I discovered today that there is a name for people like me – Facebook lurkers.

While researching a story I am writing called Six ways social media drives sales, when I came across this report, called From Social to Sales, and discovered I am a lurker – a Facebook user who only rarely posts.

From the terminology – “lurker” doesn’t really sound like they love me, right? – I’m guessing that people like me are annoying.

Here’s the problem with lurkers:

  1. They are in the majority. According to this research, 68% of Facebook users are lurkers
  2. It’s hard to discern the influence of social media on their purchasing decisions (I knew there was a reason I liked being a lurker.)

While I feel a bit smug about being hard to discern, the problem is that researchers everywhere are trying to prove there is a business model behind social media and answer the question: is the amount that companies spend on social media justified by a commensurate uplift in sales?

A good question – and here’s why lurkers make it hard to answer.

One measure of the social influence on sales is whether social media users buy online or in-store after “favouriting” or posting about an item. Turns out 40% of them do that, and within a week, too!

Given that I am so unhelpful to marketers, while as the same time wanting them to be successful in their research efforts (I too want to link social to sales), I thought I could help out by explaining why I lurk

Three reasons why I am a lurker:

  1. Post-traumatic Twitter disorder. I have never quite recovered from my horrific first tweet in which I confessed to exactly how I felt at that moment – suffice to say, not all that great – and then realised that I did not want the entire world, and certain people in particular, to know this. I couldn’t work out how to “untweet” so I had to delete my entire account. From then on I became more circumspect … (to the point of paranoia)
  2. I don’t like receiving updates of a commercial nature. Call me old-fashioned, but I am not keen on receiving Facebook updates about products. For me, FB is a social network – a way to keep tabs on my family and friends, whom I call too infrequently. I don’t want ads, and I don’t want referrals unless I ask for them. So I don’t “like” commercial products that I use – which cuts out a lot of potential posts.
  3. I lurk, therefore I am. This is just me – I’m an observer. It’s part of what I do as a journalist – check out stuff, write my observations. When I create content, I like to think carefully (like I am right now) and to inform and entertain my followers. I’m not a blurter (although some of my best friends are, God bless ’em).

So, dear marketers, I hope this is a snapshot of my “lurking”  will help you understand why we lurker do what we do.

Calling other lurkers … can you relate to my reasons?