One of my favorite statistics about communities is the one above which refers to the level of engagement in most online communities.
The user break down of the statistic looks like this: 90% lurk, 9% contribute from time to time and 1% are heavily active (or 1% Creators, 9% Editors and 90% Audience). This means that the bulk of your traffic and clickthroughs come from people that are just here to check out your community.
How to do you engage with someone who by their very nature is passive?
Adjust and plan accordingly.
Behavior is not something that can be changed easily. Humans as social creatures create and thrive on routine. Thus, if someone is a lurker? They likely will remain this way. You need to go in with the understanding that you are not going to be able to engage this audience the same way that you engage your normal commenters/community members.
Open the Gates.
What’s easier? Tweeting or writing a comment? The tweet is something that takes far less effort and is much less of a thought out decision. You don’t have to think to retweet. The same can be said with uploading a picture, leaving a reply or cutting and pasting a section of the post to share with your friends.
Lower your barriers for entry into your community. Allow members to scale their engagement in ways that they feel comfortable with. Most community members will
You don’t have to talk about the quantum mechanics in every post. Really, it’s alright! Sometimes, stepping back and taking a new look at an old problem can serve both your newer readers AND your existing ones.
Figure out what problems you’ve been having and try and work through them out loud in your blog. Works wonders for me.
Reward Positive Behavior.
You need to reward participation every time it happens. Thus, always follow-up with a first time commenter via email, tweet or comment back (at a bare minimum).
However, don’t sacrifice your community at the expense of your core members. Remember, they are the people who built your community into what it is today.
Always Have a Call to Action.
End each post with a simple, relevant call to action. I’ll follow my own advice at this point: What other ways can you think of to engage voyeurs and improve your own community?
Image Source: Quinn Dombrowski