There is no question that the most coveted members of any online community are the "sharers". These are the folks who engage with you and/or your organization on a regular basis. They also drive the metrics that are so coveted in the social media space: likes, mentions, shares, comments.
But a study of over 55,000 social media users in Canada, the U.K. and United States finds that two-thirds of your audience are "lurkers": individuals who log into Facebook or Twitter, but never post or share anything.
In fact, these lurkers dig social networks: 87% login to Facebook at least once a week and 70% login more than three times a week. They are watching closely but not interacting in a public way.
Can a lurker become a sharer? Not likely, says one of the folks who reviewed the data, Alexandra Samuel: “Based on the data we have looked at, sharers and lurkers are such different types of people that I don’t think that lurkers can become sharers that easily."
This is completely at odds with Edgerank and other algorithms that assume that the only people interested in your content are those who "talk" about it by interacting via likes, shares, mentions, retweets and the like.
The big takeaway is to not assume that because your audience is quiet doesn't mean they aren't there. Click rates and views on social networks become a valuable metric to track in order to truly understand who is consuming your content.