Social media presence: Are you a lurker or a lover?

Aug 21, 2017 | Convert Competently

How’s your social behavior these days? I’m not talking about how you act at picnics or cocktail parties, but how you behave online: your social media presence.

Are you a social lurker, consuming content for your own use but staying hidden and quiet? Or are you a social lover, responding publicly and often to the information and ideas of others?

The difference is important both for your own content marketing efforts and those of the other people in your network.

Let’s look at why that is, and what you can do to improve your overall social media presence.

Free Social Media Cheat Sheet

Go from lurker to lover with these 22 do’s and don’ts!

Bonus! Get my social media startup checklist as well!

From personal play to business today

Although social media got its start as frivolous entertainment, today it goes far beyond that to encompass self-education, business networking, thought leadership, idea exchange, resource sharing and much more.

According to Small Business Trends:

  • 1 in 3 Internet users say they check social networks when looking for more information about a brand or product
  • Almost 90 percent of marketers say their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business
  • Over 50 percent of marketers who’ve been using social media marketing tactics for two years reported improved sales
  • 70 percent of professionals describe LinkedIn as a trustworthy source of professional content, and half of B2B buyers use LinkedIn when making purchasing decisions

You can and should leverage these legitimate business activities by using your social media presence to establish and grow your new startup.

Social media presence in content marketing

If you’ve read my e-book Content Marketing Isn’t a 1-Night Stand, you know that a well-rounded content strategy requires communication on many channels. Your blog, emails, videos, graphics – and social posts – all work together over time to connect you to your target audience.

Social media is a vital part of any content marketer’s toolkit. It’s an important way to draw people to the content on your website. It helps you establish your thought leadership in a circle of potential followers.

And it’s especially important when you’re just getting started. That’s because – in the beginning – you probably won’t have much of an email list yet.

Although response rates to social media posts are typically lower than for email (2-5% versus 20-40%), your social network could potentially be much larger than your initial email list.

So while you work on building up your list of known followers, social media can keep you in front of a large pool of prospects. Even after your email list has grown, social media can continue to give your business broad exposure.

What your social media presence can do

Want to talk directly with customers? Over 50 million small businesses converse via 2.5 billion comments on Facebook Pages every month. (Facebook).

Want more links to your content? On Twitter, link clicks account for 92% of all user interaction with tweets. (Hubspot)

Need to reach people who are learning, connecting, and advancing in their professional lives? LinkedIn has more than 450 million members across almost every imaginable type of job, industry, organization and skill. (LinkedIn)

These are but three examples of how social media could help your content marketing efforts.

But they’ll only work if you have a positive social media presence.

Social media presence: Lurking vs. loving

I’m guilty of spending hours watching videos of chili-pepper-eating contests or cute cats on Facebook on occasion, but there’s not much interaction in my behavior.

That kind of content consumption might entertain me. It might even educate me. But beyond that it’s not even remotely “social.”

I call it “lurking.” And it can happen on the business side of social media, too.

How many times have you read a business-oriented social post that you found interesting or useful and done absolutely nothing to respond? That’s lurking, too.

If we want people to connect with our content in some engaging way, it’s only fair that we do the same with others’ content. After all, social media is a two-way street.

A positive social media presence requires us to come out of the shadows and engage with the good content we encounter.

We have to become content lovers, not content lurkers.

How to become a content lover

A content lover is a positive social media presence.

It’s incredibly easy to become a content lover! All you have to do is link, like, comment on or share the content you’ve just discovered on social media.

Your simple actions will help the social content publisher immensely (more on that in a bit).

But guess what? Those actions will also increase your own social media capital by increasing your visibility, revealing your unique perspective and showing others that you appreciate good content.

It takes mere seconds. It helps others. It helps you. And it’s what you as a content marketer expect and hope of others – so why not follow the Golden Rule and become a content lover yourself?

How content lovers change the social landscape

A social content lover impacts his or her network in different ways depending on how he or she engages with content.


When you just read a social post that comes across your feed, you’ve done nothing to help the publisher. Even if you thought it was great and filed it away for later review, you’ve done nothing except help yourself to free content. You lurker, you!


When you follow a link embedded in a social post, you’ve let the author know (anonymously) that you had some potential interest in the topic. That’s somewhat gratifying for the publisher, and it can count as a visit to their site. But you haven’t done anything to increase exposure for the content or give the publisher feedback on its value.


A like (or similar) gets you out of the shadows – a little bit. You’re no longer anonymous because the publisher can see your action and your name. Your own social followers “might” see that you liked the content if it showed up in their feed when they were looking. But this is still a minimal response to something you thought had value, because it tells the author nothing about what you liked or its relevance to you. And you still haven’t increased the content’s exposure.


Ah, now we’re shining a bit more light into the darkness! A comment – even a simple one – helps the author see your individual reaction to the content. Take a few seconds to frame your comment, and the author’s insight will grow. Your network might see your comment if it shows up in their feed.


A share is the penultimate in social media love. When you share a social media post, you’re telling the author that their content has enough value to distribute to your own social network. Congratulations: you’ve just helped the author and your colleagues by increasing the number of people who see good content.

As an example, I usually get about 40 – 60 views of each post I place on LinkedIn. But two of my LinkedIn connections shared one of my recent posts with their own networks and that post received over 400 views! That’s the power of adding multiple social networks together. (Thanks, Harald and Carol!)

What’s better than a share?

In my opinion, the ultimate way to share social media love is to subscribe to the publisher’s blog. Your subscription gives the publisher a known follower with which to carry on a conversation. It gives you access to ongoing valuable blog posts, which you can then – ta dah! – comment on and share some more! It’s a beautiful thing.

Social channel variations

Each social channel – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, your blog and others – might have slight variations to the rules of social love described above. What’s more, their rules of engagement can change every so often.

But one thing remains certain: ramping up your social media presence to do less lurking and more loving is a good habit to pursue.

Social media presence etiquette

1. When you comment on or share a social post it’s considered good form to mention the author by name. That way they’ll be notified that you’ve taken action. On LinkedIn, start typing the author’s name beginning with @ and select the full name from the list of connections that appears. On Facebook, just type the name of the friend in your network. Other channels have similar direct notice features.

2. On the flip side, it’s common courtesy to thank others for comments and shares of your own content. Again, use names so that your interaction gets seen.

3. When you share content, be sure to introduce it somehow to your network. Don’t just share without adding an introduction. The intro could be a simple rewording of the title, a reason why you’re sharing, a particular point from the original content or something else. This doesn’t need to be lengthy or complex, but it should be sincere and meaningful to you.

4. Make it easy for others to share your content on your blog by using social media sharing buttons.

5. If someone shares your content fairly often, I try to reciprocate. I’ll follow their posts more closely and share those that I think will have value to my own network. Good deeds deserve good deeds in return!

Be intentional

I’ve heard it said that it takes about two weeks of practicing a specific behavior for it to become a habit. Changing your social media behavior is no exception.

1. Set aside time in your schedule to practice good social media presence – perhaps 15 minutes once or twice a day to start.

2. Review your most valued social feeds, looking for content that intrigues you.

3. Comment, share (and subscribe!) to the good stuff, and let the authors know you’ve done so.

4. Do this every day, and I promise you’ll find this more valuable and rewarding than watching cat videos!

Sharing is caring

With so much poor content flooding our screens every day, it’s more important than ever to show your appreciation when someone offers you high-quality free content. By following the do’s and don’ts outlined here, you’ll be well on your way to changing from a lurker to a lover.

Why not start right now by sharing this article?! Thank you!

Free Social Media Cheat Sheet

Go from lurker to lover with these 22 do’s and don’ts!

Bonus! Get my social media startup checklist as well!

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