If you’re activating a paid advertising strategy, social media offers a wealth of data that can be leveraged to reach your target audience, drive and evaluate specific actions, and report on the ROI of your efforts against benchmarks. Of course, as with any advertising platform, social media can’t perfectly capture every follower connection or action. A key reason? Enter: social media lurkers.

Social media lurkers are those who view your content, but aren’t actively engaging with it; it’s  estimated they make up more than half of your social media audience. You’re probably one of them for some brands you follow. At some time or another, we all are.

While difficult to report on, social media lurkers are an important group to capture given their size within any brand’s following. That’s because they’re consuming your message and potentially acting on it, whether that’s ultimately buying a product, recommending your brand to a friend, attending an event or signing up for a newsletter.

Here are three ways to think about and report on the elusive social media lurkers:

  • Consider the 28-day trickle effect. There are many benefits to promoting your content with ad dollars, including the ability to see if followers took a digital action within 28 days because of it. Through analytics tools, you can see if a consumer was served your ad and clicked on it, but didn’t comment or like it, and then visited your company website within 28 days. This shows that while the lurker may have only read vs. engaged with your content, the message resonated! With this data, you can consider retargeting the lurker with a second ad to guide them back to your website or to take additional desired actions next time.
  • Review offline actions. If you have access to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data through a program like HubSpot or Salesforce, you can compare those who were served your ad with those who took action offline. For example, say you run a holiday ad announcing an in-store sale and target a specific audience on social. You can compare the list of who your ad targeted to a list of people who made an in-store purchase during the sale, typically through credit card data or email addresses. This analysis allows you to credit your online ad with driving a purchase, even if the consumer didn’t like or comment on the sale ad.
  • Track anecdotal feedback. As customer service representatives, retail workers or company leaders interact with followers, encourage them to note and share anecdotes of when someone says they saw your post. Keep track of that feedback in a spreadsheet that outlines what platform the content was on, what the post topic was, and what, if any, action they took as a result. Over time, you might be able to quantify the impact of social lurkers and manually uncover insights about why that content prompted them to buy your product.

While these methods can’t perfectly capture the specific, measurable impact of social media lurkers (nothing yet can!), it’s important to understand how to best analyze, report on and learn from their content consumption.

If you’d like to learn more about social media marketing, advertising or reporting, please reach out to me at shughes@linhartpr.com or to our Digital Strategist Miranda King at mking@linhartpr.com.