The Power of Spectators

Groundswell (the slightly dated but still highly relevant bestseller that relates how social technologies are transforming the world) groups consumers into six groups of social media users, from least to most involved. There are Inactives (do not participate in social media), Spectators (read, watch, and listen to social media), Joiners (join social media groups and maintain profiles), Collectors (vote and tag items, or use RSS feeds), Critics (post ratings and reviews, comment on blogs, contribute in forums) and finally, Creators (write/publish blogs, videos, music, and other media).

Those of us who are Creators (perhaps especially people who write Multifamily Insiders blog posts!) focus on measuring success and ROI by looking at what Collectors and Critics are saying. We look at the number of times someone “likes” our Facebook update or comments in response to our blog post.

While I confess that sometimes I, too, fall into this trap, the reality is that the percentage of site users who are active and outspoken in forums like these is pretty small. The majority of consumers of Multifamily Insiders and sites like it are Spectators who participate by simply reading the posts. Spectators represent the long tail of social media activity, and like other online long tail (e.g. web searches and music purchases), the majority of the action is happening there.

Next time you are feeling self-conscious that no one has commented on your blog post, take a look at the number of page views you've received. Then, make a virtual toast to the hundreds of Spectators you have touched and who are the foundation of this site.