In the age of Facebook “Likes”, Twitter followers, and channel subscribers, lurkers get a bad wrap.
A lurker is a user who reads updates, watches videos, or shares a tweet without actually standing up and being counted as a member of the community. They do everything but “like” a page, “follow” a Twitter stream, or subscribe to a YouTube channel.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a boss or manager who sees the bigger picture of engagement over membership numbers, it will be an uncomfortable meeting when you’re asked to explain why there’s so few people actually “liking” the page.
Here are a few tips for explaining the value of a Facebook lurker to your boss or manager.
Where There Are Lurkers, There’s Interest. Try not to dismiss what it means to have lurkers in your community. If people are spending time on your Fan Page, that means they’re interested in the content being shared and what people have to say. People have their reasons for lurking. If the subject matter that the community discusses is controversial, or could be stigmatized, that will drive up the number of lurkers versus the number of members accounted for.
Emotional Connection Is The Selling Point. I turn to Martin Reed from Community Spark for a good explanation of this:
Visitors don’t care about the features your online community has to offer. They care about the benefits – particularly emotional benefits.
If you have a significant number of lurkers in your community, odds are good that they feel an emotional connection to your community. They care about the content and about what is being said, but they have concerns about what it might mean to be seen to be associated.
They’re Giving You Valuable Feedback. They care about what’s being said, the content that’s being shared, and the idea behind the community. But they haven’t joined because *something* isn’t right. You won’t get a more obvious sign than this. Think about what needs to change – maybe it’s the name, or the images used – and implement change. Try to convert some of those lurkers into proud members.