How to Get Lurkers to Engage

3 Lurker Corollaries

President Richard Nixon had it right when he gave lurkers a positive political spin as The Great Silent Majority.  While most people don’t want take an action for a wide range of reasons, marketers, unlike Nixon, want lurkers to engage whether it’s with their website, content marketing or social media initiatives. (Here are 21 reasons people lurk.)

The reality is that audience activity tends to follow this breakout.

  • Lurkers (90% of your audience). This great silent majority is the bulk of your audience who spend time with your content.
  • Contributors (9% of your audience). This group participates in a small way such as comment, vote, or fill out a profile with limited if any risk.
  • Creators (1% of your audience). These highly engaged, super users are fans who create original content.

3 Lurker corollaries and related marketing implications

Before you dive into creating a plan to engage lurkers, consider these three lurker corollaries.

  1. Lurking may be platform specific. This means that people who lurk on one platform, may not lurk on other platforms. Implication: Offer your content across a variety of media to engage each platform’s creator segment.
  2. While the ratio of lurkers remains constant, specific lurkers change over time. Some portion of your active creators for a wide range of reasons will become less active on your site, while others will increase their participation. Implication: Continue to cultivate new users and creators in your audience since it’s often difficult to predict who will leave and when they’ll do so as well as who will become your next super users.
  3. Assess absolute size of your active community. A very small percentage of a large number can still yield high activity. One percent of a million members is 10,000 people. Implication: Keep building your audience and reach to maximize the number of active members.

5 Ways to get lurkers to engage

As with any marketing plan, start by determining your overall goals that are in–line with your business objectives, develop strategies to achieve those goals, create related tactics that are the specific marketing actions and select associated metrics. The form of engagement should relate to your goals and metrics. Here are five key ways to get lurkers to engage.

  1. Tell lurkers what you want them to do. Make sure your content clearly outlines the actions you want taken. Get an outsider to check your work because you may be so focused that you don’t see what’s missing. Include a specific and relevant call-to-action. Further, to ensure that you can measure the results, include a related promotion code.
  2. Lead the way. Encourage readers to take action by simplifying the process. Focus them on the requisite steps. If necessary, include an example.
  3. Remove lurker risk. Old-fashioned direct marketers had it right when they offered their money-back guarantee. Can you remove risk for your lurkers? Risks aren’t limited to financial commitments. For example, participants may be reticent to share their writing or personal perspective on social media venues.
  4. Change your story. If you keep pounding the same concept and it’s not working try another alternative, as your presentation and/or story may be turning prospects off. People remember stories so that they can be useful to others. What’s important to your audience, how can you appeal to their needs? Especially with social media, it’s not about you. It’s about them.
  5. Make lurkers an offer they can’t refuse. Give lurkers a reason to raise their hands whether it’s a special promotion, a discount or a give away, either real or virtual. Consider that recognizing your participants is another form of reward.

While most people prefer to lurk, they can be coaxed into action. It’s important that your marketing is relevant and leads them to the action you want them to take.

What challenges have you had with lurkers and what have you done to get them to act? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Photo credit: Manu_H via Flickr

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