Over the last 2 weeks I’ve noticed something about my online habits – they were being driven by primarily offline stimuli or personal silos. This was a significant enough change from the norm for me since, oh, 1995 when I got my first Internet connection. In the past 11 years I’ve surfed the web… clicking on banners, feeling lucky on Google, spending hours comparing prices or looking at vacation locations, Asking Jeeves, clicking on links in emails, blogrolls, message boards, or content on my merry way around the web. In a way I let the medium guide my behaviour and direction of my habits. I passively consumed the content and allowed my experience to be guided by the various entities I encountered.
The last two weeks (at least that’s when I started paying more serious attention) have been, well, a tad different. I’ve been busy catching up at work, I’ve been busy trying to read my RSS feeds & emails, and I’ve been out networking and strategizing in real life. This has left little time for any kind of surfing that wasn’t directly related to my immediate, or short-term needs. I clicked through to the articles that interested me from my email newsletters and bookmarked the ones to come back to. On occasion I followed a link from one of my RSS feeds to another site. Except… for the three TV commercials I saw while taking a break which prompted me to write down the URL’s (yes, with pen & paper!) and visit the websites. The commercials grabbed my attention because they were well executed, catchy, and had a memorable URL. And one prompted me to go out and buy the product (okay, fine, it’s the Trivial Pursuit “Totally 80’s“ board game, I couldn’t resist even if the website was umm, not robust…).
Then there were the four conversations I had offline, that referenced something I googled when I got home (yes Google, I actually googled on Google), and explored in more depth. Two were brand related and confirm the power of WOM, and two were marketing related and confirm that content is king and SEO is more than a nice-to-have.
My web experience morphed into a self-directed one driven by stimuli that was important enough for me to take time to pay attention to and engage with.
As we continue to get more time crunched and content saturated how difficult will it be for companies to get themselves positively featured in my self-directed experience? The goal of social media and engagement is to ensure that happens, but as we’ve talked about at the various industry meet-ups and events, the conversation exists both offline and on and changes daily. A big challenge moving forward will be the ability to successfully integrate the conversations and messages online & offline, while continuing to provide real value for the customer. Focusing on one or the other (and being a medium evangelist vs. a customer evangelist) is counterintuitive to human interaction and behaviour.