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Just Looking / Just Lurking – Who Are These People?

Posted on Feb 20, 2015 by in ThiNK First | 0 comments


I’m deeply curious about Lurking. I’ve been thinking and writing about the subject for several years. More recently I’ve begun to use the term “Just Looking” to refer to this group.

Lurking is a “funny” terms that the lookers have self-selected, but the majority of people still get a sense of negativity with the term “Lurkers”, so I’m making a slow turn to embrace “Just Looking” instead of “Just Lurking”.  People’s feedback is hard to ignore when accumulated over time.

What intrigues me most it that I sense many people aren’t actively thinking about the silent majority (whatever they are called). Today the passive consumer has more power than ever before. Learning how to connect with the I believe is a big opportunity.

We so easily (and logically) focus on what we can see and measure: Click, Views etc

By contrast lurkers/lookers are more challenging to measure. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? I don’t believe it does.

We opt to measure people we can see, people who act, people who like , comment and share. Ultimately we track those who buy. We do it because it’s easy.

We have social pressure to track and measure all we do. Nobody gets fired for measuring.

Focussing on the unmeasurable is a little more of an act of faith/belief. I believe there is huge value here. I believe the lookers are currently under-served by brands.

My question and my belief is there’s huge untapped potential to be enjoyed by focussing on the silent ones. By focussing earlier in the funnel you can help more people to act and help those people to become your fans.

Getting people to participate is a science, but so much of that is about what you do and how you behave before people act. This is a subtle but critical shift in thinking.

We’re always being judged – watched and evaluated. The challenge is if you are doing it wrong, you have no idea that you have been rejected in favour of another more approachable brand.

Perhaps you simply didn’t get found, but then that’s a content/SEO problem.

Why didn’t you get found? Likely because you were focussed on your brand and not on the customer’s self-service journey – the buyer’s journey.

Rejection happens so much easier and so much quicker in today’s digital world, but the shift to self-service has accelerated that impact. Rejection is mostly silent and passive.

So many people are put off by the way brands act, but brands are missing this fact because they typically focus from the first interaction onwards. They don’t know they are being off-putting (there are no visible signals).

1:9:90 is certainly one element that got me curious about lurking. 1:9:90 = 100% of your active community. 1:9:90 sets a great expectation. Only 1% of people will act. People who don’t know 1:9:90 miss this fact and often end up frustrated.

The 1% who do act entice the 9% to contribute and these intrigue the 90%. There is a domino effect in 1:9:90.

What 1:9:90 misses is the people who aren’t currently aware of you, but are perhaps already experiencing the pain of not having a product/service like the one you offer. They are looking. Are you looking to be found by these people?

i.e. the potential population of lookers/lurkers is much bigger than 1:9:9o implies.

This is why looking is so critical.

The content you deliver to serve your existing customers also serves this new audience of potential customers, so this strategy is not a major shift in thinking. It simply places more value on the content you provide this audience. The life-time value of creating such content is huge (if you do it right).

Here’ a deck outlining 24 rules relating to how to interact with people online. The rules exist to explain how to engage a passive audience to keep people interested and to entice them to step out of the shadows.

The rules were born from much experience in spending time online and on building the Listly brand, publishing a crowd-sourced board game. Also running a Twitter chat group on Lurking (#lurkerchat) for 6 months helped validate these ideas and lay down more thinking about how people operate in their choice to select brands and to participate online.

These rules were pulled together in the form of a book outline.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of Lookers/Lurkers as well as the 24 laws.

My thinking on “Just Looking” keeps evolving and I have more content to publish.

The story needs telling. Do you agree?

Nick Kellet (164 Posts)

Nick is co-founder the social curation platform Listly, that combines crowdsourcing, content curation and embedable lists to drive high-level community engagement, live inside your blog posts. Connect with Nick on Twitter · Linkedin, Facebook and G+ and follow his writing via his other guest posts and on his blogs at and

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