A friend of mine, who is a scuba diver, once explained to me that ‘lurking’ is when a diver will lie near the ocean bed and watch the marine life swim around above him. The same can be said of ‘lurking’ on the internet.
Lurking is the act of following a blog, forum or website without commenting or posting your own opinions. It is a way of watching what is happening without getting involved. Lurking is not only a great pastime, satisfying our eaves-dropping gene, but it is also one of the best ways to see what makes a blog stand out from the rest.
Newbie or just plain curious?
Whenever I am interested in a new web craze, or I am just plain curious about something new, I always find a few blogs that catch my eye and hang about watching what goes on. When I first started lurking I used to feel a little bit seedy, like I was a Peeping Tom, but as I got to know the internet ‘dos and don’ts‘ I realized that this was something that was expected, even encouraged.
Lurking gives us a view of a subject that interests us without the pressure of joining in. This is especially useful when we are learning something new and we do not want to make a fool of ourselves. Once our confidence has grown and we feel we trust the site, then we can dive in and make our presence known.
Spying on the competition
If you own your own business and are blogging about it, one of the great advantages of lurking is studying your competition. It is an easy and anonymous way to see what attracts people to your competitors. What are they doing that you are not?
Another advantage is being able to study a successful blog by reading through their old posts. If a site you enjoy has been running for a long time, whose visitors are vocal and lively, observe what the blogger posts that is attracting so much interest. What information draws these visitors to your competitor’s site?
We all like things that sparkle
In life we are all initially attracted to things by what we see. This same principle works for blogs. What we see first, will influence if we are going to get more involved. So when you are lurking on the internet, make a note of the design of a blog and what attracted you to it. Did it have flashing images, interesting post titles or crazy widgets in the sidebar? Though we might not always realize it, all of these things sometimes draw us to a blog.
In my opinion…
We all love giving our opinion on something and a truly successful blog, will have posts that are jam packed with visitor comments. What makes one post attract more comments than another? Is it controversial? Is it funny? By lurking, we can follow these popular posts and see what posting trends attract more comments than others do.
Though the word ‘lurking’ does sound faintly sinister, it is in fact an accepted pastime. So now you have been given permission, get out there and start lurking!