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.
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.
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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:
- 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!
- The larger the group, the larger the lurker ratio. Social psychologists call this the social loafing phenomenon.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, and you can add these to your “participation toolkit.”