specialisation) IFS
19 January 2011
Project Wikipilot “Community building”
Authors: Paul Goedhart Sandra Potgiesser Tjebbe Zijlstra Jana Sager Robert Klooster
Kerry Moone Hendrik Veenstra Shardee de Roos Gerben Piter IJedema
Education: Place, date:
Media & Information management Groningen, 19 January 2011
Desk research There are three different categorize of communities; Social-, Professional- and Commercial communities. Each can be divided into two types. A social community consists of relationship building and communities that focus on entertainment. A professional community is business established and can be divided into expert networking and learning types. The last category of communities is the commercial community, which can be divided into Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Customer (B2C) types . The fundamental parts of a community can be described as follow: content, community manager and budget. High quality content is a reason for members to come back to a community. Regular participation on the community is important, especially in the start-up stage. Communities have to be kept active and maintained, this can be done by the community manager. Characteristics of a community manager are; intermediate, facilitator, administrator and relationship manager. Being the representative of a community requires certain qualities such as patience, dedication, determination, passion, maturity, proactively or curiosity. The community manager is responsible for interaction between members and the company. Community manager responses are necessary to stimulate community growth and user participation. Besides these tasks, four activities can be distinguished; facilitation, content, evangelism and innovation. Several costs need to be taken into consideration when building a community and investments need to be made for managing the community. Increase of revenue by the community is often immeasurable. Return Of Investments (ROI) of an online community are not solemnly determined by financial benefits. To measure other benefits (new customers/customer loyalty) goals need to be set and critiques need to be used. To make an online community a success, several parts of the community need to be kept healthy. An online community can be divided into members, content, traffic, responsiveness, topic interaction and liveliness. These topics can lead to achieving community and company goals. A community health index can give an overview of the subjects that need special attention. Crowdsourcing can help a company solve problems by using the public (crowd). Crowdsourcing is a quick and cheap way of solving problems which will give a company insight in customer desires. A successful crowdsourcing project relies on five conditions; problem statement, network of people, rewarding participants, reactions and usage of obtained information. Two types of motivation can be distinguished namely intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The difference between the two is the reason why people are motivated to participate. Intrinsic motivation describes the satisfaction someone gets from executing an activity. Extrinsic motivation describes what someone needs (money or grades) to get satisfaction from executing an activity. Content and usability of a community are important to attract and retain members and to motivate them to contribute on the community. Members have to be the centre of the community. Besides content placed by a company or other companies, members are the creators of content. The community life cycle describes the development of a system in stages. Communities arise in different stages; inception, creation, growth, maturity and death. Furthermore, there are several reasons why a community can fail: members become inactive, not enough new members , no updated profiles, no budget, incapable community managers, too much trust in technology, no
strategic planning and managing, incapable community starters and unclear added value. Potential end-users Mariners use the Internet for two reasons; leisure and professional use. The most commonly used online software services are; email, RSS, social media, news services, online learning tools, weather services and websites regarding professional information. The survey described what content mariners would like to see and share on a platform; general information about the maritime industry, maritime related information, information about sailing and information about other ships. Social media platforms are visited frequently by the mariners. By far the most used social media networks are Facebook and Skype. Most mariners use the Internet to keep in contact with their family and friends at home. Information shared on the community platform needs strict monitoring and content on the community platform should be exclusive . Anyone associated with professional shipping should be able to join the community. To make the online community platform a success it is important to create a strong network. Experts Four factors of an online community are information, members, activities and market. These define the type of community and the environment it operates in. An online platform can be created by using the so called three layered structure, which consists of federation, communities and workgroups. The essence of the three layered structure is knowledge exchange. The decision of an open or closed community depends on the goals of the community. An open community gives people a chance to participate and gain information on activities. A closed community gives the community manager a better opportunity to monitor the members on the platform. When building a community five factors should be considered; management, users, growth, content and platform. For the benefit of crowdsourcing three steps need to be considered; listing, connecting and interacting. Exclusivity of an online community is important to create added value for community members. This can be done by linking communities or existing accounts. When using social media it is important to know where customers are on the Internet and how they can be reached. Fan page gives the customer the opportunity to learn more about the company and create a two way communication possibility between customers and the company.
The study, which has been conducted and completed within a outstanding time of five months, is an excellent example of cooperative endeavour amongst a number of institutions and organisations in the northern part of the Netherlands . This study was established during the specialization Information Services which is part of the Faculty of Communication & Media at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen. The study is realized in an international context and involves professional third parties. The end results of the conducted research will be presented in this advisory report. Advice will be given in this advisory report to the company X about community building concerning the “Wikipilot” project. The Wikipilot project is a collaboration of many different parties to realise an online platform for mariners to exchange nautical data. Special thanks to the following parties for helping with the realisation of this advisory report: • The director of the company X • Frank Willems; project initiator • Dirk Jan Hummel; innovation advisor • Riet Grevelink; project coordinator • Jan Baljé; information technology coordinator • Josef Sennekool; information services coordinator • Loes Damhof; English teacher • Sander Polhuijs; project group coordinator • IT-students of Hanze University; application developers A special thanks to our five amazing field experts for their incredible insights: • Greald Henstra; crowdsourcing expert • Martine Blok; entrepreneur and social media expert • Jan van Bon; community development expert • Fleur Graper; communication and social media expert • Richard Millington; community building expert Also special thanks to the customers of company X,, Facebook group “Seafarers” and the seafarers school at Delfzijl: • Abel Tasman Seafarers school; future end users • Facebook group “Seafarers”; current end users
Table of contents
INTRODUCTION..............................................................................................1 TERMINOLOGY ..............................................................................................4 1.0. DESK RESEARCH......................................................................................6 1.1. COMMUNITY TYPES............................................................................................................8 1.1.1. Social orientation..............................................................................................8 1.1.2. Professional orientation.....................................................................................8 1.1.3. Commercial orientation.....................................................................................9 1.2. FUNDAMENTAL PARTS OF A COMMUNITY.....................................................................................9 1.2.1. Content.............................................................................................................9 1.2.3. Budget............................................................................................................13 1.3. HEALTH OF AN ONLINE COMMUNITY.......................................................................................14 1.3.1. Members.........................................................................................................15 1.3.2. Content...........................................................................................................15 1.3.3. Traffic..............................................................................................................15 1.3.4. Responsiveness...............................................................................................16 1.3.5. Interaction.......................................................................................................16 1.3.6. Liveliness........................................................................................................17 1.3.7. Community health index.................................................................................18 1.4. VALUABLE FUNCTIONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS FOR PROFESSIONAL COMMUNITIES...............................19 1.5. HOW CAN CROWDSOURCING BE USED FOR A SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITY.................................................20 1.5.2. Five conditions................................................................................................20 1.6. MOTIVATION, PARTICIPATION AND STIMULATION..........................................................................21 1.6.5. Summary........................................................................................................23 1.8. SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL COMMUNITY..................................................................................26 1.8.1. Success...........................................................................................................26 1.8.2. Online Communities Life Cycle........................................................................27 1.8.3. Fail..................................................................................................................28 2.1. ONLINE MARINER COMMUNITIES............................................................................................32 2.1.1. Online platforms communities........................................................................32
18.104.22.168. ActiveCaptain.........................................................................................................32 22.214.171.124. VisitMyHarbour.......................................................................................................34
126.96.36.199. TeamSurv...............................................................................................................35 188.8.131.52. Oceanuslive............................................................................................................36 184.108.40.206. Overview................................................................................................................37 220.127.116.11. 18.104.22.168. 22.214.171.124. 126.96.36.199. Yachtpilot...............................................................................................................39 Captainwiki.............................................................................................................40 Skipperguide..........................................................................................................41 Overview................................................................................................................42
2.1.2. Online Wiki communities.................................................................................39
2.1.3. Social platform communities...........................................................................43
188.8.131.52. Facebook communities...........................................................................................43 184.108.40.206. LinkedIn communities.............................................................................................44
2.2 COLIN JENKINS ‘SEAFARERS’ ..............................................................................................45 2.3 ONLINE SURVEY; FACEBOOK GROUP “SEAFARERS”......................................................................47 2.4 STUDENTS (ABEL TASMAN)................................................................................................49 3.0. EXPERTS...............................................................................................52 3.2. OPEN 4.1. END
4. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS.....................................................62
Nautical information is of great value for mariners at sea. Information about changes that take place at sea should therefore be exchanged as soon as possible, so that each person at sea can be well-informed about the current situation. Changes at sea, known as nautical data, currently get registered and exchanged by a system called Navtex or the old fashioned way, sent by mail. The Navtex system has one disadvantage, it's a static system. This system works by using radio waves and is only usable within a certain region. Sending nautical changes by mail also has a disadvantage, it takes weeks before any changes are noticeable for the end users of the sea charts. The Internet could be a good mean for exchanging nautical data at sea due to its accessibility and usability. An important aspect of exchanging important information through the Internet is having a well-structured online community supporting this information exchange. Changes would immediately be made visible for all members within the community of the shipping industry. The changes will be made available by members of and for members of the community. The Wikipilot project was founded for the benefit of starting a professional online community focused on the shipping industry for exchanging up-to-date nautical data.. The Wikipilot idea originated from the fact that distribution of up-to-date information is very time consuming at this moment. It should be possible to keep each other well-informed with the latest changes by sharing this information within an online community. By using this community everyone will be kept informed with important aspects related to nautical safety. Furthermore, it gives vessels (crewmembers) the opportunity to stay in contact with each other. Company X started a collaboration with the Hanze University of Applied Sciences for the first phase of the Wikipilot project. The project initiators Franks Willems and Riet Grevelink used their network to determine which education's would be essential to the Wikipilot project. As a result the specializations Agile Software Development and Information Services were chosen to be involved in the Wikipilot project. The Information Technology students from the specialization Agile Software Development were asked to develop several web applications. Besides the IT students, several students from the specialization “Information Services” are involved in doing a study related to setting up a professional online community and managing it. The cooperation between the different parties and disciplines was guided by Sander Polhuijs, who is a student from the study course Human Technology. Our study is divided into two categories, desk research and field research. An investigation will be conducted about community building and the end users of the Wikipilot project (i.e. people within the shipping industry). These two topics were the guidelines for the research questions. The conducted study which was completed by the project group "Clearys" will be processed as a advisory report towards company X. The advice consists of how to build and manage an online community. The project group ”Clearys” of the specialization Information Services has taken responsibility concerning the first phase of the desk- and field research of the Wikipilot project. A problem statement has been formed for the Wikipilot project in combination with several research questions for guiding the study into
The problem statement is as follows: How can an environment be created that an facilitate a professional community of mariners which can be used for crowdsourcing with ambition of exchanging nautical data among community members The goal of this study is to give advice to company X on the 19th of January 2011 concerning the Wikipilot project on how to build and manage an online community . This advice will be based on the conducted expert interviews, desk research and field research. The following model shows the methodology that will be used as a basis for the conducted study.
Figure 1. Research methodology model
The model above is translated as follows: (A) A study will be conducted with regards to community building, crowdsourcing and mariners (end users). This will help us distinguish what type of community will be suitable for company X, how company X can build and manage that community, who the end-users are and how they can be motivated to actively participate on the community. (B) To discover this information, users will be interviewed where a distinction will be made between current users and future users (marine school). Furthermore, several experts will be interviewed who have different specialties to get a broad view of basic and specific community building, crowdsourcing and user information (see chapter 5.2). Also, several books and websites (see chapter 5.1) will be analysed to get a better understanding of crowdsourcing and community building. (C) The study results will be analysed which will result in an advisory report (D). This advisory report consists of the following components: • Terminology • Desk research • End user conclusion • Expert interview conclusions • End conclusion • Recommendations
Community health index: Helps to investigate where special attention in an online community is needed. Community manager: This is a relatively new function that is still undergoing heavy developments. There is no standard definition of what a community manager exactly is yet. Community platform: The online community platform is a tool that allows people to share knowledge and interpretations. The interaction between community members is moderated with guidelines and protocols, but there is no official compact with members. Content: ‘Everything that is included in a collection and that is held or included in something’ For media and publishing this means: ‘content is information and experiences that may provide value for an end-user/audience in specific contexts’. (Content, 2010). Creators: An initial workgroup of people within a community that place content on a platform in order for the community to start functioning. Crowdsourcing: Creating solutions for problems or creating ideas with a large group of people. The best outcome is created by a diverse group of people with different expertise’s. Extrinsic motivation: This is motivation determined outside a person. Examples of extrinsic motivation can be rewards, money, grades and threat of punishment. Extrinsic motivation can be internalized if the task fits with someone’s morals and beliefs and therefore helps to accomplish their basic psychological needs. Inactive (lurker): Most common Internet user. Uses basic social media tools such as photo search. Intrinsic motivation: Describes that a task is performed because people get satisfaction from the activity. It indicates that people undertake a task for their need or satisfaction or for their own sake. Borst states that examples of intrinsic motivations are fun or learning. Online Communities Life Cycle: Describes the development and exploitation of a system. In general the model stated that every system has to follow the same process without missing a stage. Online community: A community consists of people that share the same interests and have the need to talk about the same discussion topics. Members of a community have a social connection with each other. An online community is a group of people that share those interests and discussions on the Internet within an online community platform. Return of investments: A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of investment to compare the efficiency of a number of investments.
The calculate ROI the benefit (return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment; the results is expressed as a percentage or ratio. Professional community: A professionally oriented community is business established. Unique selling point: The feature that makes a product or brand stand out from others.
1.0. Desk research
The following chapter describes the results of the desk research. Two definitions are given to get a better understanding of the subjects that are described in this chapter. Definition of an online community A community consists of people that share the same interests and feel the need to talk about the same discussion topics. Members of a community have a (social) connection with each other. An online community is a group of people that share interests and discussions on the Internet within an online community platform. An online community platform is a tool that allows people to share knowledge and interpretations. The interaction between community members is moderated with guidelines and protocols, but there is no official agreement with members. An online community can be used for discussions, building relationships, maintaining business goals and a stronger relationship between companies and their customers. (Atkinson, n.d.)(Borst, 2010)(O’Mahony & Ferraro, 2007)(Porter, 2006) Definition of crowdsourcing Crowdsourcing is creating solutions for problems or creating ideas with a large group of people. The best outcome is created by a diverse group of people with different expertise’s. The crowd thinks about a certain subject and interact with each other to reach the best answer or solution. Companies can use crowdsourcing for advise, innovation and improvement of products. (Wat is, n.d.) (Borst, 2010)(Kuipers, 2009)(Drewes, 2009)(Condron, 2010) The first paragraph “1.1 Community types” describes the different types of communities using a model created by Ursula Markus in 2002. This model was chosen because it has a clear and concrete structure. Furthermore, there are several parts that are fundamental for having a successful community. The different elements are described in paragraph “1.2 Fundamental parts of a community”. The parts are content, community manager and budget. To keep a community healthy the following factors need to be considered: • Members • Content • Traffic • Responsiveness • Topic interaction • Liveliness These factors are explain in the paragraph “1.3 Health of an online community”. Different types of social media functions can be used in a professional community. The types useful for a community are mentioned in the section “1.4 Valuable functions of social media platforms for professional communities”. Not only social media are important to create a successful community, but also crowdsourcing. How crowdsourcing can be used in a successful community is explained in paragraph 1.5.
It is important to keep users motivated and stimulated to participate on a community. This is stated in the section “1.6 Motivation, participation and stimulation”. Rewarding is a way to motivate and stimulate users to participate on a community. This approach is explained in paragraph “1.7 Rewarding”. Several factors determine how a community can be started successfully. These are described by using the community life cycle model. However, there are some factors that can cause a community to fail. These all are described in paragraph “1.8 Successful professional community”. In numerous previous paragraphs factors of a successful community are described. In addition to the previously mentioned factors paragraph “1.9 Building an online community” will describe how a community can be built.
1.1. Community types
Different types of communities can be distinguished. This model was chosen because it has a clear and concrete structure. Ursula Markus’s model (2002) divides virtual communities in three orientations namely, social, professional and commercial. Secondly, every orientation is divided into two types.
Figure 2. Ursula Markus model
Source: http://www.aitdspace.gr/xmlui/bitstream/handle/123456789/176/AhmadAlMadadhaThesisFinal.pdf? sequence=1
1.1.1. Social orientation
The two types of the social orientation are: ‘theme communities’ that focus on relationship building and ‘social communities’ that focus on entertainment. Relationship building and Entertainment The main goal of a relationship community is building relationships with other community members. Usually a relationship community is built around a certain theme, for example sports, illness, politics or environment. Because every member is connected to another, members feel related to a group this enhances member involvement. Examples are Studenten.net and Ajax network (Football). The goal of an entertainment community is socializing, which is done by sharing for example profiles, pictures and videos. Entertainment communities are most popular and have the highest amount of members. The communities mainly focus on communicating with friends, acquaintances and strangers about very diverse topics. Examples are Facebook and Hyves. (Markus, 2002) (Soorten communities, 2010)(Pieters, Van Brienen & Brinkman, 2008)(AlMadadha, 2008)
1.1.2. Professional orientation
A professionally oriented community is business established. The two types that can be distinguished are, expert network and learning community. Expert network and Learning The aim of an “Expert Network” is primarily on a professional target group that can be divided into two categories; 1. Experts that share information and knowledge who can work on a project together. 2. As a social platform where member profiles serve as an online CV. Examples are LinkedIn and Xing.
Another type of “Expert Network” is an internal community that focuses on the internal organization. The community is created to enhance information sharing by employees of a company. The goal of the community is improving communication between employees and optimizing accessibility of company information. Examples are KLM: Costumer relation management and Café Europe. A learning community focuses on learning from the community. The target groups of an learning community are students and people who want to share and expand their knowledge. An online learning environment can be created where people can listen to online lectures and share as well as gain information, assignments, projects and research related to a certain study. An “Education Community” can be described as a combination of an expert- and internal community. Examples are INHOLLAND Blackboard (online learning environment) and Fontys highschool portal. (Markus, 2002) (Soorten communities, 2010) (Pieters, Van Brienen & Brinkman, 2008)(AlMadadha, 2008)
1.1.3. Commercial orientation
The two types that the commercial orientation has, are business community and consumer community. Business-to-Business (B2B) Business to business communities can be divided into two parts. The first focuses on people and businesses sharing information and knowledge on a business level. The second is created to stimulate cooperation between companies for the purpose of gaining revenue or locating business partners. Examples are KLM Clubs (China, Africa) and Covisint Automotive (Collaboration portal). Business-to-Consumer (B2C) Business-to-consumer communities are created and managed by businesses, the community supports a product or brand. The purpose of a Business-to-Consumer community is increasing sales and performing cost saving market analysis’. An example is LEGO Club. (Markus, 2002)(Soorten communities, 2010)(Pieters, Van Brienen & Brinkman, 2008)(AlMadadha, 2008)
1.2. Fundamental parts of a community
The following paragraph describes what content is fundamental for having a successful community. The chapter explains how content can be used as a tool, what content is in the start-up stage of the community and gives ideas for content on a community. Several sources have been used to complete this chapter which are listed below each paragraph.
Content can be described as: ‘everything that is included in a collection and that is held or included in something’. For media and publishing this means: ‘content is information and experiences that may provide value for an end-user/audience in specific contexts’. In this chapter content is used to sum up information in the form of posts, uploads, articles, responses or movies. High quality content can be described as content that is useful for a variety of community members. It should generate responses and new high quality content. (Content, 2010) Content as a tool
Content on a community can be seen as a tool, like ratings, reviews and feedback. When content is posted on a community, people will go back to read the content or read related content. This is more likely to happen on a community, than on the open web. When people search by using a search engine, websites chosen to gain information are chosen at random and will therefore differ for each search. In other words, when searching with a search engine, an overload of results is given which leads to someone not always choosing the same link for each search. When content is posted on a community platform, a solid place is created to store the content. Therefore people have the opportunity to choose from selected content. (deGeyter, 2007) Content in the beginning of a community When starting a community it is important to have high quality content. This is needed to convince potential members to join the community. In the start-up stage there will only be a small group active on the community platform. It is important that this group posts content on the community platform and remains doing so on a daily basis, especially in the start-up stage of the community. (Reed, 2007) Another essential matter is that the content posted on the community platform should demonstrate the communication objectives of the company. Therefore the communication of a company on a community platform should have the same purpose as the communication via others channels. Furthermore the communication should have the same intention as the company objectives in general. (Rhinesmith, 2010) Ideas for content on a community When owning a community it is important to invite experts to write guestblogposts. This helps create high quality content on the community. Another way is letting members of the community give their opinion. This could be done by using a rotation scheme. (Millington, 2010a) Member created content is very important but should not be the only content. When a company has a community it is important for a company to post original content like whitepapers or case studies. (Need content, 2009)
1.2.2. Community manager
The role of a community manager can be described as: ‘A growing and developing profession. People in this position are working to build, grow and manage communities around a brand or cause’. (Online Community Manager, 2010) Community manager characteristics Nowadays nearly every company has an online community. These online communities differ per company and have to be kept active by maintaining them. Ideal for this task is a community manager. This is a relatively new function that still undergoes development stages. There is no standard definition of what a community manager exactly is but there are characteristics all community managers have in common. (Reed, 2009) The common characteristics are described below: • A community manager is the intermediate and facilitator between the business (brand) and an online community. Important aspects are
exchanging information, stimulating interaction and executing business objectives. A community manager is the administrator of the online community with regards to managing the members, ensuring that the rules are followed, sending newsletters and managing and monitoring discussions. The community manager stimulates and develops new relationships amongst members and ensures that the community members feel involved within the community. This is also known as the function relationship manager. The community manager has to support and improve the cooperation between involved parties, enforcing business strategies, developing businesses and community objectives.
In short a community manager is responsible for all activities within the community and is seen as the leader of the online community. (Morgan, 2009) (Wagenaar, 2010)(Grimes-Viort, 2010)(Owyang, 2006)(Derksen, 2007)(Reed, 2009)(Fisher, 2010) Important qualities of a community manager The person occupying the function of community manager has to have certain qualities. This is important because he or she is the representative of the online community. Important qualities being a community manager are as follows: • Patience; A community cannot be an overnight success because relationships aren’t built overnight. • Dedication; A community manager has to truly believe in the community because sometimes member participation can be overwhelming and at other times it can be disappointing. • Determination; There is a high risk that the community targeted is already being targeted by existing communities. This should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat. • Passion; Money is a good initial motivator but community managers who are passionate about their job are far more likely to succeed than money driven community managers. • Maturity; Always taking moral high ground is an essential quality of a community manager. Community managers have to be mature and cool headed because they are often caught in the middle of member disputes. • Proactively; The community manager has to be aware of the wants and needs of the community, and react accordingly. It is important to react fast otherwise competitors might steal community members. • Curiosity; A good community will repeatedly ask itself, community members and the company they work for questions in order to set new objectives. The answers to these questions are essential because they can help the community improve on specific areas.
• Modesty; •
The emphasis has to be on the community members and not on the community manager. Empathy; The community manager needs to be a part of the community and the community members need to be able to relate themselves to the community manager. Hard working; A community manager has to have high availability. It is not a nine to five job. (Reed, 2009)
The importance of a community manager Several factors have to be considered when starting an online community. Having a community manager that has the previously mentioned qualities is one of these factors. The Internet is always available. Therefore it is necessary to have someone who constantly monitors the community member discussions, as well as postings about the company by external parties. The community manager has to respond appropriately to all discussions. The community members and the external parties portray the community manager as the representative and the contact person of the online community. Another important factor is content. The community manager has to post high quality content on a daily basis for the community members to read. This keeps the community members motivated to come back. (Kloos, 2008)(Haiko, 2010) (Reed, 2010) Furthermore, growth is an essential factor. An online community that doesn't grow will slowly die. It shows that passive online communities that do not have a community manager have less member growth and participation than online communities that do have a community manager. (Humbarger, 2009)(Happe, 2010)(Askanase, 2010)(Silverton, 2010) Community manager tasks There are four community manager activities that can be distinguished from each other. These are as follows: • Facilitation; A community manager is like a super user that stays in contact with the community members, keeps track of active discussions and involves additional community members in these discussions. • Content; A community manager is responsible for updating the community platform with fresh and regular content. The community platform does not generate this content itself, it is done by the community members and managers. For example, a company can place content related to their products and services on the community platform or a community member posts an interesting video about a product of the company. Basically, the main objective of content on an online community platform is to inform community members, expand their participation and to start new conversations. • Evangelism; Another main activity that a community manager has to fulfil, is tell other persons (potential community members) on the Internet about the company and the activities that happen on the online community platform.
Not only customers should be enticed by the community manager to participate in the online community but also partners and employees. Innovation; Innovation is an additional ingredient to the community managers ‘task. The virtual world is always on the move, just like society is changing on a daily basis. This means new technologies are continuously being developed and a different way of thinking by people are aspects that constantly have to be adopted by the community member and integrated in the community platform in order to keep it active and interesting. (Owyang, 2007)(Foster, 2009) (Online community, 2010)(Foster, 2007) (Grimes-Viort, 2010)
The following chapter will describe costs, budget and Return Of Investments (ROI). A distinction will be made between hard and soft costs. Furthermore, an overview will be given of possible costs. When looking at Return Of Investments two types of benefits are discussed namely monetary benefits and ‘other’ benefits. Finally, a list of critiques regarding before named benefits will be given. Costs Budget is essential when building an online community. Several costs are involved when building and managing an online community. Two types of costs can be distinguished, hard and soft costs. Hard costs consists of costs spent on hardware, software and other technical parts needed to start an online community. When companies do not have the opportunity to build the community, an agency has to be hired to do so. Soft costs consists of time investments made for the community. A substantial amount of the budget is needed for community management after designing the community platform. This is needed to manage the community and achieve community success. Time investments are made when people, besides the community manager, have something to do with the community. An example of this is people working for the marketing department of a company who are involved in the marketing aspects of a community. (White, n.d.)(Cartigny, 2008) (Millington, 2010b) Cost overview As described above the following costs have to be considered when building a community: • Design of the online community; • Integration with other disciplines of the company; • Training people in how to manage the online community; • Project manager for the implementation of a community/social media; • Community management; • IT support (costs for the IT infrastructure and support); • Marketing and promotion of the online community website; • Planning goals and policies for the community; • Software. (Petouhoff, 2009) Budget Often companies do not provide the community with an extensive budget, this because it is unclear how investments will increase revenue which is often
immeasurable. Return Of Investments can be expressed in money and other benefits for the company. Benefits for the company can be: recruiting new customers through the community platform, gaining involvement in the community and the company. Involvement describes the trust people have in a company and the loyalty customers have to a brand. Members and customers involved in a company talk about their experience with others. This cannot be measured in money but will give valuable benefits for the future. Benefits can be measured by comparing a company’s current income with the past income (past income, in the absence of a community). (White, n.d.) (Johnston, 2007)(Millington, 2010b) Return Of Investments Measuring the Return Of Investments of an online community is different of the ROI for a company. For an online community more extensive measurements are needed besides financial benefits. Goals need to be set for an online community before it can be clear what should be measured. Goals help define what makes an online community successful. Several critiques can judge if the community provides increased value for a company. The critiques differ per company. When measuring the ROI qualitative and quantitative metrics can be used by a company. An overall overview of gained revenues from the online community can be created by using these metrics. (Johnston, 2007)(Rhodes, 2008)(Online community, 2008)(Johnston, 2007) Critiques that could be important for measurement: • Traffic and statistics; • Member engagement; • Unique visitors; • Member registrations; • Member satisfaction and loyalty; • Feedback and idea creation; • User generated content; • Transformation from inactive to active users; • Company and brand mentions on the Internet; • Number of comments on posts; • Community value for a company. (Johnston, 2008)(Online community, 2008)
1.3. Health of an online community
To be healthy, several parts of the body have to be taken care of. Looking at the anatomy of a body there are all kinds of organs that need special attention to keep the whole body healthy. An online community can be seen as the anatomy of a human being. Several parts need to be taken care of to keep the community healthy. When one part of the community is neglected the community can get unhealthy. To make the online community a success the well-being of the community has to be considered constantly, similar to people who have to take care of their own well-being so they won’t get sick. (Lithium Technologies, 2009) (Community Health Index, n.d.)(Maki, 2007a) An online community can be divided in the following parts: • Members;
• • • • •
Content; Traffic; Responsiveness; Topic interaction; Liveliness.
Members are the most important part of an online community. To measure the health of your community, you have to look at the growth of the community and it’s registrations. Growth is essential for a healthy online community. People join a community because they are interested in the subjects and because they benefit from it . A healthy community is constantly growing, this growth can be increased by inviting people who would like the articles on the community and from whom participation in a conversation is likely. (Membership growth, n.d) (Maki, 2007a)(DeLong, 2009)(Lithium Technologies, 2009)
Content is important for both the members and the company. Members of the online community want to read content that interests them and is up to date. Members are on the community platform because they benefit from the content. Besides the content from the company itself there will be user generated content. This content is interesting for other members, but even more important to the company. User generated content gives a company the opportunity to find out what people are talking about, what their opinion is of the company and its products and services. If companies are aware of this they can use it to improve where needed. The online community’s health can be measured by the number of posts and page views. The posts can give an overview on the involvement of the members. (Lithium Technologies, 2009) (Content, 2002)(W., 2010)
Traffic rates of a community can show how popular an online community platform is. For companies it can be important to know what people are looking for on the Internet because then specific tags can be added to generate more traffic to an online community platform. It is important to locate potential users on the Internet. If people are found who are interested in an online community and its content, recommendations can generate traffic amongst potential members. (How to increase, n.d.)(Maki, 2007b)(Lithium Technologies, 2009)(Barone, 2010)
Figure 3. Traffic of Twitter
Reponses on posts are important, but for the health of an online community time is even more important. When responses are made in a short amount of time the conversation keeps going, when conversations take too long members will lose interest and will not comment anymore. For a company it is very important to respond in a short amount of time, this to keep the customers of a company happy and it creates a possibility to decrease negative postings. Responsiveness can be measured by the number of minutes it takes for people to respond to postings. Unanswered questions and no response to postings make a community unhealthy. (Lithium Technologies, 2009)(Fisher, 2010)(Seddon, 2009)
The basic goal of any community is interaction between members. The amount of postings can be measured, but this does not stated the number of interactions between members because postings can come from the same members. Interaction between community members will be created by postings social topics for them to get to know each other. With social topics the number of people joining the conversations can be measured. (Lithium Technologies, 2009) (Millington, 2010c)
The figure below shows interaction on a community. It is a community about Aruba where members of the community create social bonds by talking about experiences on the island. As stated before it is important to create relationships between members to gain more involvement in the community.
Figure 4. Example of interaction on a community platform. Source: http://www.aruba.com/forum/
A community should have liveliness, this attracts people and motivates them to come back to the community. The atmosphere of a community is really important, not only to motivate people to come back, but also for the participation on the community. People like to have the feeling they can talk about everything they would like without others judging them. Conversations can get out of control this causes an unhealthy community which people do not want to join.
The liveliness of a community can be measured by looking at the number of posts on content of the community website. (Jagadesh, 2010)(Lithium Technologies, 2009)(Carey, 2010)(Seddon, 2009)
1.3.7. Community health index
The community health index helps investigating where special attention in an online community is needed. All the different parts of the community help a community to reach community goals and goals of a company. The community health index is displayed in figure 5. The figure is an easy way to show the healthiness of the community, an explanation of the figure is given below.
Figure 5. Community health index.
The figure shows the health of a community on several times. The colour shows which part of the community is healthy and which parts need special attention. The community in figure 5(part A) is unhealthy because of less liveliness and late responses. A company can make this community healthier by giving some attention to those subjects. These subjects were about the healthiness of the community, but next to these subjects there are other factors that can be measured to establish how successful a community is. The things that make an online community successful have to be kept in mind just as the parts to stay healthy. (DeLong, 2009)
1.4. Valuable functions of social media platforms for professional communities
Kornaat (2010) created a model that combines the Groundswell model of Bernoff and Li with the model of Brake and Safko. The model describes types of Internet users and what type of social media tools should be used by type of user. Seven different types of users can be distinguished, as can be seen on the left side of the model (see Figure 6. Type of users vs. tools). The right side displays different social media tools. That is the part of Brake and Safko. The new model of Kornaat (2010) shows that an inactive (the common Internet user) uses basic social media tools such as photo search. A creator uses a substantial amount of different and more advanced social media tools such as Microblogging.
Figure 6. Type of users vs. tools.
Crowdsourcing is very important for certain projects. A distinction has to be made with regards to what social media platforms are useful for what cause. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook are very usable for crowdsourcing. Twitter provides the opportunity for asking questions by using a hashtag. This reaches a considerable amount of people. Facebook gives the opportunity to ask the opinions of friends. This is a great way of crowdsourcing and provides high quality results. For some projects, where location is important, Google maps can be used because it is easy to implicate and adjusts to a person, or companies, wishes. Another advantages of Google maps is the fact that changes on maps can be added worldwide and has three different views. The world can be seen on a map, by a satellite or by using street view. An often overlooked benefit of Google maps is its simplicity. The application is free and easy to apply to a website or other online platforms. Furthermore, the application does not bother its user with unnecessary bells and whistles. There are plenty of examples to be found on the Internet of the implication of Google Maps in other sites, such as: • Misdaadkaart.nl ; the site gives updates of violations and crimes in the Netherlands. • Marktkijker.nl; Marktkijker helps to find auctions, advertisements and other deals which are on sites like Ebay and Marktplaats. • Ing.nl; on this banks site, ATM’s can be found in the Netherlands on a map.
• X-moment.com; with xmoment, appointments can easily be arranged and
controlled on a map.
• Iens.nl / dinnersite.nl; Dutch restaurants can be found by using a map.
1.5. How can crowdsourcing be used for a successful community
Crowdsourcing is seen as a trend. However, the principles of crowdsourcing are not that new. As a matter of fact crowdsourcing has existed for centuries. The basic principles of crowdsourcing are taking place when a group of people are motivated to perform an activity for a certain person or goal. What is new, is that the term crowdsourcing was invented in June 2006 by Jeff Howe. Howe mentioned the term in Wired magazine. In Wired he stated that the gap between amateurs and professionals has decreased because of current (Internet) technologies. For companies this process provides opportunities for using the talents of the public. Jeff Howe states that this is not outsourcing but crowdsourcing. Since talents of the public can be used, the following question arises: ‘how does crowdsourcing work?’ Crowdsourcing can be described as follows; problems are broadcasted to an unknown group of solvers in the form of an open call for solutions. The crowd, who are mostly in communities, give solutions which can be categorised until the best solution is found. These ‘best solutions’ will be used by the person that broadcasted the problem in the first place (the crowdsourcer). (Scheid, 2010) (Wordsmithbob, n.d.)(Howe, 2006)
1.5.1. Crowdsourcing benefits
When using crowdsourcing the following benefits can be perceived: • Problems can be explored very quickly; • It is very cheap, participants can be rewarded but this is not necessary in every case; • An organization can tap into a wider range of talent than might be present in its own organization; • Organizations can gain first-hand insights on their costumers desires, by listening to the crowd; • The participant will get affinity with the organizations they are helping. (Crowdsourcin, n.d.)
1.5.2. Five conditions
Five conditions can be distinguished for having a successful crowdsourcing project: Firstly, a clearly formulated question or problem statement has to be presented to the crowd. The question or problem statement should be as concise as possible. Secondly, a network of people is needed. However, it is not necessary to have an enormous amount of people on one network. It is important that the right people are reached with regards to a problem. A company should research how the relevant people can be reached and how they can be contacted. A great way to accomplishing that is by creating a community where a person’s expertise is needed. Thirdly, a way to thank the people involved in the crowdsourcing project should be considered. Usually, community members seek attention and appreciation, which should be given to them. An example of doing so is by posting the ten most valuable ideas on a blog or website. These types of rewards are called
‘recognition rewards’ (see chapter 1.7). Monetary rewards can be given, for example free goods or a share in a company. ‘Reaction’ is the fourth condition for a successful project. Ideas that are not useful for the crowdsourcer can be very inspirational for other members of the community. Therefore, all the ideas should be clearly visible and findable for the crowd somewhere on the Internet. This will not only strengthen the community bond, but will also give an indication of the direction the process is going in. It will give insights in how far the process of realising the idea is. The last condition for a project is ‘taking action’. When participants have given enough responses, it is crucial to actually use the obtained information. It is not uncommon obtained information through social media is not used. Therefore, a community manager is essential. (Romkens, 2010)
1.6. Motivation, participation and stimulation
The following paragraph will describe the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on rewarding. Below a short explanation will again be given of the terms frequently used in this chapter to gain a better understanding. • Intrinsic motivation: describes that a task is performed because people get satisfaction from the activity. It indicates that people undertake a task for their need or satisfaction or for their own sake. Borst states that examples of intrinsic motivations are fun or learning. • Extrinsic motivation: This is motivation determined outside a person. Examples of extrinsic motivation can be rewards, money, grades and threat of punishment. Extrinsic motivation can be internalized if the task fits with someone’s morals and beliefs and therefore helps to accomplish their basic psychological needs. (Gagné& Deci, 2005)(Calder, 1975)( Borst & Ende,2010)(Frey& Oberholzer-Gee, 1997) (Deci, 1971)
Social media are not great for building long term, lasting and sustainable commitments. However, they are great for reaching out to people. Content is very important for getting people to join a community. Even a very clear purpose for a group like a common goal, with lots of motivated members, will not be successful if there is nothing to get users together and to get people to contribute. It is not easy to get a large amount of members because people have to be convinced to join a website and to comment and contribute on other work. In his article he stated that good content can achieve this. (Rhodes, 2009) (Haughy, 2001)
Very important for getting and keeping members is usability. A platform that is difficult to use and understand will de-motivate users to come back. Simple and easy to use websites will improve the user experience because users achieved what they wanted to without feeling confused or annoyed (David Kinsella, n.d.).
When looking at ways to keep members of a community active and motivated to participate on a community (platform) the following has to be considered: do people act out of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation and how does this influence their feelings towards rewards? In other words, are rewards good for everybody on a community or can it have negative effects?
Related factors can also influence someone’s behaviour. For example, someone would like to be more active on a community but does not have a lot of time. As was described by Borst & Ende who wrote the paper ‘Effects of motivation and rewards on participation and performance in voluntary activities in online communities’ (hereafter referred to as ‘motivation study’) it can be assumed that people with high intrinsic motivation will be motivated by not having rewards. This is because completing the activity is ‘fun’ for them. They like to do the activity by themselves and because of that, they will not like external factors, like rewards, to push them into doing that activity. (Vansteenkiste, 2004)( Borst & Ende,2010)(Amabile, Hennessy & Tighe, 1994) People with high extrinsic motivation will be motivated by rewards They will perform less when rewards are not there. Furthermore, for extrinsically motivated people their intrinsic motivation will be affected when there are no rewards. For extrinsically motivated people not having rewards will mean the activity is not important which will then lead to less intrinsic motivation. However, it does not work like that the other way around. Rewards will not stimulate them to participate more because they feel that having rewards is normal. When working with extrinsically motivated people it is important to find the type of reward that motivates them to participate. When that type of reward is offered, it will stimulate that person to participate because participation leads to getting the reward. The following figure will further explain what was described above
Figure 7. Extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation
For online communities two types of rewards are common, financial rewards and recognition. Needless to say financial rewards are prizes (in money) for good contributions. This can also be in the form of gifts. A ratings system gives peers the ability to rate an extrinsically motivated person. A rating system measures the number of contributions and their usefulness. A wall of fame can be created for the most active users which is a recognition reward that will increase someone’s status. (Antoniadis & Le Grand, 2007)(Harper, 2007)
Events can also influence someone’s participation levels on a community. There are two types of events; personal- and non-personal events. Personal events can be birthdays or anniversaries. Non personal events can be for example the world cup, before and during the event participation levels increase.
Four factors were described that affect online community motivation, participation and stimulation: content, usability, type of motivation and events. Content is supposed to draw people to a community. It should be a reason for people to go to a community. Usability is essential for a community. Low usability can de-motivate users and high usability can work motivating and stimulating to revisit a community. How to motivate users depends on what type of motivation a person has. Two types where described, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsically motivated persons will be stimulated to participate on the community when there are no rewards. However, extrinsically motivated people are stimulated to participate on a community when either financial rewards or recognition rewards are given. Lastly, events can influence participation on a community.
Following the description of how members can be motivated and stimulated to participate on an online platform, a more elaborate explanation of rewarding active members will be given. This paragraph will follow up on information given in the previous paragraph. Rewarding: ‘act or give recompense in recognition of someone's behaviour or actions’ (Act or, n.d) As stated before, motivation and participation are important for the health and success of an online community (see chapter 1.6 Motivation, participation and stimulation) . Therefore members are required to join a community and to participate in creating high quality content for the community and its members. When attracting people to a community the 1/9/90 rule has to be kept in mind. The rule states that only one percent of the members is actually spending time in contributing to the platform, unlike the ninety percent of members which are lurkers. They are on the community to read and benefit from the content, but will never make any contribution to the content on the online community platform. For the company behind the online community it is essential to know who the people are that are creating user generated content on the community platform so they can be motivated to maintain their contributions. (Suster, 2010)
1.7.1. What is rewarding
Rewarding, the act of giving people something in return for their effort to complete an action. When looking at online community participants are rewarded for their contribution to an online community platform as a way of saying ‘thank you’. A reward can be monetary, this is when the participation is paid for, as is described in the chapter motivation, participation and motivation. Giving money is not the only way to reward people, people can also be rewarded by receiving recognition or a place to show themselves. As described before this can be done by using a rating system. Rewarding people will result in great content and participation on the online community platform. (Antikainen and Väätäjä, 2010) (Brown, 2010)(How to reward, 2010)
1.7.2. Reasons to reward
People mainly contribute because they have fun doing so or because that person wants the give the world correct information and facts about certain subjects. This type of motivation was described before as intrinsic motivation. For example scientists who wrote for Wikipedia, wanted to give correct facts on the Wikipedia website and wrote voluntary articles and facts for the world to read. (Antikainen and Väätäjä, 2010)(Forte and Bruckman, 2005) Besides the fun and information factor people enjoy getting recognition for their work and time they have spent on a community. This was described as extrinsic motivation. Therefore, it could be important for a company to reward the most important participants of the online community platform. This can motivate them to come back and make more contributions. By giving some type of reward a company informs the community that participation is appreciated and of great value for the community. This particularly works for extrinsically motivated people. User generated content is seen just as important as the person behind it, by rewarding the person for his contribution the company is giving him the feeling it cannot function without him. With open recognition on the community platform, more extrinsically motivated people are likely to increase their status
and will therefore start to contribute. (Scrivens, 2007)(Brown, 2010)(How to reward, 2010)(Borst and Ende, 2010)
1.7.3. How to reward
Articles on a website should be sincere and correct. Monetary rewards can lead to insincerity because people are writing to earn money. Participating leads to the reward which, in this case, is money. Another disadvantage of monetary rewards is the fact that people within a company placing content on the community platform might not need to earn extra money. They could start seeing their participation as work which leads to lower levels of intrinsic motivation. That could lead to lower participation levels which is the exact opposite of what a company wants. It was stated that the best reward for participation is recognition for the author. It is essential for companies to be creative when rewarding active members. Especially extrinsically motivated people like to have special status on the community platform. This can be granted in several ways for example by mentioning the authors name, placing backlinks or giving the author an open special status on the online community platform. A rating system measures the number of usefulness of the contributions. An example of rewarding community members for their participation is a pointing system. Members can earn points by participating to the online community platform. By using this system status can be earned within the community. Furthermore, point earners could hand in their points for interesting offers. (Millington, 2008)(Foster, 2008)(Huisman, 2008)(How to reward, 2010)(What are, n.d.)
1.8. Successful professional community
The following paragraph gives an overview of tasks a community starter has to follow, rules to obey and qualities needed. The paragraph describes why the previously named is essential for community success. In addition to that, a community life cycle model is shown explaining the five stages a community goes through. Lastly, an list is made of reasons why communities fail including recommendations on how to avoid these failures.
When starting a community there are a couple of tasks that have to be completed. The community has to have a clear purpose, therefore the community goals have to be clearly formulated. Important is the fact that the members of the community are central, they are what the community is about. The community members need to have some freedom within the community. To maintain the community a community manager is needed. The community manager has to show commitment and spend time to achieve a successful community. Besides managing the community, interesting topics should be placed on the community to gain interest of the community members. Most communities exist because of the contributions of the community members, this is called ‘User generated content’. It is possible to select, redirect and moderate this content. It is not necessary for a website to produce all relevant content, a substantial amount can be imported from other websites. By selecting and combining information from a variety of sources, value will be created. Furthermore, when starting a community the focus should be on social factors. (Gossieaux, 2008)(Netlash, 2009) Community development will be achieved by using a certain step by step plan. Certain factors need to be looked at and researched. First the community goals should be established, a strategy has to be distinguished and a vision for the community has to be developed. The next step is creating a platform, where high usability is essential. When this step is completed the community has to grow. This can be achieved by word of mouth or, for a company, by starting a marketing campaign. The last step focuses on keeping members, for example by
maintaining the community. When maintaining a community rules are set and connections are made. (Dotster, 2009)
1.8.2. Online Communities Life Cycle
Communities arise in different stage, each stage has its own characteristics and needs. When developing a community the needs of potential members have to be considered. This model is based on the Information systems life cycle (ISLC). This model is widely known and used by developers of information systems. The model describes the development and exploitation of a system. In general the model stated that every system has to follow the same process without missing a stage. The five stages of the model are: Inception, Creation, Growth, Maturity and Death.
Figure 8. Five stages model
Source: http://isl.cgu.edu/publicationpdf/16_ACM_CSUR_2006%200042_Online_Communities_Iriberri_and_Leroy_temp_on line.pdf
Inception The first stage of the live cycle is inception. The inception stage is the stage where the idea for an online community is born to fulfil the needs of persons. A vision is created, the type of vision depends on the type of community. To complement the vision, rules for behaviour and communication are set. These rules help to maintain the vision. Creation When a vision is created, technological components can be selected. The components should focus on the preferences of the creator and the first potential members of the community. Setting up the community can start when the technological components are operative and the first group of members start to work together. The community should grow through the medium of word of mouth provided by the first group.
Growth Eventually, when enough members are participating on the community, a culture and identity will be developed. Within the community roles emerge, some members will lead discussions, some will participate and some members are passive. These characteristics are the signature for the growth stage. Maturity When the community is getting bigger the desire for a formal organisation with rules, rewards for contributions, subgroups and specific discussion topics grows. In this stage the community has reached maturity and connections between members are made.
Death During the lifecycle of the community new members will join and old members will go. New members will bring new ideas. This ensures that members will focus. When members start losing focus the community is dying. The community has to deal with bad participation, lack of high quality content and unorganised contributions. (Iriberri & Leroy, 2008)
There are certain circumstances companies have to avoid when starting a community. Companies must avoid starting with the technology and will avoid making a marketing campaign out of the community. Furthermore, companies will not mix their business motives with the consumer motives. A community will fail when no one facilitates the community. Besides that it will be unsuccessful when businesses look at their company goals to determine the success of a community. (Gossieaux, 2008) In the process of creating a successful community there are a couple of obstacles. The biggest obstacle can be found in Deloitte (2009) about ‘Transforming companies with communities and social media’. He describes that the biggest obstacles are getting people to join and member participation. Thinking that members will not come back or that there is enough time to manage the community is also an obstacle. Barricades for companies when starting a community are that members are not keeping their profiles up to date, no finance for enhancing functionality, facilities and the lack of a community managers with experience and expertise. (Deloitte, 2009) Research conducted by Ed Moran (2008) about the changes of communities by communities and social networks shows four reasons why a community can fail. The biggest cause of community failure is the fact that companies put too much trust in the technology behind the community. When companies hear ‘buzzwords’ like website, forum, social networks, social media or web 2.0. They believe integrating these tools will be enough for creating a successful community. A company will invest time and money in technologies and will miss the essential part of a community namely: the planning, the process and the people that make the community. Afterwards most companies will realise they don’t need those technologies. (Helen, 2008)(Catone, 2008) The second reason communities fail is the lack of good strategic planning and managing. Companies underestimate the fact that skills like community
strategising, community management and facilitating a community need time to develop. Furthermore, companies often measure the success of the community wrongly. The company objectives for the community are viral, word of mouth advertising and increasing brand loyalty therefore they should measure the number of unique visitors of a community. However, most companies focus on the increase of members. Growth is not essential, important is maintaining members so a group of regular visitors is created. Furthermore, companies should not compete with social networks because they can and will not replace them. Companies must create interaction, comfort and high quality content with their most loyal users to promote their product. (Helen, 2008)(Catone, 2008) A community cannot be a success when the unequipped people are starting and maintaining the community. Companies often force community management on the web designer, administrator or marketing officer which is a big mistake. Thirty percent of online communities are managed by a part time employee and in most of the cases maintaining the community is done by a PR person. This is a big mistake because these persons are not experts when it comes to communities and they don’t have enough experience in managing communities. To start and lead a successful community the relevant persons should get training and education about leading a community. Another option is hiring a community manager who has experience in building and managing a community. (Helen, 2008)(Catone, 2008) The last reason why a community will fail is because people do not see the added value of the community, especially when the community only portrays the brand of a company. Most visitors stay unique because they are already part of other communities. A community manager could be the solution because a community manager knows what the members of a community need and how first time visitors become regulars. Another big problem occurs when members have trouble finding information or when members get an overload of information. When a community is managed properly ‘information overload’ will not occur. A community should not be the only social media a company is working on. Easy access to the community must be created by having for example Facebook page and Myspace. (Catone, 2008)
1.9. Building an online community
An online community is a group of people who are closely interacting with each other mainly online. The whole group has a shared, unifying goal. To reach this unifying goal it is essential to have a clearly formulated goal for the community. The clearer the goal for the community is, the greater the chance of success. If there are multiple purposes, it is best to list them all. The following suggestions are reasons to start an online community: • • • • • Publish Information Generate discussions about issues or other interesting subjects Provide a place for colleagues to make and answer requests for help Develop ‘’best practice’’ solutions Networking with other people
The only way for online knowledge sharing communities to succeed, is for them to create a build-up of action over time. This applies to large scale communities whose members are widely spread geographically, which makes face-to-face
meetings almost impossible for the majority of the members in the community. Creating an online community is like a construction project. Provide the bricks and mortar to build the environment and the members will start living there and become active participants. (Parrish, 2009)(USAID, n.d.)(Customer communities, 2009) There is a good community manager behind every good community who constantly updates the community with new content and creates interaction within it. The community manager also filters the members of the community and decides who can be given a more active role in the community. Another job of the community manager is to avoid chaos and abusive talks in the community. Therefore the community needs to have certain rules, these rules define what is acceptable and what is not. A community manager should avoid controlling the crowd because the job involves guiding the crowd. This is a potential risk. Additionally, the community manager has to reward the community members by for example giving a quick response to a question of a community member. (Bertens, 2008) (Betancourt, 2010) (Customer communities, 2009) (Parrish, 2009) The most important aspect of a successful (active) community is creating interaction; if there is a steady flow of interaction, community managing becomes significantly easier. Several aspects should be taken into account when creating interaction because this establishes a robust community. (Andrews, 2002) (Enhancing online, n.d.)
1.9.1. Community interaction
There are several types of community interaction. Each has implications from a community and platform development perspective. A community needs to offer clear benefits for members. The best communities force members to interact, to achieve the benefit offered by the community. Great communities make it impossible not to interact. These force members to share an idea, opinion, rating or criticism on the community.
The core of community interaction involves community members interacting with each other. Members join a community because similar interests are shared. This is a great base for forming relationships. Unsurprisingly, building relationships online requires assistance. This occurs through face-to-face community meetings, community developed projects, within online discussions, email threads and phone calls. • Between a community member and the site; Community interaction that occurs between the community member and the site requires a lot of improvement. The platform has to seduce the (future) members in order for them to keep coming back and interact within the community. The online platform becomes the meeting place for all members. (Enhancing online, n.d.)
• Between community members;
1.9.2. Keep the community interactive
To keep a community interactive, the interactions have to be organic (people interacting) and started by the members. After a while it is no longer up to the community manager to create all interactions, these should be created by the members themselves. This will help make all members of a community become authors who build content and grow conversations. However, a community manager is still needed to guide and help these member generated conversations and interactions.
1.9.3. Keeping members active
Keeping members active is key to building a robust community. Smaller groups, with member numbers not exceeding 13, are ideal for members to feel comfortable and to participate. A variety of these groups has to exist within a community. Larger discussion groups are also needed, however these groups can hold smaller groups to increase feelings of recognition. Keeping members happy is the key to keeping them active. Creating a rewarding system is a great way to keep members motivated to interact and participate. A rewarding system does not have to cost money, it can be as simple as creating a ranking system, where members who post the most in a week are placed on the platforms main page. Motivations such as rewards are a great way to motivate visitors to revisit a community and to build a sense of belonging to a community. (Enhancing online, n.d.) To keep the crowd active on a community it is important for members to trust the community. Therefore, it is important to be honest to the crowd. When members are let down by the community their participation on the community often stops. In other words disappointed members become inactive members. (Betancourt, 2010)
2.0. Potential end-user
Seventy to eighty percent of failed product development does not fail because of the lack advanced technology but because of the lack of understanding user needs. Therefore, it is essential to know the end user of a product. End-user research has to be conducted for each project. End-user surveys have been conducted by using companies and schools involved. (The National College of Art and Design, 2005) Research has been conducted on online communities related to seafarers. A distinction has been made between three different groups. The first group consists of communities on an online platform, the second group consists of communities on Wiki’s and the last group consists of communities on social platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. These online communities are described in paragraph “2.1 Online mariner communities”. An online survey has been conducted amongst the Facebook group “Seafarers”. This is stated in section “2.2 Online survey; Facebook group “Seafarers”. Finally, in the section “2.3 Future end-user” the results of the interview with the future end-users at the Abel Tasman school are described. By using the information an image was created of the end-users’ habits, needs and expectations.
2.1. Online mariner communities
Research has been conducted on online communities related to seafarers. A distinction has been made in three different groups. The first group consists of communities on an online platform, the second group consists of communities on Wiki’s and the last group consists of communities on social platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
2.1.1. Online platforms communities
This paragraph describes the most established seafarer communities which are located on an online platform. The following are analysed: ActiveCaptain, VisitMyHarbour, TeamSurv and Oceanuslive. 220.127.116.11. ActiveCaptain Purpose At the site ActiveCaptain knowledge can be shared and experience and knowledge can be gained that other captains have. Registered users can communicate corrections, update information and create reviews.
Figure 9. ActiveCaptain homepage.
Users The site is mainly used by boaters (mostly from America). Mariners are also the target group of the platform. The users can provide information and share their experience. Other benefits for using this are the articles on it (about for example; mobile on board, dogs onboard and medical help) and the webshop. Community ActiveCaptain provides a framework that will allow fellow mariners to share their knowledge and experience. It’s Wiki-style database allows users to make additions, changes, and deletions to the information. ActiveCaptain is free for all registered users. (MyBoatsGear, 2010a)(Active Captain, 2010) 18.104.22.168. VisitMyHarbour Purpose This platform is a guide to provide timely and detailed information about various ports, harbours, estuaries, rivers and inlets around the coast of the UK.
Figure 10. VisitMyHarbour homepage.
Users The platform is tailored to mariners, most of them are settled in the UK. The user can add comments about used harbours. VisitMyHarbour has all kinds of information about the harbour, the sailing directions and mooring options such as; local facilities, pubs and dining. Community People can share information on this platform, but most people are not motivated to do so. This is notable because there is no data uploaded by other people. So it wants to be a community, but with this small number of people who are posting, it can hardly be called a community. (MyBoatsGear, 2010b)
22.214.171.124. TeamSurv Purpose TeamSurv want to use crowdsourcing to enhance the quality of nautical charts. (Euronav's seaPro, 2010)
Figure 11. TeamSurv homepage.
Users The users of TeamSurv are marines and partners of TeamSurv. Users need certain things on board their vessels, such as a GPS receiver and a depth sounder, before the users can participate on the community. This platform is an project which helps to improve the quality of nautical charts of coastal waters. The user needs to have experience in using the advantaged equipment that this project requires. The platform also has a forum and you can track ships. Community Members of the TeamSurv community can log data from instruments on the ships, whilst doing the normal activities at sea. As TeamSurv collects the information, changes will be corrected in the maps. (TeamSurv ,n.d)(Euronav's seaPro, 2010)(Admin, 2010)
126.96.36.199. Oceanuslive Purpose The purpose of Oceanuslive is to collaborate within a single, secure environment to enhance the safety and security of vessels at sea. This is especially intended for vessels found in high threat or dangerous environments. An example of high threat is piracy.
Users Oceanuslive has no users at the moment, because it is not live yet. The future users will be: Ship and yacht masters, CSOs, duty personnel ashore, and relevant maritime safety and security bodies. (OCEANUSLive.org , 2010) Community The community is not live at the moment. The users will have to register before joining the community. Therefore users have to give information about their rank and company they work for. In the community users can share information about threats at sea, for instance crime. (Tweed, 2010)
188.8.131.52. Overview Here is an short overview of the seafarer communities which are located on online platforms.
Table 1. Overview online platforms
Creator Communi ty Manager Usability Motivati ng Open / Closed Visitors Age Visitors educatio n Visitors sex Visitors with children Visitors browse at Mobile website available and usable Usable on iPad Alexa Traffic Rank People who only look at one page of the site
Karen & Jeffrey Siegel Yes 8 9 Open Most visitors are between 45-54 years . Mostly Some education Mostly males Mostly not Mostly at work Yes
Black Culm, Mackenzie & Bryant. Yes 7 5 Open Most visitors are between 45-54 and also a lot between 35-44 Mostly some education and also a lot no education Mostly males Mostly not Mostly at work Unknown
Teamsurv Yes 5 8 Closed Unknown
Glen Forbes & Ryan Wallace Yes 7 Unknown Closed Unknown
Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
In the near future 1,414,629 42%
Most likely 310,836 13%
Unknown 9,870,010 33%
Most Likely 12,753,055 Unknown
Country’ s Last Update
United States 58% Canada 30.7% 17-1-2011
UK 95% 17-1-2011
2.1.2. Online Wiki communities
This paragraph describes the most established seafarer communities which are based upon a Wiki structure. The following are analysed: Yachtpilot, Captainwiki and Skipperguide. 184.108.40.206. Yachtpilot Purpose Yachtpilot is a free cruising guide that provides practical information about entering and leaving ports safely. Up to the minute tidal and weather information and also where to berth in the ports. Furthermore the guide gives information about accommodations and local maps to find way around in the towns you’re visiting. The website has unvarnished opinions from the author.
Figure 13. Yachtpilot homepage.
Users The target group of the website are sailors based in the UK and motor cruiser owners. The users are unable to share their own experience on the website, only the author can place information on it. Content Port section: this section has general information about how to enter ports and the city (accommodations and how to get around) where the port is located. The weather forecasts related to the port are located at the bottom of the page. Extra section: the Yottypedia contains important facts about sailing at sea. There is a quiz section where you can test your knowledge. The quiz is about information that is on the platform. Useful information from other websites can be found in the ‘links’ section. Info section: The ‘how’ section gives hints on how to use the website. The ‘about’ section has information about what Yachtpilot is.
220.127.116.11. Captainwiki Purpose The purpose of Captainwiki is to share and edit all kinds of helpful nautical related information. From island exploring, bay navigation, and passage stories to checklists, tips and anything concerning the cruising lifestyle. Basically, it is a Wikipedia where everyone can share information about the possibilities of harbours all around the world.
Figure 14. Captainwiki homepage.
Users & community Captainwiki is an open wiki focused on sailors, boaters, sailing crew, coast guard, and other businesses from all around the world. Users can share and read information about secret anchorages, boats, marinas and services on the wiki. Content Navigation section: The opportunity is given to ask questions and talk about everything in the ‘Cruisers’ Pub’ section. Recent changes can be followed at the ‘recent changes’ section. Cruising guides section: this section is categorized by region, by clicking on a region an overview of the countries within that region is given. information can be found about the major ports, marinas, weather & climate, passages & navigation, tides & currents, radio & communications, safety & security, maritime claims, associations & clubs, publications and blogs. Articles section: there is a section where a profile page can be made about your boat such as captain, boat type and cruising time. Blogs about travel experiences can be made at the ‘Cruising blog’ section. The Sailing Forums section has links to other forums related to boats and other important nautical information. The ‘Boat Manufacturers’ section contains information about all kinds of boat types where users are able to discuss and add information about their boat type. There is a ‘Sea Sickness Remedies’ section that has information about preventing sea sickness and how to cure sea sickness. Travel blogs section: at the ‘My Blogs’ section blogs can be made, but login in needed first. There is the possibility to read other users their personal travel blogs at the All Blogs section. (Online Cruising, 2009)
18.104.22.168. Skipperguide Purpose The purpose of the platform is to edit information about different areas on the sea such as: Mediterranean, Baltic Sea, North Sea, Atlantic and Caribbean. Users can find information about the area where they can sail and where they find a restaurant. With this platform they want to help the normal sailor to plan his trip and help him during the trip with information about manoeuvre, navigation, ropes and knots, weather, Cruise execution, health and first aid and of course the different areas on sea. The platform is like a normal wiki, every user can edit and change information. The platform Skipperguide is a partner of openseamap.com which is a platform that offers free sea maps.
Figure 15. Skipperguide homepage.
Users The Wiki is an open platform, the user does not have to register on the platform. The user can register on the platform and has the following advantages: • They create an identity and a name to give the other user the chance to see what you done and which information you edit. • You can generate a watch list to see which articles are changed. • The user will be reached by email without the address being displayed publicly. Content The information about the different areas at sea is divided in Mediterranean, Baltic Sea, North Sea, Atlantic and Caribbean. The different areas can be found by users by clicking on them. The user can find information about the culture, where they can sail, etc. The information is not the same overall but dependent on what the user wants to write about the country/area. Furthermore, users have the ability to gain information about manoeuvre, navigation, ropes and knots, weather, cruise execution, health and first aid.
22.214.171.124. Overview Here is an short overview of the seafarer communities which are based upon an Wiki structure.
Table 2. Overview Wiki communities
Creator Community Manager Usability Motivating Open/closed Visitors age
Rodney Lord Unknown 6.5 7 Open Unknown
Visitors education Visitors sex Visitors with children Visitors browse at Mobile website available and usable Usable on iPad Alexa Traffic Rank People who only look at one page of the site Countries Last update
Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Yes
Ben Walsh Yes (Ben Walsh) 6 7.5 Open (login) Females without children, work related Unknown Mostly males Most visitors have children Most visitors browse at work No
Peter Schrey Unknown 6,5 6,5 Open Males around 45-54 with children, work related Mostly graduate school Almost only males Most visitors have children Most visitors browse at work Yes
Yes 7,666,841 Unknown
Unknown 3,098,822 Unknown
Yes 790,999 Unknown
77.2% United States 17-1-2011
91% Germany 17-1-2011
2.1.3. Social platform communities
This paragraph describes the most established seafarer communities which are located on a social media platform. A distinction has been made between seafarer communities who are either on Facebook or on LinkedIn. 126.96.36.199. Facebook communities Several Facebook communities related to seafarers have been analysed. The following table demonstrates an overview of the analysed communities.
Table 3. Overview Facebook communities
Maritime Union of Australian
Members Owner (s)
688 Erol Taş (Turkey)
Website Founded Posts last 2 weeks Advertisemen ts Chat Updates by email Have there been posts on the forum the last two weeks? Are the posts only workrelated or broader Purpose
x 8-04-2009 1 Yes Yes No No
2268 Jw Pretorius (South Africa) & Colin Jenkins (Ireland) seasoulfood.bl ogspot.com 26-08-2009 5 Yes Yes Yes Yes
1535 Warren Smith (Australia), Mick Doleman (Australia) and others mua.org.au 14-10-2008 11 Yes Yes Yes No
2301 Tamer Moussa (Egypt) X 07-08-2009 1 Yes Yes No No
Mostly work related, sometimes broader Keep in contact. For seafarers, their friends, families and port chaplains 17-1-2011
Everyone involved with the Maritime Union of Australia 17-1-2011
Mostly work related, sometimes broader Keep in contact. For everybody who knows what shipping is. 17-1-2011
188.8.131.52. LinkedIn communities Several LinkedIn communities related to seafarers have been analysed. The following table demonstrates an overview of the analysed communities.
Table 4. Overview LinkedIn communities
Marine Professionals Logo Members Owner(s) Website Founded Post last 2 weeks Advertisements Chat Update by email Have there been posts on the forum the last two weeks? Are the posts only work-related or broader Purpose 1677 James McRae (UK) & Hannah Flint (UK) Imarest.org 12-02-2009 63 No No Yes No, there is no forum
638 John A Konrad (California, USA) & Rob Almeida (Texas, USA) Gcaptain.com 17-10-2008 79 No No No No, there is no forum
Work related For people who seek professional recognition, studying, starting their career, or people who are interested. 11-1-2011
Mostly work related, sometimes broader For people who worked commercially on sea. Maritime Academy Alumni, cadets and professors are also welcome 17-1-2011
2.2 Colin Jenkins ‘Seafarers’
A mariner and owner of the Facebook community “Seafarers” was mailed concerning the Wikipilot project. Colin Jenkins his reaction was that he is very interested in the Wikipilot project and supplied us with additional information about the world of seafarers. The most important information related to Internet use, community use, mobile Internet and Internet risks of his response is listed below. Internet use The Internet use onboard a vessel differs. Filipinos, Indians and Chinese mariners are onboard for about nine to twelve months, in comparison to western mariners who usually stay onboard a vessel for three to four months. When Asian mariners stay onboard longer, they use the Internet to stay in touch with their family and friends. Community use Facebook is used frequently amongst mariners, next to Facebook there are other social network platforms especially for certain groups of people. Ukrainians have a social network named Contact. Chinese and Koreans are at this moment less interested in social networks, this could change when Internet becomes more accessible onboard. Mobile Internet Now a day’s mariners have their laptops with them while onboard a vessel. They use their laptops to avail of the Internet WI-FI onboard or free Internet available in the harbour. WI-FI facilities onboard via satellite are useful, but will not be sufficient for people who would like to use Skype or Youtube, as the speed is too slow. A solution for mobile Internet is a Huawei WIFI device which runs five laptops without reducing broadband speed. This device is popular amongst mariners according to Collin Jenkins. In most harbours there is free Internet available. Another possibility is an unlocked dongle, they work world wide and only need a local Internet SIM card. Because of the fact that mariners have shorter periods of time in harbours these days, it is not always possible to use Internet facilities. Therefore Internet onboard a vessel can be important to stay in contact with family and friends. Months away from home without Internet or a possibility to contact home can become very lonely. Risks of Internet use onboard Activities where all crewmembers of a vessel are involved are important for the group’s atmosphere. Activities onboard are relaxing, mariners tell stories or playing sports and games together. Internet use onboard a vessel made changes in the way crewmembers spent their time at sea. With the introduction of Internet, the risk arises that crewmembers spend more time in their cabin to stay in touch with friends and family instead of spending time with each other. Contact with home is important, but it needs to be balanced with the “family” onboard. Another risk of Internet use onboard a vessel is radiation from mobile phones and wireless Internet devices as described by www.mercola.com. Many mariners talk for hours on their mobile phones and use WI-FI devices regularly. The risk of
radiation is bigger for mariners compared to people who can use Internet with LAN connection and landlines for telephones.
2.3 Online survey; Facebook group “Seafarers”
In completing field research regarding starting an online community for mariners an online survey was sent to communities on Facebook. With the help of the Facebook community ‘Seafarers’ a survey was completed regarding mariners’: Internet experience/behaviour, social media usage, mobile devices, knowledge sharing when on sea and motivations to participate on a platform. The online survey showed that the mariners gather information from the Internet through various online software for their daily activities. The most commonly used online software services are; • Email services; For receiving chart corrections and navigational updates. • RSS-readers; Subscriptions to several RSS-feeds related to the maritime field. • Social media; A common social media platform that is used for gathering information is Facebook. • News services; News services related to the maritime field, but also general (internal) news. • Online learning programs/tools; For learning new important things. • Weather services; For information about the upcoming weather such as ‘buienradar’. • Websites; Information regarding harbour facilities and ship supplies. When asked what kind of content the mariners would like to see and share on a platform for mariners, the following topics were mentioned; • General information about the maritime industry; News about related companies, mariners life and experience, new technologies. • Maritime related information; Tips and how-to’s about for example food, hygiene, engineering, studies and fix problems that come up. • Information about sailing; Weather forecasts, tide predictions, accident report and information about safety, stability control and celestial navigation. • Information about other ships; Name, location, type. Several applications are used on mobile devices by seamen. A few examples are; • Social media; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Myspace. • News; Finance, Sports. • Communication; Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, Email, MSN messenger. • Google and Yahoo; For searching information.
The survey showed that most mariners are experienced in using the Internet. Many software services are used as well as applications on mobile devices. The survey showed that mariners are enthusiastic about and have a clear opinion of what should be on the platform.
2.4 Students (Abel Tasman)
To get an image of the potential end users for the Wikipilot project a brainstorm session was held with six students and one teacher of the nautical education school Abel Tasman at Delfzijl. These students will be future mariners and might be the end users of the Wikipilot community platform. The students have completed an internship of six months at sea and gained their practical experience during this period. At this moment they are at the final stage of their study and will attempt their final internship in February. While at sea, Internet is not available on every ship. The questioned students experienced being onboard of a ship with and without Internet. Internet is not available on every ship at sea, the students experienced being onboard of a ship with and without Internet. The general Internet use The students explained they use Internet on a regular basis, one of the students is online almost 24/7 when at home. The potential end users of the Wikipilot community platform use the Internet to visit a variety of websites such as Tweakers.net and Nu.nl. Next to leisure information the Internet is used to gain information about the shipping industry. From the responses of the students it can be concluded that the Internet is important in daily life, when at sea Internet is not being missed in most cases. The online community use All students who were interviewed are a member of an online community. The communities they use are Hyves and Facebook, the frequency varies among the students. The community platforms are used to stay in contact with friends, family and crewmembers that they have met during their internships. The students noticed that especially Philippine crewmembers are Facebook users. The students stated that they use communities mostly for staying in contact. Photos and comments are rarely shared. One student mentioned that he sees no point in sharing private information with other members of an online community. Internet onboard of a vessel The brainstorm session showed that Internet is being paid for on most vessels. The crewmembers buy credit in minutes for the use of Internet onboard the vessel. For this reason the crew makes use of Internet mostly in harbors where there is a possibility for free Internet. The students stated that the internet use onboard of a vessel is far less than in daily life. The crew of a vessel at sea are a team where personal contact is important. To gain information they consult each other more than consulting the Internet. The students mentioned that the Internet onboard a vessel is used for several reasons. The most important reason given was reading and sending email, this type of online communication is used frequently while at sea. Social media is another important aspect, popular amongst mariners are Facebook and Skype. One of the students stated that many vessels have a bandwidth limit, which causes failure in the use of Skype and MSN. Therefore Skype and MSN are mostly used ashore. The Internet is also consulted to gain information about the weather, local news and news from the shipping industry. Mariners can subscribe to an email service where local news is offered from various digital newspapers. Mariners can decide which newspaper they want to receive in their mail, like the Dutch newspaper
Metro or an English newspaper. One student mentioned that news from the shipping industry is collected by Piet Sinke from Maasmond Maritime. He bundles the news from the shipping industry and offers these news clippings as an email service. The news clippings can also be read on the website maasmondmaritime.com. Mobile devices and paper versus hardcopy All questioned students have a Smartphone with access to the Internet. Documents and information onboard a vessel are in most cases on paper. Even when information is available digitally, the information is signed and archived in hardcopy. According to the students digital data is lost easily and consulting digital information needs power. The students think this is a big disadvantage of digitalization. The students do recognize that sea charts changed over the years by introducing digital charts. Old vessels only use paper charts at the moment, new vessels are required to have digital charts onboard. This means new vessels need to have two digital charts. If there is only one digital chart onboard it is required to have a paper chart as well. The students think that the introduction of the Ipad onboard of a vessel has no added value compared to the present computer. The students stated that company X has to add real value to the use of the Ipad and their application. Furthermore, the application needs to be professional and easy to use. Content for the Wikipilot community platform In the beginning of the brainstorm session the Wikipilot project was explained and the fact that the community is about nautical safety information and interaction with other mariners. Leisure information on the community platform is needed to attract potential members and make the community interesting to use. Students’ opinions were asked regarding to content on the Wikipilot community platform. The students stated that at this moment leisure information is mostly shared among crewmembers, port staff and the shipping agent. The students emphasized that the shipping agent grew up in the neighborhood of the harbor and knows about the good places to go. Bars that are visited by most crewmembers and there is a sailors centre in every harbor. The students stated that information from other mariners on an community platform add value to the information that they have at this moment. The students mentioned that shared information and content should be about different kind of subjects. For example bars, café’s, excursions, but also erotic information. When erotic information is offered there should be a form of restriction where not every community member is confronted with information they do not want to gain. Therefore it is possible to make the community platform personalized like for example iGoogle. The students and their teacher talked about nautical safety information and the procedure they have to follow at the moment. The nautical safety information is mostly updated in the harbors with the use of WI-FI Internet, USB or CD-rom data provided by companies like company X. Paper charts are updated by hand when arriving at the harbor. One of the students mentioned that there are many mistakes in charts, especially in Asia. Changes can be made in their own digital system, but cannot be shared with other vessels. When there are official changes or warnings at sea this can be passed by using the radio. The students stated that nautical information should be reliable and verified, the information that is going to be shared on the
community platform needs to have strict monitoring. They stated that unverified information will not be used. At this moment changes in the navigation book provided by company X are sent by mail, important content on the Wikipilot community platform will therefore be the navigation book in file type PDF according to the students. The information will be digitally available and changes can be sent by email or via the community platform. The teacher of Abel Tasman stated that nautical information on Navtex devices can only be seen with the Navtex system. If company X could replace the Navtex system by posting the content on the community platform this could be of great value for the shipping industry. Furthermore celestial navigation and tide information would attract members from the shipping industry according to the teacher. The final statement of the students and their teacher about the content on the community platform is that the information on the Wikipilot community platform should be exclusive and not shown anywhere else on the Internet. This makes it useful for the shipping industry. People who should join the Wikipilot community The students stated that the most important people on the Wikipilot community platform are the crewmembers of vessels. The crewmembers are people who would be interested in the content on the community platform and would share the most important information with other community members. The students mentioned that for leisure information the shipping agents from various harbors should be included as a member of the community. They have a lot of information about the harbor area, they are in. Next to the shipping agent, the shipping companies who are settled in the harbor could be of great value. The students stated that members have to be from the professional shipping industry, because they share the same interest and information needs. Recreational boats and inland shipping have other interests and priorities. The teacher thinks that pilotage will form an important group of members within the community. Pilotage is an advisor on navigation and could be a strong partner within the community. Furthermore it can provide important information and content. Vision on the Wikipilot project The students and their teacher shared their vision on the Wikipilot project. They mentioned that if company X wants to make the online community platform a success it is important to create a strong network of existing customers. A small group of people can build a strong network and a good working system. Within the shipping industry there is a lot of talking according to the students. When the community platform turns out to be a success, advertisement in the form of word of mouth will take place. Mariners are suspicious about information that is not official, so company X needs to build trust between the community and the shipping industry.
The following chapter consists of conducted expert interviews on the following topics: crowdsourcing and community building. Experts interviewed are specialized in different fields of interest. A summary has been made of the afore named interviews. Secondly, the interviews were analyzed and compared to information retrieved by desk research. Furthermore, the views of similar experts were compared to distinguish similarities in their opinions. Described is how a community can be analyzed with the help of the figure “Environment of online communities” and the model “Three layer structure“. Also there is stated in the paragraph “3.1 Analysing online communities” how budget and a rewarding system can be considered when building a community. The paragraph “3.2 Open or Closed“ describes the opinions of the experts about an open or closed community. There are also several factors that should be considered before building a community. But a community manager is an important part in a community as well as the member quantity and crowdsourcing. Moreover the exclusivity is important for a professional community. Finally it is essential that existing accounts and communities are linked with each other. All these factors are described in paragraph “3.3 community”. It is essential to use social media in an online community without creating an dependency on them. This is stated in section “3.4 Social media”.
3.1. Analysing online communities
The four factors that build a community are defined as (see figure 16):
Figure 16. Environment of online communities (the network)
Information; the information that gets shared within a community defines the type of community. For a community it is essential to create new content, you can do this by updating the agenda, news-items, links and products but it has to stay within the predefined scope related to the information. Members; members within a community are people that have connections with each other. Activities; activities such as meeting each other at conferences, seminars and product exhibitions results in a stronger coherence of a community. Market; the market is the environment in which a community operates. This environment consists of educational teams, jobs and companies that have a lot of products. Managing an online community can be done by scoping the previously mentioned factors. Basically, it is essential to keep creating new information (content) and exchange it with the community members. Participating in offline and online activities is also important to stimulate the coherence of the community. The activities, community members and information are all scoped by the market they operate in.
Figure 17. The three layer structure
3.1.1. Layer one: Federation
A federation layer is the governing body that covers either existing online communities from the same field that share similar knowledge or gives birth to new online communities consisting of different disciplines. This governing body can be a project issued by a company or any group of professionals that want to invest time and money. The federation layer is the front-page. It connects members of different communities with each other for the benefit of knowledge exchange and stimulates community members to participate.
3.1.2. Layer two: Communities
The communities are a group of people that have similar interests, needs, concerns, desires, related experience and knowledge. Communities can be based on the peoples demographics, languages, themes or organizations. Each has their own development targets, sub-groups (workgroups), content, members, organization and identity.
3.1.3. Layer three: Workgroups
Within the communities, people can be part of a workgroup. Workgroups can be
defined as a group of people who work together on a project, ideas or discuss topics. It revolves around producing new knowledge. For example they might request additional products/services to be manufactured or suggests improvements on existing products/services. The workgroup disbands when the goal has been reached but the created information stays thus creating a long lasting connectivity at a higher level.
Figure 18. Example Federation model
3.1.4. The connection between the three layers
The essence of this model is knowledge exchange. The federation level enables public information sharing among all the communities. A community allows information sharing at a more local level. And the workgroups of communities are the authors of the content. This empowers the members of the communities to develop their knowledge. The content that is created by the workgroups can either be placed on the federation level or it can stay within the community. Should multiple communities be interested in the same content-type than it should be brought to a federation level. A good overview of existing content within all the communities is essential. Tagging enables the opportunity to categorize the content which makes it more accessible. Communities may have as much content as they want which can then be categorized in as many categories as they want. When applying the model to the Hanze University of Applied Sciences then the Hanze would be the federation. The faculties are the communities of the federation and the courses of the faculties are the workgroups. When multiple faculties (communities) work together on a similar project then information about this project should be posted on the front-page of the Hanze (federation level). The project in question is done by multiple courses (workgroups) of different faculties.
3.1.5. Budget and rewarding
The following two aspects have to be considered when building a community: the budget and a rewarding system. A detailed explanation about these two aspects is listed below. Budget It is imperative to know that building and managing a online community will cost money. About 80% of the costs will go into moderation (updating, creating and modifying content) of the community the rest is spent on the infrastructure. Covering some of the costs by letting people pay for membership fees is out of the question. Associated advertising is allowed and can cover up to 50% of the costs. Rewarding Any kind of effort that a member puts in an online community should be stimulated by rewarding him or her. This can either be done in the form of giving a comment on the input of the user or a ranking system that enables the possibility to create a top 10 overview of the active users. Active user participation can be stimulated within the community by appreciating the contributions of each member. Basically, make each community member feel special.
3.2. Open or closed
An online community that wants to be active on a worldwide scale, and wants to create user participation and support in a certain sector, should have transparency as their main priority. It is widely known that online communities are all about knowledge sharing in social or business related areas. In order to distinguish yourself as an new and upcoming online community it's essential that there is an emphasis on which resources the online community is using and how they have embedded these resources on the online platform. These resources are highlighting the community activities. This allows potential members and partners to get an insight in the activities and used resources of the online community. An online community should be open to new ideas and knowledge from other parties such as competitors and existing related online communities. The previously mentioned level of transparency is not only about the online community sharing their knowledge but also take in new ideas and knowledge within the online community. This can be done by acquiring new partnerships with competitors and build up relationships with other online communities. It is essential for online communities to have a set of predefined access rules. Most communities allow people to be a spectator which means that they cannot participate unless they register to the online platform. This ensures that people that could possibly harm the online community with unwanted content will stay out. The people who are motivated and interested in the online community will register to the online platform and contribute to the online community. It is imperative that these access rules are strictly enforced by the moderators to guarantee the quality of the content and the credibility of the online community. The moderators should look at the background of the registrants to see if they are linked with existing related online communities and assess if the registrants would be of value to the online community or not. Every participant should be a part of the core business of an online community which is knowledge sharing and should contribute with innovative ideas and knowledge. Basically, one part of the online platform is open to allow spectators and the
other part is closed to guarantee the quality and credibility.
A community has several factors that should be considered before building one. These factors are listed below. • Management; someone has to be given the responsibility to manage the community and to enforce the developed business strategy. The strategy should be clear about who is responsible for what, how much time the activities are expected to take and what the costs are. • Users; it is essential to create a clear overview about the users their demographics, habits and attitude which should be included in a userprofile. This overview gives an insight in how users can be reached and how to trigger them to use the community platform. Additionally, a policy should be formulated when users are considered to be regulars. • Growth; groups within the community and user stimulation are important for users to bond with each other in order for the community to grow. • Content; a content calendar has to be made which describes the type and the quantity of content but also when the content should be posted on the community platform. Keep in mind that the emphasis shouldn't be on content but on making connections otherwise you risk getting low user participation. • Platform; a decision has to be taken about what type of platform should be used for example: open or closed source, custom made or an all-in-one package. Community platforms should have several key functions which should be supported by the software package such as a community history, a who’s who of members, a list of upcoming events, plans for the future, FAQ and contact details. The before mentioned factors should always regard the fact that the emphasis should be on the users and not on the benefits of the company.
3.3.1. Community manager
The community manager as previously is mentioned in chapter 1.2.2 is responsible for the community. An aspect that gets forgotten most of the time is the psychological aspect. As a community manager it is important to have knowledge about potential social influences and group dynamics that could affect the community in either a positive or a negative way. This means that the community manager has to keep in mind that every action has a reaction.
3.3.2. Member quantity
An online community its success cannot be measured by the quantity of members. The size of an online community does not matter. What matters is to set a predefined member target. The idea behind a predefined member target is to ensure the most optimal participation of each community member. To determine the ideal amount of participants in the online community. There is a calculation that helps with setting a member target. The calculation is as follows: estimate the required amount of time to keep each user active and divide this number by the community managers time. For example: if a community manager has 24 hours each week to manage the community members and each member requires five minutes to manage in order to keep him or her active, then the member limit that is controllable by a community manager is around 288 community members.
3.3.3. Community management styles
There are two levels which influence the management style concerning online communities. These levels are defined as follow:
• Micro level; this level puts an emphasis on recognizing each individual
community member their contributions. user group their contributions.
• Macro level; this level puts an emphasis on recognizing each community
Choosing either of these management styles depends on the size and purpose of the community. A community manager has only a limited amount of time to control the community members. When the amount of time required to manage each community member is more than the time the community manager has then there are two available options, either hire an additional community manager or start managing on a macro level. Going from managing an online community on a micro level to a macro level results in restructuring the physical and social ladder. With this new structure user groups should be formed when a new popular hot topic is on the front page. These user groups have to be in the spotlight (achievable by using a ranking system) to reflect the activity of the community on federation level and in order to draw new group members.
Crowdsourcing can be used for online communities. There are three steps that have to be carefully thought out before using any community for the benefit of crowdsourcing. These three steps are as follows:
• Listening; create a clear overview (categorize) of the community its • •
community members Connecting; new user groups will be formed when linking community members with each other to solve existing problems or to create new innovative ideas Interacting; community members within these existing user groups get involved with new projects thus new user groups will be formed
An important aspect to consider when building an online community is exclusivity. There has to be value for the members of the community. This value strengthens the bond between the community members, thus creating a strong community feeling. The value can either be a social offline meeting or attending an international conference together with community members.
3.3.6. Linking existing accounts and communities
Another important aspect these days besides exclusivity is linking. There are two types of linking that can be distinguished from each other and both serve different purposes. These are as follows:
• Linking existing accounts; using an external account to login on a other
online platform or synchronizing account information from an existing account in order to create a new account on a different online platform. For example; Google enables the account owner to login into other online platforms such as YouTube or Blogger. Linking communities; asking existing communities to participate in a new project in order to establish a broader support.
A downside of many community platforms is signing-up and having to fill in all the same tedious information that has been done several times before. This issue can be solved by linking existing accounts which enables new members to signup faster and easier. A strong foundation is needed for communities that target a worldwide audience. This foundation is created by linking existing communities together. The user groups of the existing communities are able to form new groups and build-up new connections. The whole purpose of linking existing communities is to emphasize creating new connections instead of building up a brand new community from scratch.
3.4. Social media
The essence of social media is interaction with a large crowd. It is a two-way communication that takes place on an online platform. Creating a plan to reach customers by using a social media platform is very important. This plan should go into on which social media platforms are the customers and for which purpose will the platform be used. The purpose can vary from informing customers, starting new discussions, monitoring user responses (feedback) or promoting a brand, product or service. It is all about sharing and receiving relevant information. The most well-known social media platform at this moment which supports the previously mentioned purposes is Facebook. This social media platform offers any company the possibility to create an online fan page. On this fan page a company can place content such as plain text, photos and videos. This enables the visitor of the fan page to learn more about the brand, products and services of the company. The unique selling point of social media is as previously mentioned, the two-way communication. Visitors of the fan page have the opportunity to place comments or show their interests by clicking on the world famous Like button. Additionally, the company is able to monitor and respond to the visitors their reactions. Monitoring is used to improve their products and services which enhances the overall image of the brand and responding is used to support and to develop a relationship with their visitors. All in all social media allows a company to make their business processes more transparent to the general public. It is imperative to know that social media shouldn't be integrated as a main function on a community platform. Integration creates a dependency on the social media platform which can cause huge problems should the owner decide to change strategy such as paid access.
4. Conclusion and recommendations
In this chapter are the end conclusion and recommendations described.
4.1. End conclusion
After answering the sub-questions in the previous chapters, we will attempt to answer the central research question. "How can an online environment be created that can facilitate a professional community of mariners which can be used for crowdsourcing with an ambition of exchanging nautical data amongst community members?" This central research question is not easily answered, because creating an environment is intertwined with several issues. Research indicated that the success of Wikipilot is dependent on the following three factors: content, members and a network. Additionally, there are several other factors that should be considered, these are selecting a community manager, crowdsourcing, social media, budget and existing online seafarers communities. Current situation After conducting research it was found that several mariner communities already operate on the Internet, examples are ActiveCaptain and TeamSurv. They have similar goals to Wikipilot but are lacking the partnerships to enhance their quality of content . Additionally, numerous communities exist on other social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. Communities on Facebook have completed a survey to distinguish their Internet behaviour and experience when on board. The research indicated mariners consider themselves fairly experienced in using the Internet. Research also showed that Internet usage has changed majorly in the past few years and that Facebook is the primarily used method of social interactions online. Most respondents do not currently share knowledge online but are willing to do so on one online platform. Environment It can be concluded that an environment can be created by combining the previously mentioned factors; content, users and a network. These factors can be combined by implementing a three layered structure. The three layered structure consists of a top layer called the Federation, a middle layer consisting of multiple communities and a bottom layer consisting of workgroups within the communities. When applying the three layered structure to Wikipilot, the Federation is the front page. As described before, the federation level provides the opportunity for each community on the community level to upload unique and high quality information that would be of interest to other communities . Content can stay within a community but content relevant to all communities should be posted on federation level. Communities on the community level are all linked together by the Federation. The purpose of these communities is knowledge exchange. Communities can be created when members have similarities like nationality, function or hobbies.
Within Wikipilot communities can be, for example a group of deckhands or a group of captains. These communities share and exchange information and have a common purpose or goal. Workgroups can exchange knowledge by either placing content on the Community level or on the Federation level. Content is placed on the Community level when the topic is just interesting for one specific community and on the Federation level when the topic is interesting for more than one community. It is about linking workgroups and communities, an example now. When workgroup A posts something on Federation level that is interesting for workgroup B and workgroup B replies to workgroup A that they liked the information and would like more information, a connection is made between workgroup A and workgroup B. In theory, Workgroup A and workgroup B could form a new community, community AB. Professional community of mariners Motivating users to participate in information exchange is essential. Furthermore, a clear distinction has to be made between the social and professional aspects of a community. Communities either focus on the social aspect, professional aspect or seek out a balance between both. The expert interviews indicated social aspects (content) are essential for drawing people to a community, professional communities are no exception. A professional community (network) should primarily focus on exchanging information for the purpose of a project, the social aspect as mentioned before is also involved in this. Examples are member profiles that function as an online CV. The expert interviews indicated that a balance between the level of professional and social content on Wikipilot is needed. This is especially important in Wikipilot's case because most survey respondents were very interested in the social part of the platform. However, sharing professional content (such as nautical data) can be seen as a Unique Selling Point (USP). Social activities have to draw people to the community as well as professional content. When on the community, members can be motivated to participate in the exchange of nautical data, this can be described as professional content. Social content can for example be personal profiles, pictures, forums or blogs. Professional content is content like maps, nautical charts or Google Maps changes. Several experts and survey respondents indicated that especially professional content has to be unique and very reliable. Unique content can be described as content that cannot be gained from other websites or content offered on Wikipilot that is better than on other websites. Community manager Rules and boundaries within the community have to guarantee professionalism in the community. Research suggests that a community manager is the best person for this task. The community manager is someone who is closely involved with the organization he represents and is the online contact for the organization. When occupying this position the community manager works to build, grow and manage the community around a certain cause or brand. When doing so the community manager leads the community but does not influence members of the community or the content placed on the community. It can be concluded that a community manager has several important tasks such as facilitation of community members, ensuring the quality of the content, evangelism when there are conflicts between community members and implementing technological innovations. Another essential but often overlooked task is monitoring activities
on the Internet as well as the Wikipilot activities. This should be done regularly in order to respond quickly and to reduce the amount of negative content. Content and members The expert interviews indicated that, especially in the start-up stage, a community manager is needed to post content. This content has to be unique and should motivate the first users to participate on the community and create content that has additional value. The uniqueness of the community has to be maintained as was stated by several interviewees and experts. It is essential that the content demonstrates the organization’s objectives and gives a clear purpose for participating on the community. Then content can be created by the first participants on the community. Networking As mentioned before the Workgroups within the Community are people that place content on the platform. An online community needs an initial workgroup in order to start functioning. The initial workgroup can be described as 'creators'. 'Creators' are essential to the community. The question arises 'where can creators be found'? Networking and brainstorming provide the opportunity to find the creators that are particularly interested in a professional online community. Social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn also have creators. The creators that are in existing communities can be linked in order to start a new online community. Creators are the people willing to put an effort on the platform. In the start-up stage a variety of creators is needed to produce unique content and to invite possible new members. Crowdsourcing The interviews and literature studies indicated that the chance of success for crowdsourcing is greatest when there is community interaction, a professional network of people, a rewarding system and a clearly formulated question or problem statement. When these four conditions are met, crowdsourcing can take place. Community members have to be willing to spend time on the community which can be stimulated by using a rewarding system. Recognition rewards such as ranking top members motivate members to participate on the community. Community interaction can be described as reacting to posts and showing community members that their posts are valuable. This is a form of recognition for community members. It can be concluded that crowdsourcing is not just asking questions to the public but also monitoring reactions on social media platforms such as Facebook. Budget The costs of building and managing a community will be substantial. Generally this aspect of community building is underestimated. Return Of Investments are often unclear but can be expressed in money and other benefits. Goals have to be set in order to make Return Of Investments measurable. Existing online seafarers communities Several existing online seafarers communities have been analysed as described before in this paper. The analysis showed that many of the before named online community platforms are not very efficient nor very useful. The social media communities have a strong dependency on their platform. All these online communities have a different purpose than Wikipilot and can be seen as possible business partners. This would result in Wikipilot taking the lead in their respective market.
Social media The essence of social media is interaction with an online audience. Interaction in terms of using social media for development purposes is sharing and receiving information. Creating and stimulating this level of interaction in order to attract new participants for the Wikipilot project requires three steps. First step, get a clear insight in where and who these participants are, and where their discussions are about. Step two, share information that is transparent about the Wikipilot activities. The last step, monitor the results of step one and two and use these as feedback to further develop the Wikipilot community. It’s crucial to not use social media as a main function on a professional online community but instead use existing online social media platforms as a way to promote the online community. These existing online social media platforms also can be used to further improve the online community by monitoring responses. A sub function could be using share buttons to increase promotion of the online community and to receive more user feedback. Answering the central research question "How can an online environment be created that can facilitate a professional community of mariners which can be used for crowdsourcing with an ambition of exchanging nautical data amongst community members?" To give a specific and clear answer to this research question it can be concluded that when starting an online professional community it is not immediately possible to emphasize sharing nautical data. To realize the goal of Wikipilot (sharing nautical data) a strong community is needed with support from the nautical industry. Research showed that social aspects like building and maintaining networks and relations are essential factors, with complements to professionalism. If these factors are met, to a certain extent, the professionalism of the community can be maintained.
Based on the end-conclusion the following is recommended for the Wikipilot project. The goal of our research was investigating: How an environment can be created that can facilitate a professional community of mariners which can be used for crowdsourcing with ambition of exchanging nautical data amongst community members. Since there is no online active Wikipilot community yet which can be used for crowdsourcing, it is recommended to use existing communities active on social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn. With the help of these existing communities, Wikipilot can create brand recognition, build relationships and use crowdsourcing (innovation) for building and developing the online community. We recommend Wikipilot to create accounts or so called fan pages on various social networks. These accounts should foster the ability to share information and current activities with third parties, with regards to building Wikipilot. By sharing this information Wikipilot allows third parties to participate and cooperate in building the online community. If there are questions that need answering, Wikipilot can contact the owners of existing communities and request the possibility to ask the community members questions. By doing so Wikipilot starts building a relationship with community members as well as the community owner. If the community owners allow the question on his community, community members can respond. The answers of the community members can
then be used (Crowdsourcing) to innovate the Wikipilot project and to tailor it to mariner’s needs. To summarize by increasing the attention for existing online communities on social networks, Wikipilot will have a bigger chance of success. Aspects like transparency, crowdsourcing, brand recognition, relations and partnerships have to be covered. Building relationships and partnerships cannot solemnly happen online. Since, company X wants to have their own customers participate in the online community, we recommend letting Van Dam shipping and Wagenborg participate on brainstorm sessions. During the brainstorm sessions the needs of potential users can be distinguished and new ideas can arise or be developed. Furthermore, we recommend including students of nautical schools in the project since they are the workers of the future and therefore the Wikipilot users of the future. Community manager It is of great importance to invest in a community manager in the startup stage and for further development of the Wikipilot community. The community manager is the eyes and ears of Wikipilot, online as well as offline. He is the essential link between the interests of the end-users and the interests of the stakeholders of the Wikipilot project. We recommend hiring an independent community manager, who has affinity with the nautical industry as well as expertise in online and offline communities. This should be someone who does not currently work at company X because often these persons are biased or influenced by things such as company culture, rules or colleagues.
The web interface
Figure 19. Webinterface
Research indicated that the preferences goes to building an online platform by using a three layer structure. A visual presentation of the web interface (see figure has been made of the structure and important elements that came forth during our research.
• Federation menu. The buttons on this menu give access to information • •
that is located on the highest level within the entire online community, also known as the federation level. Community menu. The buttons on this menu give the end user access to a diverse amount of communities and workgroups where he or she is a part of. (After logging in) Widgets create a clear overview of the categorized information. These widgets allow the end user to change them to his or her liking. This way the end users decides which information is visible where and when.
In short: the emphasis of the web interface is on visibility, usability and personalization. Final recommendation In our opinion, for the progression of the Wikipilot project, the next question has to be researched: “How can shape be created and content specified for the online platform?” In order to answer this question the following issues have to be studied: • Who are the potential end-users and partners, where are they active (online and offline) and what are their needs? Which potential end-users and partners ensure reliability and professionalism on the Wikipilot platform. Furthermore, the question; ‘how are reliable and professional end-users identified’ needs to be answered. How can Wikipilot acquire and maintain exclusivity? Wikipilot’s unique selling point has to be distinguished.
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