This is an interesting question and one often debated!
Alot of the research tells us that in fact although how easy to use something is is important, its the value you get out of something – it’s utility – that really influences our behaviour.
Let me put it this way. If you think about your own behaviour, think about your responses to the following questions:
- Why tweet on Twitter?
- Why connect with friends on Facebook?
- Why share photo’s on Flickr?
- Why talk to your family through Skype?
Isn’t the phone, a BBQ, a photo album, a conversation over coffee technically easier? Yes!
But there is something of value in these technolgies that we connect with, especially over time and geography! Although ‘ease’ is important, especially in system design, it is tapping into the value your market get’s out of them and their functions compared to other channels or technologies is what really matters.
Let’s think about social networking!
According to report published in March by Nielsen (2009), two-thirds of the worlds Internet population visit a social network or blogging site and these technologies now account for almost 10% of all internet time.
Social networking has overtaken personal email to become the world’s fourth most popular online sector after search, portals and PC software applications Nielsen (2009).
Why do you think this is?
They provide a real human value over traditional modes of social interaction, especially email!
The scary thing for marketers (and somewhat for designers) is that this rising trend to co-create, share and comment on content alters our expectations.
It not only alters our expectations of interactions in general, but places more demands on our expectations of the ease of use and especially the value of the web (be it social or linear web). It changes our expectations of the offering you provide through the web and your brand overall.
So perhaps we need to ask less questions about the measurement of the use of these technologies by our communities – yes there are over 6 million registered people using twitter, So!
Why are they using it? What value is it? Let’s focus on figuring out and tapping into what ‘value’ our communities really get out of them and then work this into content and design to engage dialogue within the community.
So points to consider, what ever technology, tool or channel, if you use it in your marketing:
- Make it easy to access, use and read
- Make it easy to download, share, and participate
- Understand what value your community get’s out of these technologies
- Most importantly – make it’s use of real human value!
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