Who are those people who attend your mastermind group, Q+A session, or class but never talk? Why do people on Facebook and LinkedIn 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 simply reading the message threads, but never interacting. 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.
For short webinars, low-cost membership programs, and in social media, the lurker ratio is closer to 100:1 – for every 1 person who participates, there are 100 people just absorbing the content and conversation. In longer workshops, virtual classes, and mastermind groups, you should expect 90% or more engagement.
If you’re finding your audience isn’t engaging with you, here are some tips to move the conversation along.
Why don’t they participate?
There are a number of reasons why people don’t comment on your Facebook posts or participate during a webinar:
- too busy
- nothing to add
- feeling shy
- hard to use your technology platform
- not interested in the topic
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 through message forums, Facebook groups, etc.
Want to learn how to start a mastermind group? Click here to get my free video tutorial on how to create a mastermind group of your own.
But here’s what is most important:
We all have something to add to a conversation – our feelings, our experiences, our knowledge, and our questions. What comes from within counts. As content providers, we all love when people leave comments on our blog, interact during our classes, or join the discussion in a mastermind group meeting.
And let’s face it: the whole point of a mastermind group or workshop 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.
Below I share some tips for engagement during live meetings and via social media.
For all types of classes, membership programs, and mastermind groups, here are some guidelines:
- 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 70-80% speak up during the session.
- The larger the group, the larger the lurker ratio. Social psychologists call this the “social loafing” phenomenon. I know you want to scale your program, but at what cost?
- The longer the event, class or program, the lower the lurker ratio. Sometimes it takes awhile to get participants warmed up. They might not begin to participate actively in the discussions until they get a feel for the others in the meeting. When you have a multi-session event, you will find that engagement increases in the second and third sessions.
- 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. In mastermind groups, this is simply part of the meeting agenda. But for classes and Q+A sessions, you have to get them talking immediately. If you jump in with a lecture, they become passive consumers of your content and it’s harder to get them talking later in the session.
- 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.”
- 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.
- If you use a message forum, make sure it’s easy to use. Sometimes your platform is simply too difficult to use, especially if a participant it accessing it via their smartphone. If you don’t know why they’re not participating in your message forum or Facebook group, ask them.
For social media engagement:
- 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.
- 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.
- Understand that for some people, social media is purely social, and should be relaxing. They don’t want to answer questions that are hard to answer, like, “What do you think your life purpose is?” It’s easier to answer the question, “If you could make one change in your life, what would it be?”
- 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.
- 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. As we know, social media sites aren’t showing all your posts to your audience, especially if they include a link. Consider putting the entire blog post text in your Facebook or LinkedIn post, or uploading your YouTube video directly to Facebook, instead of providing a link.
- 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. Continue the conversation.
- 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 sharing a recipe for the Chickpea Burgers you had 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, and you can add these to your “participation toolkit.”
- Read the article: How to Create and Run a Mastermind Group
- Read the article: How to Select the Right Members for Your Mastermind Group