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      Engaging Lurkers in Online Communities: Is There a Right Way?

      Oct 20, 2021

      4 minute read

      Lurkers are a part of every community.

      Ever wondered how your brand has so many followers in your community, yet only a handful of them interact with you or participate?

      These members who watch from the sidelines are known as ‘community lurkers’ and can be the potential reason behind those low engagement numbers.

      For an online community to thrive, it is key to keep the members engaged. So how do you ensure that the lurkers are adding value to your community, and if not, what should you do to nudge them to participate?

      Let’s find out!

      What are Community Lurkers and Why Do they Lurk?

      Lurkers can be defined as the silent members of online communities. They are not active participants and simply observe all ongoing community activities.

      Research suggests that 90% of community members are lurkers who read or observe community content, but don’t contribute. According to this stat, it is safe to say that only around 10% of your total community following engages with you on a regular basis. Quite a discouraging benchmark, isn’t it?

      There are a number of reasons for community members to lurk. Some factors are stated below:

      • The community members are unaware of the action to perform from the content.
      • Members are not motivated to contribute and do not feel the need to do so.
      • They are new to your community and are getting accustomed to how the community works.
      • Members engage in different patterns depending on their preference and type of community.
      • Members are stopped by social fear.

      As a community manager, maintaining ongoing community engagement is your first and foremost priority. Thus, identifying what areas are stopping them from contributing to the community is important.

      The ‘How’ of Engaging With Your Community Lurkers

      Lurkers are not people who ignore your content. They are people who see what you’re posting but don’t take any action. This doesn’t mean that they dislike the content that you’re producing, they just don’t feel the need to engage.

      Thus, it is of utmost importance to keep community lurkers in mind while crafting your content strategy. Why, you ask? This is because lurkers are still an integral part of your community as they show up to consume your content.
      Let’s take a look at some tips that you can use to get your community lurkers to actively participate in the community.

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      1. Identify your target audience: People, in general, love it when they get the feeling of being heard. This is why it is essential to respond to the queries, requests, suggestions, and more than your community members post. When you constantly engage with your users, lurkers do notice. Gradually, they feel more comfortable getting involved in the community.

      2. Conduct giveaways and gamify: Playing by the trend is something that you can do to garner the attention of your community lurkers. Who doesn’t love some free goodies? You can conduct giveaways, which act as a valuable incentive for your lurkers to participate in your community activities and conversations. These can be in the form of free pieces of training, access to higher-ups, training credits, etc. Gamification is also a great way to encourage lurker participation. You can provide badges to your participants which can act as a motivating factor for your community lurkers to start participating in the community.

      3. Make lurkers feel welcomed: Many times, lurkers can engage with you when they’re asked to. Ensure that you identify them by observing their community activity and habits so that you can invite them to introduce themselves to fellow community members. You can also get your lurkers to engage in your community by hosting dedicated events for them. Here’s an example of how SpoilerTV invited their lurkers to participate by hosting the ‘Stop Lurking Day’.

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      4. Use precise CTAs: It is easier for your community members to simply click on the CTA button rather than commenting. Therefore, community lurkers would also feel comfortable in simply clicking on a button rather than having to explain.

      5. Auto-enroll to community newsletter: It’s a fact that you will have to wait for ages to get your users to sign up to receive newsletters and digests. Cut to the chase by auto-enrolling all-new community members. It can certainly get annoying, but they always have the option to opt-out. This way, you get access to more data and you might even win the attention of some lurkers, thus, converting them from lurkers to posters.

      The Don’ts of Community Lurkers

      Let’s debunk some myths about community lurkers.

      #Myth 1: Lurkers don’t receive any value from the content being posted in the community

      Just because lurkers don’t post frequently doesn’t mean they’re not receiving any value from the content that you update in the community. If they’re coming back to the community, it signifies that they find your community content relevant and helpful. Thus, you should not assume that they’re not fit to be in your community.

      #Myth 2: Disregard lurker participation in community feedback

      You might feel tempted to overlook the lurkers when you’re asking for community feedback. Well, rethink that because lurkers always keep an eye on what’s going on in the community. Sure, your community MVPs are goldmines of constructive feedback. But you can also obtain some great insights from lurkers if you engage with them and know more about why they refrain from participating and engaging in the community.

      #Myth 3: It is necessary to invest maximum time in engaging with the lurkers

      Most community managers divert their attention towards transitioning lurkers into posters while ignoring the active community members. So, don’t spend much time converting lurkers into posters. Ensure that you respond to your active users and guide them to get the help that they want. Align your content strategy in such a way that both lurkers and active members benefit simultaneously.

      For members to get the true value from your community, they should be able to participate in the community as and when they like. Create such an atmosphere for your community members, both active and lurkers, so that they feel comfortable in engaging and making your community successful.

      Wish to build robust online communities and boost business value? Let’s talk!

      Team Grazitti has extensive experience in building multidimensional online communities that empower you to take your business to the next level. To know more about our CMaaS expertise, drop us a line at info@grazitti.com and we’ll take it from there.

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