Why I lurk on social media sites

It’s been estimated that over 93% of people lurk on social networking sites; not participating, just listening to the 7% who are actually taking part in the conversation. I confess to occasionally lurking myself.

I’m really a social person. But sometimes when I’m on Facebook or Twitter I just don’t feel like chatting.

So, I lurk. Now lurking can be defined as “to stay hidden, ready to attack” according to Webster’s New World Dictionary. (Am I the only person left who still has a dictionary on her desk?) Anyway, I do the hidden part mostly. I would only attack if somebody tried to steal my coffee.

You learn a lot when you lurk. You can follow up on tempting links and be the proverbial fly on the wall if there’s an interesting exchange. I tend to do a lot of research on internet marketing this way. And, sometimes I just eavesdrop. I suspect a lot of people do.

Chris Brogan wrote about “social listening” a couple of years ago. He took the process a step further by suggesting ways that information can come to you, by using tools like Google Alerts, Technorati, and Twitter’s search feature. I’m always surprised when I talk to authors who don’t continue to monitor what’s new in their field after their book comes out. Aside from tracking when you or your book is mentioned, it’s a good idea to keep tabs on what’s new in your field. Who knows? This sort of monitoring could lead to additional articles you can write or products to create to add to your book sales.

Some simple steps to try:

1. Google Alerts are easy to set up to get info on your topic delivered to your mailbox.

2. Follow gurus in your field on Twitter. Use the search feature to find them, then follow them.

3. As an added step, if you like their tweets, check out their blogs and subscribe.

Happy lurking!