90 Percent of Your Readers Don’t Engage: Understanding The Silent Majority
By: Ashley Robison

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One of the biggest concerns facing bloggers is engagement: how many comments are we receiving, how do our readers interact with us, are they sharing our posts, and what kind of feedback do we get?

The reality is, we don’t hear from the majority of our readership. They are a silent majority.

Every day that a post goes live, it is read by hundreds, if not a thousands of people.  But how many people are engaging with that post? In reality, it’s a very, very small percentage, and undoubtedly, you’ve noticed the same on your site.

In a post from DIY Themes, they talk about the 90:9:1 Principal, and we learn that:

  • 90% of readers lurk on your blog quietly while consuming your content
  • 9% of readers are editors and comment regularly
  • 1% of readers are the fanatical people who leave page-long comments after each post.

When you see those statistics, how do those compare to your own site? That that would probably be a pretty darn close comparison to my own statistics, and it may even be GENEROUS to assume that 10% are commenting in one form or the other!  Compare your stats on Facebook or Twitter– what percentage of your fans or followers are responding to what you put out? You may find similar ratios again.

It’s easy to believe that everyone interacts with technology the same way that we do.  As bloggers, we’ve cultivated a relationship with technology that is interaction based: we comment on blogs; we tweet each other; we engage with brands on Facebook pages.  But the fact is, there’s a significant portion of people on the internet who don’t have that same relationship with the internet. A significant group of people aren’t on Facebook OR Twitter. They don’t check their email daily, and they may be drive-by readers.

The silent majority use the internet to find information; maybe they found your site via a Google search, found an answer, and moved on. They may be friends of your friends who passed along your site; they may have found you from another blog they love or read about you in the local paper. They may read your site because they enjoy it, but don’t put in the time and energy to interact with a blog. (And realistically, they also have no clue the time and energy it takes to maintain a blog!) They think, “This site is fun to read,” and they visit when they remember to.

But they’re loyal readers, nonetheless.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that the majority of people who engage with my blog are other bloggers.  Occasionally I do get a reader response who is not a blogger.  I value the comments I receive from other bloggers– I do.  But there’s something special about receiving a comment or an email from the silent reader. It means that what I’ve written, what I’ve created, has motivated them beyond their normal response.  It’s evoked an emotion in them that has pushed them to respond.

Bloggers are not our only readers, and there’s incredible value in thinking about the silent majority who readers and supports our blogs.

How familiar are you with the audience who reads your site? Do you create content with that silent readership in mind or are you creating content for those more likely to interact with you? Have you figured out a way to engage and interact those readers… pull them out of the silence and into engagement?

Comments

  1. Avatar of E-M
    E-M says:

    Oh this post was like heaven, really. I totally relate to that. I think the most important thing is to have readers that really do care about what you do. It’s the best feeling in the world when you get some feedback from people who really and sincerely love your blog! I really try to engage my bloggers with little questions in the end e.g “what do you think about this?” and so on :) I really hope to see more engagement in the blogging world!

  2. Avatar of CynthiaCM
    Cynthia says:

    I try to create content that I think people would like, but I’ve found that the only people who comment are other bloggers themselves (for the most part). As I’ve said before, I get a lot of comments on my personal style site (which I don’t update too often), yet few on the main lifestyle publication (which does not have a personal-personal focus. On that site, I write about events, restaurants, and post interviews, etc…)

    Do you think topic makes a difference? Are people less interested in commenting about events/galas?

    Cynthia

    http://thecloset.delectablychic.com (personal style site)
    http://www.delectablychic.com (main lifestyle site)

  3. Avatar of Pinksole

    You know I’ve been thinking about that and I try to use my quantcast data to better understand my readers as far as age, income etc…
    xo
    Rachelle
    http://pinksole.com

  4. Liam Anthony says:

    Such a great article, I actually think about this all the time.

  5. I find that I get a lot of responses from readers– I think it really depends whether you have written something that inspires readers to engage with it. If your content is primarily visual it doesn’t encourage a lot of response except for “that’s pretty”. Making people think and actually engaging with interesting topics makes people want to comment and put their opinion out there.

  6. I find most comments come from fellow bloggers but non-bloggers prefer to tweet, facebook and email if they have something to say. I guess if you think about it I only comment on other blogs, probably because as bloggers we build our community, but I never comment on another other type of website. Perhaps non-bloggers see our blogs like we see say a magazine or shop website – just there for reading!

  7. nathalia says:

    I know that feeling! I have been blogging for more than 2 years, and at first i didn’t get any respond. Then one day, a team from Nokia asked me to be part of a contest because they like my content so I felt like “finally, someone had noticed me” (ahahaha). Sometimes, I get a few random messages from readers, saying so nice things like; “you have inspired me” or” I read your posts every morning”, and I love those kind of messages. Even though, I would love to get more feedback from my readers, not to say “I have thousand of comments” but to know that I’m making something from them and they valued. However in the mealtimes, those random cute messages are the ones that encourage the most!

    http://www.thekeyitem.com

  8. Aily says:

    The amount of visitors and pageviews on my blogs have been the highest they have ever been, but somehow my comments have dropped significantly. I try to add questions in my post, make post based on their problems etc to stimulate reactions. I still haven’t found the perfect method, but I’ll keep trying. :-/

  9. I find that I have the most engagement from non-bloggers on Instagram, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy IG so much!

  10. I ask a lot of questions in a different colour at the end of each of my posts to try and get them to be involved and leave their opinion. I write mostly about life advice and feminism and intersperse that with posts about art, tattoos, and other cool things.

    I find I get comments on other social networks that the original post from my site got sent to for distribution purposes, i.e. reaching a wider audience. Which can be frustrating, because I need the comments on my site, not my satellite web presences. Oh well, I am only receiving up to 200 hits a day, so I have a long way to go to gain a bigger audience and the more people who reader, the higher the likelihood of people getting involved.

  11. I find that I get a higher number of comments on personal styles posts featuring photos of me wearing a hat and less comments but higher view counts week in and week out on the howto wear a hat, hat hairstyle DIY type posts. I will continue writing both types.
    Kathleen

    http://thatsaprettyhat.blogspot.com

  12. Avatar of Tasha
    Tasha says:

    Great article! I just started blogging for my business. I see the views but not seeing the comments. Have to remember that comments dont hold as much value in the success of the blog. If I am giving great content and my readers are learning and sharing I am doing my part. The comments will come soon

  13. Avatar of MonicaP
    MonicaP says:

    Try to think from a visitor stand point. I visit many blogs, but I don’t always comment. Sometimes a blog post doesn’t inspire me to say anything or sometimes I like what I see or agree with the commentary and post a response.

    I think if you’re getting the views and your bounce rate is low .. then you’re doing a-ok.

    Monica
    http://www.pear-shaped-gal.com/

  14. Olivia says:

    What a great article. I’ve developed some really great friendships through blog commenting with other bloggers. It’s a great support system plus it’s a great way to show your silent readers that they aren’t the only ones reading your blog! But it’s definitely more important to look at daily unique page views compared to daily comments :)

    Before starting my blog in July, I read about 10 blogs on a regular basis but I had never commented, other than occasionally on giveaway posts (I think that is a great way to get a better gauge of your silent readers).

    Also, when I shared a personal story about a hair color emergency & literally was begging for advice, some of my silent readers came out of the dark :)

    Olivia
    go for the glam

  15. My way to do it is through polls or queries, quick ones as a post. For my surprise it has been a real good way to hear some of the silent ones. ;-)

  16. Avatar of Lillian
    Lillian says:

    I agree that most commenters are bloggers, in fact I am yet to get a commenter that doesn’t run a blog; although, I’m new to the blogosphere so that’s understandable. I think that the reason most comments are by bloggers is because they understand how exciting it is to get comments and understand the way that the blogging world works. Whereas silent readers tend to be there solely for the content and if the content is sliiiiiightly substandard or doesn’t stand out then they’ll just keep browsing.
    http://sewoverdressed.blogspot.com.au

  17. Heather says:

    The vast majority of comments on my site come from other bloggers, and within that that majority are friends. I comment on their sites, they comment on mine. Be friendly! If you aren’t a mega blogger this is the best way to build a community of people who actively engage in your content.
    Other ways I encourage other bloggers to comment are by asking questions and creating original content that encourages a reaction from readers. I also have comment luv installed on my site, and I don’t have captcha!
    Like most bloggers I love getting feedback on my blog. Comments feel good! But I do t expect most people to leave a comment. It’s time consuming after all.

  18. Avatar of Michaela d'Artois

    This is a really great article that I think can speak to everyone in the IFB community. I am often worrisome that I am continuously putting out content that no one is reading. I know someone is obviously, due to my stats but I rarely get feedback in the form of actual comments. I would love to get more discussions going to push me to write more and to see what my readers respond to.
    Something that is so easily forgotten is that not everyone out there is a blogger. We are naturally more chatty on the blogoshpere.

    Thanks for putting this out there!
    Michaela
    fashion415.com

  19. Avatar of Elena
    Elena says:

    I blog less that a year and feel that 99 percent of commenters are bloggers as well. But I believe it’s not the reason to be worried and stressed out about the number of comments, I built amazing relationships with most of my fellow bloggers and enjoy blogging!
    Elena
    http://dcinstyle.com/blog/

  20. Megan Doyle says:

    I find this a difficult subject! For me, its awkward asking questions towards the end of a post and trying to engage my readers, because I’m afraid no-one will answer or respond! I suppose its the only way to start to get a reaction though. Most of my readers are not bloggers however, and don’t feel they need to interact with my posts, but every now and then I get one lovely person giving me the encouragement I sometimes need!

    http://darlingwearetheyoungones.blogspot.com.au/

  21. Avatar of Nasreen
    Nasreen says:

    When I write a post, I have to say I’m quite happy with the engagement I get from readers. Although it’s obvious when the blogger hasn’t really engaged because they write a generic comment so they can leave their links. Overall my readers are definitely a silent majority :)

    http://lazyobsession.blogspot.com

  22. brian says:

    I have a small blog section in my site and I was considering deleting it becuase it seems nobone comments. But I see that is not uncommon now.

    I try to simply post content that would be related to my site product offering.

What do you think?