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Audience Engagement and Community Strength: Intangible Assets Part III

This is Part III of the blog series "Stop Throwing Away your ICT4D Investments: Recognizing Intangible Assets"

Part I: Overview

Part II: Brand and Reputation

Audience Engagement and Community Strength

This asset relates to how habituated the core audience is with participating in community-building and how strong the community is. This asset is one of the most important intangibles for Knowledge Management and social media projects, since they rely directly on community contributions and management for content creation and synthesis.

However, technology products need users too, and the more active the community around a product (especially an open source product), the healthier the product will be.

Like reputation, audience engagement and community strength directly leads to increased usage.

Examples of positive engagement include:

Ways to undermine this asset

Communities are a very fragile thing, and building audience engagement is tough. Participation inequality in online communities is well known. "In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action." Jakob Nielson

When a project has an active user community, it is a highly valuable asset that may be impossible to recreate. Ways to undermine this asset include:


The valuation of this asset relates to the value of contributors, especially from developing countries and from professions/demographics being targeted by the ICT4D project.

The other source of input from these contributors is usually limited to focus groups (expensive and small scale), surveys (limited in scope), and personal experiences of project staff who have worked overseas.

With audience engagement and strong communities, the ability for a project to be more responsive—and even partially directed by the needs of the audience—increases greatly.

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