( Editor’s Note: This case study was to be undertaken by our beloved former Community Manager, Suzi Nelson, back in 2016. But we thought it was too good to keep hidden in the extents of the blog, so we’ve brought it back to share with you again. Enjoy !)

I ran into this headfirst with blind hope…

I didn’t know if my experimentation would work…

But as DigitalMarketer’s community manager, I know this company is always willing to do whatever is necessary to connect with our community.

That’s what I’m sharing with you guys today: the results and strategy of my most recent experiment to activate non-participants within our highly-active, private community, DigitalMarketer Engage.

activate-community-users-img35

We increased…

Active member states of 6,893 to 10, 803( an increase of 56.72% ). Reacters from 5,669 to 8,854( an increased number of 56.18% ). Commenters from 4,888 to 8,136( an increase of 66.45% ). Engaged member states of 6,892 to 10, 801( an increased number of 56.72% ). Publishers from 2,790 to 4,845( an increase of 73.66% ).

Here are what our member stats looked like before the experiment( we retain all local communities metrics tracked in Grytics–an analytic and management tool for Facebook groups ):

activate-community-users-img1

And here’s what those same stats looked like five days later 😛 TAGEND

activate-community-users-img2

As you can see, my endeavours resulted in over 44% activating of previously silent community members–all in merely five days.

That means of those members who previously never contributed to our community 😛 TAGEND

11% built their first post1 7% attained their first comment1 6% originated a reaction( “liked” a post)

And lots of post like this 😛 TAGEND

activate-community-users-img3

activate-community-users-img4

activate-community-users-img5

Before we break down the strategy, a quick-witted sidebar 😛 TAGEND

I’ve written about community management on the DigitalMarketer blog a bit now. I may be starting to sound like a smash record, but for those of you simply becoming familiar with community management, let’s pin down what it truly is 😛 TAGEND

Community Management( noun)

Activities centered around generate a healthy environ for community members to connect with each other and facilitate, strengthen, and encourage those relationships.

All on the same page now? Great! Let’s get into the experiment…

What is a Lurker?

The purpose of this experiment( aptly titled “Love Our Lurkers Week”) was NOT to increase engagement, but to activate customers that weren’t reaping the full benefits of our already highly-active community, Digital Marketer Engage.

Like any group, meeting, or community, “weve had” our own bazaar share of lurkers.

According to Webster’s, a “lurker” is defined as someone who reads contents written by other people in an online group, without writing any contents themselves. It’s common Internet lingo for a member of a group, chat, forum, or other online community who does not contribute–neither posting nor commenting.

That’s not so be mentioned that lurkers don’t get a tremendous feel of value out of being members of a community. They can read along and still get a sense of satisfaction from being a part of the group.

…So why even reach out to people who don’t contribute if everyone is happy where they are at?

To answer this question, it’s important to understand that there are several reasons for lurkers … well, lurk–and what motivators they need to see to get them contributing.

1. They Don’t Have a Practical Need

Some lurkers don’t have a practical need to contribute to a community. They can get all the answers they need merely by browsing. This group is more interested in information than interaction, and is generally reading with a specific goal in mind.

What’s interesting to note is that according some studies, this subset of lurkers can actually feel a strong sense of community, even if they are don’t actively participate with other members.

That’s reasonably significant–just because a member doesn’t participate doesn’t mean they don’t feel like they are member of a community. If you run your own community, don’t induce the mistake of trying to get everyone to post. This group of lurkers is happy right where they are. Let them be!

Target audience for Love Our Lurkers Week? Nope!

2. They’re Getting to Know Your Community

There’s another subset of lurkers who are still learning the ropes and getting to know how things work.

Will my contribution shatter any rules? What kind of language is appropriate? What are other members like? What assortment of topics are discussed? What kind of questions are appropriate to ask? Is there anyone in this group that I can relate to? How do I get additional help if I need it?

All of these questions have to do with community culture. Members in a community want to feel like they fit in, and want to incorporate themselves as seamlessly as possible into the culture.

Target audience for Love Our Lurkers Week? Absolutely! I knew I could induce posts that civilized this subset about our community to ease the transition from observer to contributor.

3. Social Fear

This is a big one.

Participating in a community can be intimidating, specially if it’s a “Community of Practice, ” like DM Engage. A Community of Practice intends the members share a craft or profession…in this case, that’s digital marketing.

It’s true–we do have a lot of really smart marketers in our community who are very generous with their hour and expertise.

Lurking members might assume that everyone else in the group is more knowledgeable than they are, so they hesitate to contribute out of fear of 😛 TAGEND

Asking a question the community will think is dumb.Giving advice that local communities will perceive as dumb.

There are many interventions a community manager can shape when it comes to addressing social fear–easing the minds of this subset of lurkers was one of the main goals of Love Our Lurkers Week.

The Strategy

1. Built Buzz

I didn’t want our theme week to come as a surprise to our active members.

I is well aware that I would be required their buy-in and, more importantly, their help with engaging our lovely lurkers. After all, how lame would it be if I were the only one stimulated that un-engaged members were abruptly participating? No, we needed to make this exciting for everyone!

I made the first “buzz-building” post about a few months before the scheduled Lurkers Week–well, it was part buzz and component getting our community members emotionally involved from the beginning.

It’s simple: I asked if “lurker” was a bad word.

activate-community-users-img6

Now, because I had been speaking several clauses about lurkers over the past few weeks, I had a pretty good idea of what would happen with this post: “theres been” many voices who did not like the word. It’s a hot-button topic in many community manager circles as leaders try to come up with the most politically correct, least-offensive term for non-participants.

And if you ask a group of 10,000 people what they prefer to be called, you’re going to get a TON of various types of answers.

Even though I read every single comment and discussed the different terms at length with my team, the REAL reason why I posted it was to get our members thinking and speaking about lurkers.

What was surprising was that a lot of self-described lurkers sounded in on the conversation. That was unexpected, but makes sense–we’re talking about them!

activate-community-users-img7

activate-community-users-img8

activate-community-users-img9

In the end, I started with my intestine and the “Love Our Lurkers” title fasten. The good news is that no one get upset, and “were having” members referring to themselves as lurkers before the week was up. No big deal, but the transition on the post was priceless in getting members primed for what was to come.

I made another crowdsourcing post a week before the event, asking our active members to contribute past posts for our “Legendary Post” list that would go up during Love Our Lurker’s Week.

This was another fun way to get our community hyped up and involved in the whole process.

activate-community-users-img10

2. Pinned A Post

A Pinned Post is a post that a group admin can “pin” to the top of the group page and it abides at the top until it is removed or replaced by a new post. The hypothesi here is that more people will see whatever is it I need to them see.

activate-community-users-img11

This post outlined what the week was all about, and I updated it daily to include direct links to the daily Love Our Lurkers Week posts. I wanted to be sure that…

New members knew what was going on.Active members got a reminder to look out for new participants.Lurkers knew a little of what to expect.

3. Offered A Sweepstakes

At the last minute, I has been determined that our lurkers might enjoy the additional motivation of a cool loot, so I included a hashtag race: any non-participates who has participated with the hashtag # lurkersweek were eligible to win some DM swag.

4. Made A Post A Day

Given some of the reasons why that community members do not participate–namely social anxiety and remaining in a state of observation-I wanted my daily post to address these issues directly … and the response was great!

Let’s take a look at the posts and break it all down.

Love Our Lurker’s Week

Day 1: Community Assets

activate-community-users-img13

Knowing that there are a subset of lurkers who are looking to get to know the community culture better and address the social horror of seeming stupid, my first post was all about building members feel comfortable contributing.

The post included connected to our Community Guidelines and a glossary of common words found inside the group so non-participants could get to know how the community operates and learn the insiders-only lingo that will plug them right into the “it” crowd of the community.

activate-community-users-img12

I also included common types of questions that our community members love to answer, and supplied tips for get fast responses to questions members ask in the group.

At the end, I requested our active members to post their own tips for posting. Remember, the goal of community administration is to facilitate those member-to-member relationships–so a lurker learn encouragement from some other members is route more powerful than any post I can make as community manager!

activate-community-users-img14

activate-community-users-img15

Day 2: List of Legendary Post

activate-community-users-img17

Being able to understand and connect with a community’s past is important for any community member to feel a strong emotional connection to whatever group they are in.

Knowing this, I genuinely wanted to make a list of posts that are referenced often by the community or made a big stir when they were posted.

activate-community-users-img16

Not merely does this familiarize silent readers about how local communities runs, it also educates these members on the kinds of posts that tend to get the most conversation and engagement.

Day 3: Introduced Group Influencers

activate-community-users-img19

This post was all about introducing our non-active members to some stellar members of our community who go above and beyond in helping out other members. I rostered what they did, how long they’ve been a member of DigitalMarketer Lab, and their area of expertise.

Not merely did this post make our influencers feel very appreciated( many bragged on their public Facebook profile that they attained the roll, which was awesome ), but it introduced our community’s social hierarchy.

activate-community-users-img18

This is dipping a toe into social psychology, so hang with me for a moment.

Social hierarchy is a natural developed as any community–online or offline. People tend to sort themselves into a predictable social system, generally placing more experienced members among the priorities of the hypothetical ladder.

Encouraging this hierarchy in an online community is a very good thing. If the hierarchy is clearly defined, it establishes new members( or lurkers) feel like they are working toward a objective and their participation in the community can move them up the social ladder.

Day 4: Social Proof

activate-community-users-img20

As I referred to above , nothing is more powerful than hearing from active members themselves on why participating in the community is so valuable.

Getting to know other members is great at combating social anxiety and motivating any lurkers stuck in that “observation rut”.

Here’s a look at a few of the 30 community tributes that our members posted 😛 TAGEND

activate-community-users-img21

activate-community-users-img22

activate-community-users-img23

activate-community-users-img24

activate-community-users-img25

Powerful, motivating stuff!

Day 5: How The Community Manager Can Help

activate-community-users-img27

This post was all about how and why any DM Engage member can reach out to me so that they are able to all get the best experience possible in the community.

As this post didn’t do much to immediately address community culture OR social panic, it’s easy to see why this post got the least amount of commitment!

activate-community-users-img26

Congratulated Participants

activate-community-users-img28

This is a small, but important tactic.

If you crave someone to do something a second time, a sure-fire way is to provide a little positive reinforcement. If a member can associate an act with a pleasant emotional response, probabilities is good that they will do that same thing again in the future.

The Results

We understood many of our lurkers take varied reactions.

11% stirred their first post.

activate-community-users-img30

versus…

activate-community-users-img29

We saw people self-identify as a lurker, and share what’s been on their thinker, what they’re working on, and what stopped them from posting in the working group for as long as they did.

17% induced their first comment.

activate-community-users-img32

versus…

activate-community-users-img31

These were people that commented on someone else’s thread–whether it be my lurkers week thread or a post from another Engage member. They started sharing their expertise, their experience, and weighing in wherever they could( this included newbies to the group and newbies to the market ).

We had abundance of people start participating and explain that they hadn’t been weighing in on the conversation since they are didn’t believed they knew sufficient to weigh in intelligently.

There were also people who knew A Lot, but were just self-doubting and assuming someone else had a better answer. Isn’t everyone afraid of being incorrect at some point?

16% originated a reaction.

activate-community-users-img34

versus…

activate-community-users-img33

This may not seem like a lot, but we’re talking about 16% of ten, 000 people that had never so much as liked a post before.

Every potential active consumer in your community needs to take their first step somewhere.

It can all start with a Like.

The post [ CASE STUDY] How DigitalMarketer Activated 44% of Previously Silent Community Members in 5 Periods seemed first on DigitalMarketer.

Read more: digitalmarketer.com