Engagement: The Sounds of Silence

Are we confusing silence with disinterest?

As marketers, ‘paying attention’ equates and audience’s level of ‘engagement’.  Jakob Nielson’s rule for participation inequality has been the standard for how we think about an audience’s engagement. I can count on my 1% active participators and 90% lurkers with 9% somewhat in the middle. While research from The Community Roundtable shows that active and healthy community management can radically influence these ratios, anyone that has attended a conference or a meeting knows that 90% lurkers and 1% active are the natural inclination of most audiences.

So given this broad understanding, what do social listening platforms do? They focus on the 1%. The 1% that are posting, tweeting, commenting constantly across social platforms.  The 90% go largely ignored by most of the current social listening platforms that focus on semantic analysis.

We are missing the sounds of silence of the 90%. These are people that intentionally follow others, like, engage in countless other actions… they just may not actively contribute. These actions, may be the sounds of silence, but they are also the sounds of engagement to be measured.  In fact, breaking these actions down to a simple engagement funnel, similar to the the one proposed by Social Media Examiner enables us to show how the silent majority is actually much more powerful.

Bottom line: embrace and measure your silent majority. Don’t focus on the noisy 1%, but gather all the data available for the ENTIRE audience to paint a full picture of an engagement funnel to understand your results.


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