Social -vs- Marketplace Motivation

by Shannon Paul on September 16, 2008


It’s nice to make money, but it’s better to be nice.

With so much talk about ROI and investment and money, etc. you would think that’s all that human beings care about. As highly developed as our brains might be, most proof seems to indicate that we are highly illogical creatures.

One of the broader topics discussed at a workshop I attended this morning at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York City by Lois Kelly and Francois Gossieaux from Beeline Labs was social – vs- marketplace motivation.

Side note: Beeline Labs also released a study this year about online communities called the Tribalization of Business, which is a great resource. I plan to return to that in a later, more detailed post.

Lois and Francois cited studies that measured helpfulness in individuals when asked to help with a menial task like asking a stranger to help move something a heavy piece of furniture. Surprisingly, respondents put forth more effort longer when they were doing it as a favor to the other person or when offered a gift than they did when they were told the value of the gift or offered a small sum of money.

The reason being is that people either make decisions from a social or a marketplace framework. This is why some of the best content out there is user (can we think of a better word for this?) generated. User-generated content is socially motivated.

One of the most important takeaways from this fact of human nature they say, however, happens to be that there is no switch. Once a person is engaged in a social framework, it’s next to impossible to get them to switch to a marketplace framework and vice versa.

How does this information help or hinder the cultivation of online communities? As someone who has just begun to create content out of a kind of social framework, will I ever be able to move that activity into the marketplace? Will others? How will managers operating from a marketplace framework engage with customers who are operating from a social framework?

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September 25, 2008 Francois Gossieaux

Hi Shannon — thanks for the post. I am becoming a bigger believer in that social decision-making framework every day. I also expanded on how that makes work-teams very different from communities on my blog:
Sorry for the delay in responding to your post.
– Francois


September 30, 2008 shannonpaul

@Francois – Thanks so much for the response — I still plan to dive a little deeper into the study you presented during the Web 2.0 Expo. I’ll be sure to take a look at the information on work-teams while I’m there. Thanks again!


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