Do you publish brilliant content online (including social media) but get little engagement?
Don’t be disheartened – there are plenty of lurkers out there in your audience who probably are taking notice of you.
Back in 2017 I wrote an article on my PR Warrior blog titled Online Engagement is Terrific, but don’t Underestimate the Value of Lurkers.
In it, I discussed the importance of engagement on social media (yes, it’s still vitally important!), but also highlighted the 1-9-90 principle, which states that for collaborative websites such as a wiki, where users can both create and edit content, 1% of people create content, 9% will ‘interact’ with it (i.e. commenting, modifying or offering improvements), while 90% view the content without contributing. This principle dates back to 2006 (attributed to bloggers Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba), but it still rings true today.
The 1% Rule
I was reminded of this rule the other day while reading a new article on the Animalz blog – Write for the Lurkers – in which the author Ryan Law highlighted an updated variation of the 1-9-90 Rule: the 1% rule.
The idea here is that only 1% of participants in an online community actively contribute content, while 99% quietly consume.
Whether the ‘silent majority’ is 90% or 99%, it doesn’t really matter.
Bottom line: a shit-ton of people are probably consuming your content, but you’d never really know.
Anecdotally, for years now, I’ve experienced the ‘invisible 90 per cent’ – I call them lurkers. Personally, I’ve had heaps of people, many of whom I did not know, including prospective clients, tell me things like:
“I’ve been following you on LinkedIn for ages and you keep popping up.”
“I’ve been reading your stuff for a while now.”
This has been my experience for a long time, and it continues today. No doubt, if you’re a content creator, you’re in a similar boat.
Key takeaway: While we’d all love more engagement with our content online, don’t be disheartened if people aren’t publicly liking, sharing or commenting on your social media posts. It’s a fact of life in today’s noisy digital world, but it doesn’t necessarily mean people aren’t taking notice of your content efforts.
As Ryan Law reminds us:
“The engaged, active, enthusiastic 1% of any online community—the vocal minority—are powerful amplifiers and voracious readers, and they are the reason places like Twitter and Reddit are worth visiting. But as content marketers, it’s essential to remember that they are not always your target audience. We have to write for the lurkers.”