I’m a lurker, you’re a lurker, we’re all lurkers

Let's all lurk together

Notes from Jenn:

  • I recently updated my list of recommended tools and apps on my website.
  • It turns out that my button for subscribing/upgrading had the incorrect link in the last send. It’s been corrected in the web version and the correct link is also below. To upgrade from your free plan to a paid one, hit the button below.
  • I’ve been annoyed by all the recent coverage on Taiwan and Western media’s amazing ability to leave Taiwanese people out of the conversation. This panel of Taiwanese Americans candidly discuss “escalating tensions” and this journalist talks about the reality of living in Taiwan.
  • Source request: I’m interested in interviewing coffee creatives about their work and process! Is there someone whose work you’ve admired from afar? Send me some names! These are profile pieces and one of the projects I want to do for tanJennts.
  • Published: I talked to the architects and designers of remote cafes, many of which are surrounded by lush nature.

words "the tanJentt" aligned left and above a full-width bracket facing down

I’m a lurker, you’re a lurker, we’re all lurkers

It is said that 90% of any online social readership are lurkers. Lurkers are those who consume the content but don’t respond to it. Nine percent are contributors and only one percent create content, forming the 90-9-1 rule. This is not a new marketing rule and it seems to apply only in spaces for online communities, such as Twitter, Reddit, interest-based forums, Twitch, etc.

Maybe it’s admiration from afar or you’re interested in the content but don’t feel a need to engage with it. I’m there with you. I lurk on all the digital platforms. Sometimes I eventually come out of the lurking cave and engage with the person (I’ve been trying to do this more often). I’ll go from consuming their posts to cautiously hitting like. Then maybe a repost and maybe a reply. Maaaaaybe. If I’m not feeling socially anxious, that is.

Lurking is a tough business. You don’t want to appear as a stalker. So you bide your time, waiting for the moment to reveal yourself. It has to be the perfect moment, though. Because you can’t unlurk (some would argue that you are still a lurker if you rarely interact). So you lurk until there’s something that resonates with you so deeply that you feel compelled to respond. At least this is my lurking playbook. I don’t know how others like to lurk.

There is a great benefit to being a lurker. You take no risks by hanging out on the sidelines. You read, learn, and move on.

In an aptly named research study called “Why Lurkers Lurk,” the participants cited 79 (!) reasons for lurking and seven lurkers’ needs. Some of their reasons are below.

  • wanted to be anonymous, and preserve privacy and safety
  • were shy about public posting
  • had too many or too few messages to deal with, i.e., too many messages were burdensome, and it was easy to forget low-traffic groups

A more recent study on Twitter lurkers found that they were more likely than active users to use the platform to see different points of view.

A chart showing that Twitter ‘lurkers’ are more likely than more active users to say the most important reason they use the platform is to see different points of view

But okay, now we’ve admitted that we’re all lurkers somewhere; what does one do with this information? As Jakob Nielsen wrote, “The first step to dealing with participation inequality is to recognize that it will always be with us. It's existed in every online community and multi-user service that has ever been studied.”

There are a few ways you can deal with it:

  • Examine user interaction data like click-through rates and opens to track lurker activity
  • Make user feedback super simple (e.g. those bathroom cleanliness feedback buttons in airports, Netflix’s thumbs up for ratings) and then use the information to offer recommendations.
  • Repeat after me: The loudest voices are not always representative of the whole. Though, sometimes they are!
  • Acknowledge your fans (but not excessively) in the hopes that lurkers will be enticed to come out of the cave.

So here’s an attempt to draw out some newsletter lurkers: Why do you lurk?

I’m not asking why you lurk here but I am interested in why you would lurk in general. Personally, I like to observe before joining anywhere or I lurk to learn about a certain topic.

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🤳🏻 social media

Twitter is testing a new look for Spaces, a tweets per month counter on the profile, ability to pin a reply, experimenting with how edited tweets might look when embedded, allowing multiple media types in one tweet, and status markers (like AIM statuses). The Twitter vs Elon Musk trial is scheduled for October 17.

Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri said in a tweet that the platform was moving to video because their data shows that’s what users want. A few days later, Mosseri confirmed that Instagram will scale back its full-screen test and its recommended algorithm (yay!).

Facebook shut down its live commerce shopping feature.

For the month of August, LinkedIn is offering its top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses free (examples: interpersonal communication, digital marketing foundations, unconscious bias). Pinterest shared data on planning for the holiday season.

📤 digital marketing

  • 2022 Email Marketing Benchmarks [HubSpot Data]: 47.5% of marketers said their email marketing strategy was very effective toward reaching their business goals, while 47.2% said it was only somewhat effective. Only 2.7% said it was somewhat ineffective, and less than 1% said it was very ineffective.
  • How Social Commerce Is Reshaping Customer Experience: The rise of social media and chat apps as sales and customer care channels is changing the way people buy from and interact with brands—and transforming the retail sector as we know it.
  • B2B Marketing Education: 7 Free Social Media Training Programs From Top Platforms: Online courses are an excellent way to enhance your career by offering a work-at-your-own-pace cadence, where it’s easy to fit in as much or as little instruction as your time allows, whenever and wherever you want.

👀 interesting reads

  • Shonda Rhimes’ formula for creating a hunk works every time: Jesse Williams, Regé-Jean Page, and Conrad Ricamora are just a few of the men who’ve benefited from a Shondaland endorsement. [As someone who started Grey’s from the beginning this year and a big fan of most of her shows, this was a fun read.]
  • How our brains cope with speaking more than one language: Speaking a second or even a third language can bring obvious advantages, but occasionally the words, grammar, and even accents can get mixed up. This can reveal surprising things about how our brains work. [I wouldn’t say I’m fully multilingual, though I was an ESL kid. This was fascinating to learn how multiple languages stack on top of each other in our brains.]
  • The Unbearable Whiteness of Philanthropy in 2022: “For every time I hear about a foundation moving to center equity in their work or fund majority grassroots and frontline organizations, I experience at least two more meetings in which Latinx people are a subject of discussion, but not agents of their own stories.”
artful leaf outlines on left, "plant update" immediately to the right
Left: a new bird of paradise leaf in the process of unfurling. Only the base has unfurled and there is tear in the leaf, stopping its growth. On the right, a photo of the same leaf and plant, fully unfurled.
This update required both photos. The bird of paradise leaf on left was several weeks in the making. A few weeks ago, I woke up to find that it had tore during the unfurling process. For all the past BoP leaves that this has happened to, the leaf would stop growing and the plant would puts its effort to growing a new one. But I found this little thread and helped it unfurl to about the 2/3 mark, mainly to see if I could. I was too lazy to chop it off. And a few days ago, I found out that the leaf had continued to unfurl! This has never happened to me before and I did not know it was possible.