Lurkers - Are they a fact or a problem or both?

I’ve been thinking about lurkers for some reason. I’ll answer my own question and say I believe that they are not a problem to be fixed.

They can certainly be disheartening because we are all going for quality engagement, but that’s the way it goes.

I’m curious how others view lurkers and what do you do about them; anything, nothing, something in between? While my premise is that they don’t need to be fixed, I don’t think they should be ignored either.

What say you?

Hi Piper,

I would love to have fewer lurkers and more engaged members, but at least the lurkers are viewing the content right?! Hopefully one day they will feel inspired to join the conversation.

Helen

Lurkers are just fine :slight_smile:
They should be considered active members in the community, because they are probably consuming content and getting value from the community without participating.

I believe @richard_millington wrote something about this, but I can’t find it.

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Here’s the article by @richard_millington The Best Lurkers An Online Community Can Have I had it at my finger tips because I cite it all the time.

I view lurkers as integral members of the community. While they may never post in the community, they consider themselves a part of the community. Posting is not for everyone, but I’m always intrigued and delighted when different activities bring the lurkers out from the shadows such as events, surveys, and as volunteers for special projects, such as interviews for research, co-creation projects or quality improvement projects with the organization.

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Of course we would all like to have communities full of highly engaged members, but everyone has a different personality. And just like in face-to-face interactions, some people are more outspoken and some people engage more directly. It’s fine to have lurkers that gain value from your community. As far as measurement, though, you want to make sure your lurkers, just like your content creators, are active and getting value out of the content that is shared.

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@helen.chaplin & @jblutstein - Welcome to Feverbee!

@jblutstein - Do you have ideas on how to measure whether (or how) your lurkers are getting value?

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Pulse surveys might be a good way to find out some of this information. Unless you are asking them directly, it’s obviously hard to get more info. But, you can make some assumptions about them getting value. If they are repeat visitors, you can assume they are getting something out of your community. Active lurkers that return to the community regularly are obviously getting value, otherwise, they wouldn’t continue to visit.

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Your reaction to lurkers should be based on what the key mission of your community is…if you’re a community of practice, hoping to build up lots of expert peer to peer advice and stories, you may want to spend a little bit of time trying to get lurkers to feel comfortable sharing (because the value of your community relies on a high percentage of expert participation).

If your community is for tech support, lurkers may just be customers who are finding answers without having to post. It’s good to offer intermediate ways of participating that don’t require a ton of mental load, like reactions or responses to quick multiple choice surveys. That can be a gateway to real posting (if that’s what you are looking for).

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