The keys to good social media … #4

From lurkers to contributors …

The fourth and final key to social media is not just getting people to turn up in your social media space, it’s getting them involved.

How do you engage with people via social media?  This is actually the hardest part of running any social media program.  This isn’t like Kevin Costner in the field of dreams ‘if we build it they will come’. You need to work hard to a) bring people into the community but then work even harder to b) engage with them.

In a workshop yesterday, I was asked ‘how do you turn people from lurkers to contributors?’  She was having issues with many people interested in her social media presence, but very few actually contributing.

That’s quite normal.  Research from a few years back found that around 70% of social media communities observe the contributions of others while not adding anything themselves.  In short, they like to watch.

So how do you turn that 70% into contributors?  Well, the first thing to realise is that some people won’t contribute … and that’s okay.  They don’t want to participate proactively – and probably wouldn’t if you were holding a conversation around a board table in the real world.  So expecting the whole 70% to start becoming posting machines isn’t feasible.

But you can chip away at the others.  Some ideas for you:

  • Ask questions.  Too many corporate social media efforts are one-way message broadcast services.  You can’t look at it this way if you want to be engaging with people.  You have to talk WITH them, not AT them.   So ask their opinions, ask questions and get them to respond to issues by asking them to … but keep it professional. Find out how they use your products or services, but be careful asking them which is their favourite day of the week or whether they scrunch or fold.  They’ll disappear faster than you could imagine.
  • Start the ball rolling for them.  Sometimes people are reluctant to jump into a conversation (or even a social media space) because they don’t want to be the first one to talk.  If that’s the case for you, you may want to set up a few people to be key contributors.  Give them ideas if you need to.
  • Find out why they don’t participate.  Perhaps they don’t feel they know enough to contribute.  If that’s the case, then show them that any contribution is welcome.
  • Use polls or simple response competitions.  Clicking on a radio button is actually a contribution.

These are just some ideas to hopefully spark further ones.  Growing social media is not just about numbers … it’s about engagement.


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