Imagine working on a social media post you just KNOW is going to be valuable for both you and your followers. You hit the publish button and wait patiently. And then: 153 views but no likes, comments, or shares.
I know social media isn’t solely a numbers game, but it’s still discouraging. But three days later someone suddenly approaches you: “Hey, thank you for that previous post. That really resonated with me! The things you’re doing are really inspiring.”
Bang. That was the comment you, a passionate creator, needed to hear. But why are you hearing it only now? Well, that’s because you’ve been talking to a lurker. They might be your biggest fans, they simply might not be your most vocal ones.
What are lurkers and why do they lurk?
Many sources categorize social media usage into three types of behaviours. 90% of social media users are lurkers, 9% are regular contributors (they share and comment), and 1% consists of active creators (you, of course).
Lurkers are people who just use the internet to consume content. So they don’t really show themselves online. They sparingly give likes, don’t comment that often, and you should forget about them sharing your post on their own social media page.
We lurk for multiple reasons. I used to be a lurker too. Even today, there are moments where I rather remain silent.
You see, not everyone wants to create and share online content. It’s a time-consuming process (why even write a blog when you could listen to a cool podcast?) and for some it might be scary to share their voice.
When I used to be a 100% lurker, I often wanted to share something but then felt like: “Oh no but my contribution doesn’t matter, maybe I’d say something wrong, maybe I’m making a huge mistake and get called out for it.”
And sometimes, people just don’t feel like creating and engaging. It just isn’t their thing. They have other things to do.
But regardless of the reasons why they don’t actively participate online, they still passively engage with your content: your posts, blogs, and e-mails attract the eyeballs of these people. And you might not be aware of it, but you’re adding a lot of value to their lives.
An event that made me write this blog.
Back in 2021, I wrote this blog to remind myself of the value I share. I was unemployed back then, writing tons of newsletters and blog posts. Often, I’d get minimal response, and I’d ask myself if the things I was doing were right.
Then, on a random Saturday, I met up with someone who was a Marketer, too. We had connected on Linkedin. She told me she loved reading my LinkedIn posts and the value I share in these posts.
I didn’t know that, because back then, she didn’t engage a lot with my posts. I asked her why, and she answered that she just didn’t feel like being active on LinkedIn.
Two years later, I can recall tons of conversations where people, who didn’t engage with my posts, blogs, and Tweets, told me they found my content really inspiring.
- I really liked the travel blog you shared
- I am approaching you because of your newsletters and I was wondering if we could have an interview for a potential job opportunity
- I read the blogs you wrote during the holidays, they were really cool.
And also in a professional context, you might be dealing with lurkers who are your perfect customers:
- Those who clicked on your ad, didn’t disclose data (you didn’t get a lead), but bought a product anyway.
- Those who don’t directly engage with you but talk about your brand with their family
- A while ago, some friends told me that they were close to buying products of the company I was working for at that time. I was in charge of the Content Marketing Strategy, and I did see many people engage with my content online, but I didn’t see any engagement from the friends I talked with.
Keep in mind:
Yes, when you look at statistics, lurkers don’t tell you a lot (apart from a low engagement rate). Lurkers are part of what we call dark social: web traffic that is incredibly difficult to track and analyze.
And yet, these lurkers will always follow you, read your content, and save your ideas. Your content might help them in various ways, without you even knowing it.
Some of these lurkers might slowly become your most vocal fans, loyal customers, or the ones who give you your next opportunity. You just don’t know it because you can’t track it.
So what do you, a vocal creator need to do? Keep publishing, because you know you’re adding value. And in the end, some lurkers will repay you the favour.
Let’s stop lurking and start connecting!
I’m Jelle Postma, a curious and internationally-oriented Marketer from the Netherlands. I’m active on LinkedIn and Twitter, where I learn, share, and discuss about Marketing, Creativity, and personal development.