Why We Lurk

21 Reasons People Don’t Contribute on Social Media

Participation on most social media sites falls into the following categories: 90% of people lurk, 9% of people comment and 1% of people create content. Recent Forrester research reinforces this ratio.

While this great silent majority drives unique visitors and pageviews, many marketers want their audience to take the next step. To this end, it’s useful to understand why people lurk rather than actively participate on social media and other forms of marketing. Here are 21 reasons readers don’t act.

  1. Content is complete. As a result, readers don’t have anything to add to the conversation.
  2. It’s already been said. Someone else made the point first and better.
  3. No call-to-action (CTA). You’ve primed your audience but you haven’t asked them to do anything. Prospects need to be directed. Subtle hinting doesn’t work in marketing.
  4. WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) What’s the benefit for the user taking an action? Is it clear to the reader?
  5. They need help. Do you have a Help button, an FAQ section, chat, email or live customer service available for prospects that are confused and/or can’t use your system?
  6. No one wants to be first. An empty comment section or zero tweets can be a turnoff. By contrast, a high number of tweets, shares or comments will help you to attract more of the same.
  7. No one appears to be home. Is the content out of date? Does the format seem old fashioned? Bear in mind consumers are savvy about how your site or platform compares to your competitors and others
  8. Don’t make me think. The questions make the reader think so they put off answering.
  9. Action is too complex. Think about where the reader is when you want him to act. Do you want him to tweet an article with a simple click or do you want him to contribute a well thought out comment to your blog?
  10. Action requires too much work. This can encompass a variety of factors such as the form is too long.
  11. Action requires too much data. Are you asking readers for more personal information than they deem reasonable?
  12. Only provide one option. People like to have a choice in what they do.
  13. Too many options. By contrast, too many alternatives can result in inactivity since the reader needs to think too much about what to do. As a result, no decision is made.
  14. Time crunched. Your reader only has time to consume your content, often between other activities, and doesn’t have the time to respond.
  15. System doesn’t work. User inputs required information but the system doesn’t process it.
  16. Action is device specific. Can your audience respond via multiple devices including a computer, iPad, smartphone, etc.?
  17. Respondent wants to remain anonymous. Most forms require name and email.
  18. Readers are embarrassed about their writing and/or language skills. This is particularly important for forums and blog comments. No one wants to look stupid.
  19. Reader is apathetic. As a result, you can’t get him to do anything.
  20. Think they’ll be spammed. Respondents would like more information but believe that the company will keep sending them more promotional materials they don’t want.
  21. Money is involved, either directly or in the future. Reader is not ready to commit to a purchase.

As you can see, there are a variety of reasons that the bulk of your visitors don’t take the next step on your social media platform or other form of marketing.  To increase interactions, create effective calls-to-action that get your audience to overcome their inertia.

While you can’t eliminate all of these issues, you can reduce the barriers to action. It’s important to consider the factors that are most important to get your prospects to the next phase. Realize that what works may not be consistent across businesses.

If you have any other suggestions to add to this list, please include them in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Tip of my hat to the members of the #SMChat for inspiring me to think about why people lurk and how to rouse them to action.

Photo credit:  Faithful Chant via Flickr

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