Your social media audience: Lurkers, Dabblers and Enthusiasts

28 Apr 2015


"Social media analytics can’t tell you how to become a more customer-centric company" claims Vision Critical, a Customer Intelligence Company from Canada that has managed to segment the social media audience and label users into three broad types: Lurkers, Dabblers and Enthusiasts.

The research report, What Social Media Analytics Can’t Tell You About Your Customers, reveals substantial differences in activity and purchasing behavior between these groups, with high implications on the engagement perception and how companies should broaden their views while taking into account the social media pulse. 

The real audience is split between 29% enthusiasts, 19% dabblers and 52% lurkers, but their "share of voice" and what is seen in social media analytics is 85% enthusiasts, 10% dabblers and only 5% lurkers.  


Enthusiasts: 85% of social media updates come from enthusiasts, but this group represents only 29% of the brand audience. They are the extroverts of the internet and "the people that social media analytics do a good job of capturing", according to Alexandra Samuel, one of the innitiators of the research. They engage often and are more sensible and open to social shopping and recommendations, online and offline. Avid users of their mobile devices. 61% of the enthusiasts are females while in the other groups things get into balance.

Lurkers: The introverts of the internet, "the silent watchers" (68% visit Facebook at least once a day), lurkers make up more than half of a brands' social media audience, but only account for 5% of the content captured by analytics. Follow fewer topics on Facebook (though, they’re just as likely to play online games), less interested in sharing their own views with online friends, less interested in their mobile devices, more into TV.

They may shop less, but definitely should not be neglected, taking into account the size of the segment and their purchasing power (11% of the Lurkers make more than 100.000 USD a year compared to 9% in the other groups).

Dabblers: Dabblers are "the mid tear". Because they post so much less than enthusiasts, they account for only 10% of what you hear on Facebook, even though they make up almost 20% of the Facebook audience. And 89% of dabblers are daily Facebook users.

The report is interesting, with lots of already drawn conclusions and recommendations and can be downloaded for free here - we recommend downloading the broader version not just read the preview. 

Our own top 3 reasonings after reading the research: 

1. The engagement rate on social media reflects only the opinion of 30 - 40% of the audience. And because lurkers seem so much different from the enthusiasts, it is sensible to think twice before jumping into conclusions or measuring performance on likes, comments & shares.

Yes, it does mean that a post that is not so popular on Facebook may be a better converter than you think. One solution is to play with setting newsfeed audiences for posts - you know, the "target icon" near the "location pin" on the lower bar of the "create post" box - and see what comes out of that.

2. Like it or not, TV is still a major player in the media industry and has its role in reaching a big slice of consumers that social media fail for now to properly address.

3. We don't see here how much the reach is disproportioned between the three groups, but if we think at the Facebook algorithm and that the more you engage, the more you will receive updates from certain brands, we tend to think it is pretty affected. Boosting posts to solve the equation? Hold on your horses! The ads algorithm is optimized to deliver higher reach and / or engagement with lower costs. This means that 1. enthusiasts get a bigger slice of the paid reach and 2. lurkers are expensive and considerred inefficent.

In an ideal world, social networks should take into account and adapt their display strategies to encompass better all users and all social behaviors. But when everybody is chasing for likes and the advertising industry finally has something to measure, why should they change that?

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