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Are you a lurker? Why the 90-9-1 rule is out of date

90 9 1 lurkerAre you a lurker? Are your customers lurkers? And is that a good thing?

If you're already lost as to what this blog post is about, let us explain!

Lurkers, Likers and Initiators

A lot of us who are on social media take in information without responding. We read people's blogs, enjoy their posts, laugh at their photos, see they've posted a link to an article, but not actually act on any of it. In the old 90-9-1 rule, we're the 90% who 'lurk' in the background, the hidden majority. We're the lurkers.

When we Like a page, make a comment (even just LOL)  retweet, or click through on a link, we become active. We become one of the 9% who take action in response to what's already out there. We're the Likers.

If we actually post something ourselves, or start a thread or conversation, we are one of the 1% who like to post stuff across all our social media channels, and (usually) like to air our views. We're the initiators.

Of course, which 'group' you fall into; the 90% lurkers, the 9% Likers, the 1% initiators, will vary day to day, week to week. You may not post anything for weeks, and then go on holiday and share your photos. You might get involved in a heated discussion over what happened in the UK election or the latest Bluejays game, and then nothing takes your fancy for ages afterwards. 

Time for a new rule?

Some commentators have suggested that the figures need rejigging to be more like 70% lurkers, 20% active and 10% initiators, which is probably more realistic in this age when Liking a post can be done with the touch of a finger on a smartphone..

However, the important fact remains that 70% of your social media audience are reading your posts, but just don't feel the need to respond. This is both heartening and frustrating; it means your messages and informative posts are getting out there, but you've no idea if they are working for customers. Only when people interact and make a response do you know for certain that your blog has had an impact. 


There are proven ways to provoke a reaction (more on these in a later blog), but perhaps it's missing the point. We need to trust that if someone Likes our page or subscribes to our blog, they must like what we do enough to make the effort. 

It's a bit like an old fashioned printed newspaper (remember those?!). Newspapers sell copies, but they know that not every person who buys a paper will read every article. They also know that not every person who has a view about an article will write a strongly worded missive to the Letters page. Those who actually respond directly back to the newspaper are a tiny minority of the overall readership.

A life beyond litter trays

One major advantage of blogs over newspapers is that they don't end up as cat litter tray lining! Blogs do have a life beyond that first publishing date; they are available to be found by search engines for years afterwards, and often are. (A Google search for "social media 90-9-1 rule" brings up blogs from 2010 and 2006, for example.) The huge advantage of this is that this history of blogs/articles establishes your blog/website as a source of quality information. Search engines love that, and your website's rankings will rise accordingly. 

So, do make time to post to your social media sites. Vary the style of content so people can enjoy a variety of posts. Share good stuff you find, and write informative articles/blogs for your website that helps potential customers as well as current ones. 

And keep on writing (or ask about our social media blog writing service) - the more information, the better. 

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