In part 1 we looked at the stats of the Sommerer Family website, but I mentioned that that’s only one way of looking at how a website is doing. It turns out that getting people to use a family website is not the easiest thing in the world. I’ve spoken to many people who have started a family website, but stopped after a month or two.
I think that what most people don’t realize is that the decision to have a family website is actually a family decision. It’s usually not a formal decision, and maybe it’s usually not even a conscience decision. Let me explain what I mean.
It only takes one person to decide to setup a website for a family. But unless you have a certain number of family members who come to the website and participate, it eventually seems like a lot of wasted effort to the person who started the website. The family website gets less and less attention until it eventually dies. It probably dies with a fair number of people who still come to the site regularly, but didn’t really get involved beyond that.
I don’t want you guys to think I’m complaining. Rachel, Sam, Christina and I knew what we were getting into when we started this. And really, we all (as a family) have made a pretty good start of it. We have roughly 180 people in the family and 32 of us have registered on the site (registering is only necessary to view addresses, birth dates and such). There are 18 people who have commented at least once and nearly a dozen people who have submitted something to post on the site.
The truth is, it’s hard to get people to say something on a website. People have a tendency to think that other people don’t want to hear what they have to say, or that what they have to say isn’t important enough to type out. They come to a website regularly, but no one knows that they do. In technogeek these people are referred to as “Lurkers”. They lurk on a website, but never make their presence known.
Verily, Verily I say to you, there is more joy at SommererFamily.com over 1 lurker who submits a comment than over 99 registered users.
How are we doing? I’d say we’re doing a lot better than most family websites. But we’ll have to make a decision about whether or not we want to have one. In this case, we vote with our keyboards. If we want a family website, we have to make comments. Not long comments or deep comments. Just comments.
A website is all about communication, and communication is a two way street. People are coming here to hear what you have to say. If you’re not saying anything, they will quit coming.