The value of lurkers is misunderstood.
Lurkers offer absolutely no benefit to the community. If they don’t participate, how can they offer any benefit? Other members don’t know they exist. When calculating the health of the community, lurkers aren’t included.
A community with 10 active members and 10,000 lurkers is in considerably worse shape than a community with 50 active members and 0 lurkers.
However, lurkers may offer a benefit to the brand.
The ROI of the community with 10,000 lurkers might be much higher. Lurkers may be more likely to purchase from the organization. They may become more loyal. They may be more likely to give feedback and they may tell others about the brand.
Too often we confuse the metrics used to calculate the health of the community with the metrics used to calculate the ROI of a community.