Lurker Alert: The Art of Audience, Student and Mastermind Group Engagement

Posted by on Aug 20 2019

Who are those people who attend your mastermind group or class but never talk (or who friend you on Facebook or Twitter, but never respond)? And how do you get them talking?

Back in the mid-90s when I first went online via CompuServe (remember those days??), we noticed that for every 10 people looking at the message forum, one person was interacting and the other 9 were logging on and reading the message threads, but never interacting. Back then, we called them “lurkers” — people who didn’t participate actively in discussions, and this 10:1 lurker ratio was commonplace back then.

Fast forward 25 years, and we find that Lurker Ratio of 10:1 still exists – in online message forums, in my classes and webinars, in mastermind groups, and any other place where groups of people congregate offline and online.

In some places, especially Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online social media forums, the lurker ratio is closer to 100:1 — for every 1 person who participates, there are 100 people just reading and absorbing the conversation.

Why?

There are a number of reasons why people don’t comment on Facebook or blogs:

  • too busy
  • nothing to add
  • feeling shy
  • hard to use your technology

That’s why they use the “Like” button on social media: if they don’t want to leave a comment but want to let you know that they’re interested, they click it.

Jakob Nielsen calls it Participation Inequality. I see it most often with “virtual” groups of people who meet online or through video conference meetings.

Want to learn how to start a mastermind group? Click here to get my free video tutorial on how to start a mastermind group of your own.

But here is what I think is most important:

We all have something to add to a conversation — our feelings, our experiences, our knowledge, our questions. What comes from within counts for a lot with me. I love when people leave comments on my blog, interact in my classes, or join the discussion in a mastermind group meeting.

And let’s face it: the whole point of a mastermind group is to brainstorm together, right? Conversation brings immense value.

In your business, you want to build connections and relationships with your customers and your entire audience. Being aware of the lurker ratio when you’re using social media for marketing — as well as in your classes, groups and online message forums — will help you gauge the quality of your connections and relationships.

For all types of classes and mastermind groups, here are some guidelines:

  1. In live, in-person classes and mastermind groups, the lurker ratio is much better. There’s something about being face-to-face in a sharing environment (especially with a good teacher or mastermind group Facilitator) that brings people out of their shells and encourages them to participate. In my live classes and groups, I’d say that for every 100 people who attend, 30 will be lurkers. 10:7 isn’t a bad ratio!
  2. The larger the group, the larger the lurker ratio. Social psychologists call this the social loafing phenomenon.
  3. The longer the event, class or program, the lower the lurker ratio. Sometimes it takes while to get people warmed up. They might not begin to participate actively in the discussions until they get a feel for the others in the meeting.
  4. If you want high participation in your classes and mastermind groups, you have to build in interaction into your plan. Don’t wing it: plan it. Design discussion-starter questions that get the group talking within the first five minutes of every meeting.
  5. Pay attention to those who don’t ask questions or make comments. Call on them by name, or say, “Let’s hear from someone who hasn’t commented yet.”
  6. If your class or mastermind group includes an online message forum, set some rules. For instance, in some of my classes I’ve set this rule: each week all students must post one new message and reply to two messages that someone else has posted.

For social media engagement:

  1. Studies show that you get 65% more engagement if you post before noon, as compared to afternoons and evenings. My experience confirms this with my audience: they’re much more active in the morning on social media. Test it to see if it’s true with your audience, too.
  2. Don’t just post thoughts, ask questions, too. Instead of simply saying, “Hard work yields results,” consider adding a question to that statement, like, “Do you find this to be true for yourself?” Invite responses and comments.
  3. Comment on other people’s posts. It’s a two-way street. If all you do is post your own articles and thoughts, but never respond to someone else’s blog posts and Facebook posts, why should they communicate with you? It’s all about building relationships.
  4. Engagement isn’t just commenting. Make sure you put links in your blog posts to other posts that are related. When someone reads a blog post and clicks on a link, that’s engagement, too.
  5. Respond back. When someone responds to your blog post or social media post, respond back and acknowledge it. They need to know you heard them.
  6. Let them see you. Too many small business owners hide behind their content. They post links to articles on Facebook and Twitter, but they never share any of their own story. I don’t mean those “I used to live in a box but now I live in a mansion” stories…I mean everyday stories about what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, what you’re reading or watching, and even what you’re eating. Give them a window into your personal life. Yes, you can keep most of your personal life as private as you like — but telling them you made Chickpea Burgers for lunch isn’t an invasion of privacy, it just plain fun! 🙂

If your lurker ratio is still 100:1, take heart — it means that for every one person who responds to your post, 100 are reading what you write!

These are just a few of the tips to get people to join the discussion. I’m sure you have your favorite ways of getting your audience involved, yes? I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts!

   

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Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Start and Run a Mastermind Group

Repeat After Me: Competition Is Good

Posted by on Aug 12 2019

No! No! No!

I got an email from a student the other day who said he wasn’t going to launch his class because he found out that a competitor had a similar new class.

Do not give up on your dream just because someone else has a twin idea.

It happens all the time!

There’s even a word for it: Zeitgeist. It means that the culture and climate of the times often produce ideas that are in alignment with each other.

I often see two or three products come on the market at the exact same time that eerily resembles each other. No one “stole” the idea from the others; it was just the right idea and the right time — for more than one person.

There is abundance all around us. You will draw the right students to your class not just because of what you teach, but who the teacher is (that’s you!). Every teacher designs a unique class based on the way they perceive the topic, and their own knowledge and experience. People will attend your class because you’ve designed it with them in mind.

   

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Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Marketing

Redesign: What Will Make Your Clients Really Angry?

Posted by on Aug 01 2019

Joyce was one of my “reinvent your business” clients who likes to take things to the edge, fall off the edge, and either soar or splat.

We were discussing all the different aspects of her business model that she could reinvent: her target audience, her product/service offerings, her delivery model, her marketing model, etc.

We kept focusing our thoughts on “What does the client want?”

Hey, it’s a great question — but it was limiting the discussion.

So I asked Joyce, “What could you do that would make your clients really, really angry?” She is a business consultant to medium-sized businesses, and they have certain expectations of her even if she is a solo entrepreneur.

Asking this odd question can generate great ideas.  Here are some of Joyce’s answers about what would make her clients truly angry:

  1. Double our prices
  2. Reduce our quality
  3. Take a longer time to deliver our services
  4. Take a week to answer emails and phone calls
  5. Show up at their office in a clown suit (or with clown-like answers)

By asking this question, Joyce was able to see which pieces of her business model were most important to her customers — and which were not:

  • Nowhere did she mention how she delivered her products and services. In the past, she had always delivered her services one-on-one with the clietn in the client’s office.
  • Nowhere did she mention who delivered her products and services. Joyce had always delivered her services herself. Now she realized that she could hire subcontractors to deliver some of the services, which would allow her to leverage her time and expand her business.

These were two great starting places to consider redesigning in her business model.

Bingo! Asking this outrageous question opened her eyes to places where she could transform her business.

Question For You: If you were to ask yourself this outrageous question, what answers would come up for you? Share your comments here!

   

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Category: Rethinking Your Business
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9 Tips for Summer Business Cleanup and Planning

Posted by on Jun 28 2019

Many businesses slow down in July and August, so summertime is a great time to get reorganized for autumn. September always reminds me of “back to school season,” the beginning of a new year.

While there are always plenty of tasks for organizing your office, remember to focus on your upcoming marketing campaigns and projects so that you don’t get that overwhelmed feeling come September and October.

Here are nine great tips for getting ready for September’s busy season this summer.

  1. Enter all revenue and expenses into your record-keeping system. If you don’t have a record-keeping system for your business finances, create one. You can use Quick Books or Quicken Home & Business to keep your records in tip-top shape, and get great reports to measure your financial success and the growth of your business.
  2. Reconcile your bank account records with bank statements. I don’t know anyone who really loves to reconcile bank statements, but as a business owner you have a responsibility to know where every penny enters and exits your business. Just the other day, while reconciling my bank statements, I noticed a $745 deposit that never showed up in my business checking account!
  3. Estimate your tax payment for the current year; typically you’ll have one more estimated tax payment to make in autumn and a final one for this year that’s due in early January of next year. Have a plan for saving money towards your tax payments so that you’re not caught short when the tax man cometh.
  4. Clean out old paper files, emails, and books you never read. Now’s the time to do a clean sweep of your office! You’ll feel so much better without the clutter.
  5. Speaking of books: take a look at your bookshelf and make a note of which books you’d like to read by the end of the year. You can choose them based on a topic you’re interested in studying, or just select them intuitively. If you’ve been wanting to purchase some new books, now’s the time to visit the bookstore or Amazon.com and browse their selection. And don’t forget your local library: why pay for a book that you just want to scan but don’t want to own?
  6. Compare your financial and other goals to your current reality. Are you moving towards your goals? What tasks do you have to do to make sure you complete the goals you’ve set in the time frame you’ve chosen? Make a task list and assign deadlines to even the smallest task, so that you’ll be on target for the year. And why not start day dreaming about your goals and projects for next year?
  7. Organize your desk. Put things that you need often in a logical place and things that you rarely use in a drawer or cabinet.
  8. Figure out a system for keeping track of your To Do list. The biggest anxiety producer that people face is having to keep all their tasks in their head.
  9. Plan next year’s vacation! Hey, why not??
   

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Think Small and Accomplish Great Things

Posted by on Jun 18 2019

Mary was ready to create huge changes in her consulting business. How exciting, having a big dream!

She had a million ideas and a solid, well-planned task lists to back up the big plan.

Except there was one small problem – Mary’s dream was dying on the vine. By thinking big she was overwhelming herself. She was paralyzed.

Mary asked me, “How do you accomplish all the things you do? Do you have some mysterious time management system that I need to know about?”

Nope. No time management system. No crystal ball. No magic wand. Just one mantra: Think Big and Think Small.

Thinking Big is about dreaming and strategic design; it answers the questions, “What do I want?” and “Why do I want it now?”

Thinking Small is about tactical planning; it answers the question, “How do I accomplish it?”

Great things are accomplished through thinking in small steps.

Anyone who has tried to stop smoking or lose weight knows you do it one day (one hour, one moment) at a time. Anyone who has attempted to do a 10-mile hike knows it’s simply a case of one foot in front of the other.

People with big business dreams often forget these well-known truths about how to tackle big things.

Mary became frustrated because things weren’t moving fast enough. She was ready to give up her dream because there was too much to do and she didn’t know which task to do first.

When she started a task, she abandoned it if it took longer — or was more complicated — than she thought it should be.

Thinking small means I’m a failure.

We’re afraid that thinking small and taking small steps forward because we equate it with being small and having a small life.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If you want the big, juicy, vibrant life you desire, you have to break it down into doable steps.

No matter how much you try, you can only really do one thing at a time.

You may think that multitasking makes you more productive, but studies show that multi-tasking actually reduces your ability to accomplish tasks. It slows you down.

Instead of trying to do five tasks simultaneously, I’m advocating this approach: put exquisite, conscious effort into one task at a time, complete it, and move on to the next.

How do you know which small step to take first?

You have been gifted with four pillars of life the day you were born: your intellect, your emotions, your intuition, and other human beings.

Start by asking yourself, “What one small thing can I do, right now, that will move me towards my big goal?”

Don’t give up if the answer doesn’t come to you immediately; have patience and allow the answer to bubble up to the surface. Trust your mind and your heart. Write down the tasks or draw them on a piece of paper and ask yourself, “Does this feel right?” Write in pencil so that you can re-arrange it until it truly feels right to you.

If the answer still doesn’t come to you, ask other people for help.

Talk about your goals and plans with colleagues and friends. Talk to supportive people who fully understand your big dream and can help you to look at the small tasks you must do to accomplish the goal.

Then do one small task at a time.

I’m encouraging you to do both: Dream Big, Think Small, and you will succeed.

   

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning
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Courage, and the Self-Employed

Posted by on Jun 10 2019

Each week, I hear people telling me they want to build their small business, but they don’t (or can’t) move forward on their dreams because they’re afraid.

There are so many things to be afraid of when you’re self-employed: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of illness, fear of lawsuits. No money, no time, no skills, no help, no support.

Being a small business owner takes a particular type of courage

You have to be willing to take action with no guarantees of success.

You have to be willing to put all your heart and soul into your enterprise, and you have to be willing to face and overcome the roadblocks that get in your way.

You have to be willing to dream big dreams — and have the guts to learn new things that you never knew how to do before.

On top of all that, you need the type of courage that shouts, “I must do this or I won’t have lived my life purpose!”

It takes strength, focus, and responsibility to succeed or fail on your own merits, and to be willing to ask for help or education when you need it.

Do you have it?

  • Do you have the courage to face your fears and keep walking towards your dream anyway?
  • Do you have the strength and dignity to act consistently and responsibly towards your business growth, on a daily basis, without whimpering in self-defeating behaviors and excuses?
  • Do you have the guts to set a big goal, create reasonable action plans that stretch and challenge you, and move forward on those tasks knowing that you have no guarantee of success?

Every business owner feels fear at one time or another

The next time you hear yourself saying, “I’m afraid,” reply with a knowing smile and say to yourself, “Join the crowd.”

Then, summon up that well of courage and take responsibility to create the life and business you’ve dreamed of.

Because, if you don’t have that type of courage, you probably shouldn’t be self-employed in the first place. Being self-employed is about challenging yourself and the world. It’s not about taking the easy way; it’s about taking the only way that will give you a sense of self-fulfillment and success.

   

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

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