Cardinal Path’s response to COVID-19 Cardinal Path is sharing all we know to help marketers during COVID-19.  Learn more.

The week before last (sorry folks, long weekend) I started talking about online communities, and a recent report I read on their impact on business. One of my favorite observations within the report was that online communities are like a performance, with owners interacting with small groups to produce content for the rest of the readers. They called this small group Most Frequent Contributors (MFC’s).

Why you should care

I noted in my last post that online communities tend to adhere to the 90:10 principle. Roughly 10% of users are MFC’s, with 1% of those providing the bulk of content. However, passive members of a community are still members, and while they may not be the users engaging with you, they are still engaged.

If 10% of community members produce the lions share of content, you have an audience engaged in active observation of those 10%. As Rubicon reports, over 60% of young people (and around 40% of people over 40) admit to being strongly influenced by online information, making that 10% a very juicy user group. What might once have been called a ‘core audience’—back before we stopped referring to web users as audiences.

Who are the MFC’s?

They are obviously going to vary across different subjects and communities, and as I noted earlier the MFC’s of one topic or community may be lurkers in others, but Rubicon recognizes a few generalities that MFC’s appear to fit:

    1. “Half the web’s most frequent contributors are under age 22.”

      Just as young people tend to be more influenced by online information, so too are they the primary creators of it. Marketing efforts focused towards MFC’s need to keep in mind that there is a good chance that their audience is going to be younger than average.



  • “MFC’s are more sophisticated technically than other web users.”

    This shouldn’t be a surprise. Younger people tend to adapt to technology at an earlier stage, meaning that they are frequently more adept with current technology. I should note, however, that Rubicon is measuring this based upon what their set of users say about themselves, meaning that in truth the quote should read “MFC’s believe that they are more sophisticated technically than other web users.”




  • “MFC’s are more ethnically diverse”

    MFC’s on average are more likely to be ethnically diverse. With younger users in other cultures being more inclined to go online, and younger users being more inclined towards contribution, a greater proportion of MFC’s per-overall user may just be a reflection of the amount of people online in North America.




  • “Are more likely to be single”

    There is a joke to be made here. I am not going to make it.




  • 40% “are students” and are “more likely than other web users to work in the technology, arts, entertainment, and communication industries”

    Again this should not be particularly surprising. Creative people tend to work in creative industry, and students tend to contribute to the over all discourse.


Why they’re so great…

The study notes one last thing which I think is important to keep in mind when dealing with MFC’s: most users under 18 are more willing to approve a connection to some one that they have not heard of, while less than 20% of people over age 50 will do the same. These are not just performers entertaining an audience; these are a group who actively want to reach out to new people and new opportunities. Reach out to them, engage them, and give them an opportunity to do something new.