How DigitalMarketer Activated 44% of Silent Group Members


(Editor's note: This case study was created in 2016 by our beloved former community manager Suzi Nelson. However, we found them too good to hide them in the depths of the blog. That's why we brought them back to share with you again. Enjoy!)

I came across head first with blind hope …

I didn't know if my experiment would work …

However, as a Community Manager at DigitalMarketer, I know that this company is always ready to do anything to connect with our community.

I share this with you today: the results and the strategy of my last experiment to be activated Non-participants within our Very active, private community, DigitalMarketer Engage.

We have increased …

  • Active members from 6,893 to 10,803 (an increase of 56.72%).
  • Reactors from 5,669 to 8,854 (an increase of 56.18%).
  • Commentators from 4,888 to 8,136 (an increase of 66.45%).
  • Busy, engaged Membership from 6,892 to 10,801 (an increase of 56.72%).
  • publishing company from 2,790 to 4,845 (an increase of 73.66%).

This is what our member statistics looked like before the experiment (we track all of our community metrics in Grytics – an analysis and management tool for Facebook groups):


And this is what the same statistics looked like five days later::


As you can see, my efforts ended 44% activation of previously silent community members –all in just five days.

For those members who have never contributed to our community before, this means:

  • 11% made their first contribution
  • 17% made their first comment
  • 16% triggered a reaction ("liked" a post)

And many posts like this:




Before we break down the strategy, a short sidebar:

I have now written something about community management on the DigitalMarketer blog. I may start to sound like a broken record, but for those of you who have just become familiar with community management, let's find out what it really is:

Community management (Noun)

The activities focused on creating a healthy environment for community members to connect and facilitate, strengthen and promote these relationships.

Now everyone on the same page? Big! Let's get to the experiment …

What is a lurker?

The purpose of this experiment (aptly titled "Love our Lurkers week”) Should NOT increase engagement, but activate users who could not take full advantage of our already highly active community, Digital Marketer Engage.

Like every group, forum or community, we have our own fair share of lurking.

According to Webster, a "lurker" is someone who reads messages written by other people in an online group without writing messages themselves. It is a common internet language for a member of a group, chat, forum, or other online community that makes no contribution – neither contributions nor comments.

This does not mean that Lauerers do not have an enormous sense of value when they are members of a community. You can read along and still get a feeling of satisfaction when you are part of the group.

… So why reach people at all who make no contribution when everyone is happy where they are?

To answer this question, it is important to understand that there are several reasons why Lauerer… well, lurk – and what motivators you need to see to make a contribution.

1. You have no practical need

Some lurkers have no practical need to contribute to a community. You can get all the answers you need by simply browsing. This group is more interested in information than interaction and generally reads with a specific goal.

It is interesting that, according to some studies, this subset of Lauer can actually feel a strong sense of community, even though they are not actively working with other members.

That's pretty important – just because a member doesn't participate doesn't mean they don't feel like they're part of a community. If you run your own community, don't make the mistake of getting everyone to post. This group of lurks is happy exactly where they are. Let it be!

Target group for Love Our Lurkers Week? No!

2. You get to know your community

There is another group of lurking people who are still learning the ropes and learning how things work.

  • Does my post violate rules?
  • Which language is appropriate?
  • What are other members like?
  • Which topics are discussed?
  • What kind of questions are appropriate to ask?
  • Is there anyone in this group that I can identify with?
  • How do I get additional help when I need it?

All these questions have to do with community culture. Community members want to feel that they fit in with them and integrate as seamlessly as possible into the culture.

Target group for Love Our Lurkers Week? Absolutely! I knew that I could write posts that informed this subgroup about our community to facilitate the transition from observer to contributor.

3. Social fear

This is a big one.

Participating in a community can be intimidating, especially if it is a “community of practice” like DM Engage. A community of practice means The members share a craft or a profession… In this case, that's digital marketing.

It's true – we have a lot of really smart marketers in our community who are very generous with their time and expertise.

Lurking members may assume that everyone else in the group is better informed than them, and are therefore reluctant to fear:

  • To ask a question that the community thinks is stupid.
  • Give advice that the community will find stupid.

There are many measures a community manager can take when it comes to fighting social anxiety. Calming this subset of lurking was one of the main goals of Love Our Lurkers Week.

The strategy

1. Built buzz

I didn't want our theme week to surprise our active members.

I knew that I would need your buy-in and, above all, your help to engage our dear lurkers. After all, how lame would it be if I were the only one upset that non-engaged members would suddenly join? No, we had to make it exciting for everyone!

About a month before the planned Lurkers week, I wrote the first buzz building post – well, it was part of the buzz and part of emotionally engaging our community members from the start.

It's simple: I asked if "Lurker" is a bad word.


Having read several articles about Lauerer in the past few weeks, I had a pretty good idea of ​​what would happen to this post: there would be many voices who didn't like the term. In many community manager circles, this is a hot-button issue as leaders try to find the most politically correct and least offensive term for non-participants.

And if you ask a group of 10,000 people what they like best to be called, you will get a TON of different answers.

Although I read every single comment and discussed the various terms in detail with my team, the REAL reason why I posted it was that our members thought about and talked about Lauerer.

What was surprising was that many self-described Lauerers interfered in the conversation. That was unexpected, but it makes sense – we're talking about it!




In the end I went with my stomach and the title "Love Our Lurkers" got stuck. The good news is that no one got upset and we had members who described themselves as lurking before the week ended. Not a big deal, but the conversion in the post was invaluable to prepare members for what's to come.

A week before the event, I wrote another crowdsourcing post and asked our active members to contribute previous posts to our "Legendary Post" list that would appear during Love Our Lurker Week.

This was another fun way to get our community involved in the whole process.


2. A post pinned

A pinned post is a post that a group administrator can post at the top of the group page. It stays up until it is removed or replaced by a new post. The idea here is that more people will see what I need for them.


This post described what the week was all about and I updated it daily to include direct links to the daily posts of Love Our Lurkers Week. I wanted to be sure that …

  • New members knew what was going on.
  • Active members were reminded to look for new participants.
  • Lurkers knew a little what to expect.

3. A competition is offered

At the last minute, I decided that our Lurkers could love the additional motivation of a cool prize and included a hashtag competition: All non-participants who contributed with the hashtag #lurkersweek were entitled to win DM loot.

4. Made one contribution a day

Given some reasons why community members are not participating – namely social fear and observation – I wanted my daily contribution to address these issues directly … and the response was great!

Let's take a look at the posts and split them up.

Love our Lurker week

Day 1: Community resources


Knowing that there was a subset of lurkers who wanted to get to know the community culture better and address the social fear of sounding stupid, my first post was about making members feel like they were contributing .

The post included links to our community guidelines and a glossary of general terms within the group so that non-participants can get to know how the community works and learn the insider-only language that integrates them directly into the group's “it” set Community.


I have also included general types of questions that our community members will be happy to answer and tips to quickly get answers to questions that members in the group ask.

In the end, I asked our active members to publish their own tips for publication. Remember, the goal of community management is to facilitate these relationships between members. A Lurker who reads another member's encouragement is far more powerful than any post I can make as a community manager!



Day 2: List of legendary posts


The ability to understand and connect with the past of a community is important so that each community member has a strong emotional connection to the group in which they are.

Knowing this, I was keen to create a list of posts that the community often referred to or caused a stir when I posted.


This not only familiarizes silent readers with how our community works, it also lets them know about the types of posts that generate the most conversations and engagements.

Day 3: Introduction of group influencers


This post was about introducing our inactive members to some outstanding members of our community who go beyond helping other members. I have listed what they have been doing, how long they have been a member of the DigitalMarketer Lab and what area of ​​expertise they are working in.

With this post, our influencers not only felt very valued (many bragged in their public Facebook profile that they made the list, which was great), but also introduced our community's social hierarchy.


This dips a toe in social psychology, so stay with me for a moment.

Social hierarchy is a natural development in every community – online or offline. People tend to sort themselves into a predictable social structure and usually put more experienced members at the top of the hypothetical ladder.

Promoting this hierarchy in an online community is a good thing. When the hierarchy is clearly defined, new members (or lurkers) feel they are working towards a goal, and their participation in the community can take them up the social ladder.

Day 4: social evidence


As I mentioned before, nothing is more powerful than hearing from active members why participating in the community is so valuable.

Getting to know other members is great for fighting social anxiety and motivating the people who are lurking in this “round of observation”.

Here are some of the 30 community testimonials our members have posted:






Powerful, motivating stuff!

Day 5: How the Community Manager can help


This post was about how and why every DM Engage member can contact me so everyone can have the best possible experience in the community.

Since this post didn't do much to directly address community culture or social fear, it's easy to see why this post was least engaged!


Congratulations to the participants


This is a small but important tactic.

If you want someone to do something a second time, it's a sure way to offer a little positive reinforcement. If a member can combine an action with a pleasant emotional reaction, chances are very good that they will do the same thing again in the future.

The results

We have seen that many of our lurkers reacted differently.

11% made their first contribution.




We have seen people identify and share as Lurkers, what they thought, what they worked on and what kept them from posting in the group for so long.

17% made their first comment.




These were people commenting on someone else's thread – be it my weekly lauerer thread or a post from another Engage member. They began to share their expertise and experience and weigh up wherever they could (this included newcomers to the group and newcomers to the market).

We had a lot of people who started attending and said they didn't get involved in the conversation because they didn't think they knew enough to interfere intelligently.

There were also people who knew a LOT, but only doubted themselves and assumed that someone else had a better answer. Aren't everyone afraid of being wrong at some point?

16% triggered a reaction.




This doesn't seem like much, but we're talking about it 16% of 10,000 People who have never had as much as like a post before.

Every potential active user in your community has to take their first step somewhere.

Everything can start with a like.