Social networkers who form groups, clubs and the like, often worry that they are not getting enough participation. They point to the fact that even though many people may have registered, few take part. Indeed, there are social networking clubs and forums dedicated to helping club owners increase their participant rate..!
However, new research suggests that the “lurkers” (the people who just read the group, but don’t contribute) may actually be getting something out of it. So that means you group will have influence – even if only a handful of people actively contrbute.
The research was published recently in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and it found that lurkers in health-related forums did gain benefit from simply reading material. Indeed, the results show that “lurking” has the same effect as actually taking part. So much so that therapists may even recommend reading forums as a kind of therapy.
Although the study was restricted, it does point to the fact that merely hanging around on the sidelines of a group can provide a benefit. As a result, if you run a social networking site or lead an online club or monitor a forum it may well be that you don’t need to concern yourself with getting more active participants. It seems your group is having its effect anyway, even if few people contribute.