No, the key factor concerns an inability to assess correctly or execute exactly what members want out of their community participation.
And people do want something. Trust me, it's not all peace, love, brand addiction and likability. Although that might keep them happy to participate for a few weeks, maybe a month without it appearing in front of them, they do see community participation as a reciprocal relationship.
And having too few incentives for participation is a recipe for building a ghost town of community. Tapping too many motivations in one platform and you get a bouillabaisse of confusion.
We've listed the 25 core motivations for rallying around a community in the above chart and an example of an incentive or online piece of functionality that addresses each motivation.
They end up being grouped into three very different camps of motivation:
Intrinsic - this motivation is based on the feeling that you've joined something you identify or affiliate with and can get behind - by and large, brands and companies, in and of themselves, are not big enough or attractive enough to create this level of engagement - a chronic mistake companies make is overstating their importance in people's lives - investing in ideas bigger than the brand itself is a tenet of healthy sponsored, brand communities
Extrinsic - this motivation addresses the quality of your standing and public profile in front of your peers improving by participating actively - highlighting contributions, featuring profiles and establishing VIP tiering or leaderboards are all powerful incentives for building personal reputation as part of community participation, and although we don't like to admit it - upper case Ego ("I'm the best") and lower case ego ("I'm recognized for my worth") are basic human instincts that can and should be harnessed
Explicit - this type of motivation is tangible and explicit and answers the "what's in it for me" question - perhaps it's merely access to information or maybe there needs to be a physical reward but community builders often under-estimate the amount of "dollars and cents or special access content" involved in creating community participation beyond the call of duty, and very occasionally they over-invest in this area (at the expense of others) leading to a dependence on "stuff" that can't be maintained as community grows
So the next time, a boutique technology company tries to sell you a 2.0 platform or a communications agency sells you on a sexy looking flash-based site for 6 digits - ask yourself the fundamental question - "why the hell would I sign up for this community in the first place?". The answer could be the most important driver to your community's success or failure.