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Study Shows That People Act Differently Online ……… Really ?!?!?!



Online BehaviorOK, so this kind of information is not going to set anyone on their ear this morning, I get that. I also get that the online marketing community and the tech world in general is in hibernation coming off BlackCyberFridayMonday. So for a little diversion let’s start the debate as to just how functional or dysfunctional social media types are as a result of their new found ability to ‘communicate’ with others.

cnet reports that a new eMarketer study reveals that people do things in an online environment that may differ from their face to face behavior. Normally we reserve this for the negative side of behavior but it works in a positive manner as well.

Of course, being less inhibited online can lead to both positive and negative behaviors. The research firm found that the Web helps 55.6 percent of men and 51.4 percent of women feel more “able to to meet new people.” Users are also using the Web to “be empowered to do something they wanted to.” The study found that 33.9 percent of male respondents and 29.2 percent of female respondents do things on the Web that they might not otherwise feel able to do offline.

While curious I am thankful that the details of what people do or not do as a result of being in the online environment were not revealed.
Now, let’s move over to eMarketer themselves and look at a pretty chart.

eMarketer Attitudes 11.30.09

Well, I find this type of research both interesting and disturbing. Basically, I am seeing that convenience trumps being real. Welcome to the new world order. I am a firm believer (but admittedly not the best practitioner) that unless you have at least had a phone conversation with someone your ‘interaction’ or ‘communication’ or ‘relationship’ is experiencing stunted growth at best and a borderline delusional aspect at worst. Go ahead and gasp and yell at me. After all the chart below shows that some of you are more likely to say something about me online than you would to my face.

eMarketer Activities

All in all, I always recommend that people be aware and error on the side of caution. Adults can do what they want but you parents out there need to explain to those who are growing up in this environment what the differences are between online and offline communication. Otherwise, we may end up with generations of screen gazers who think that that guy or gal on their screen really IS a nice person and that getting on a plane to meet them in person IS a great idea. Sure that works sometimes but sometimes it doesn’t. What level of risk are you willing to accept?

As for us Internet marketers, if someone is becoming truly ‘attached’ to your brand online outside of having some fun with it and getting useful information then we are in a whole new area of research that should be looked at.

So go ahead and have a fun day of lashing out at your least favorite brands and doing something you wouldn’t do if you weren’t in your jammies in the basement with your computer!

  • http://www.davidwalker.tv David Walker

    Frank, I think we already have a generation of screen gazers who think that that guy or gal on their screen really IS a nice person and that getting on a plane to meet them in person IS a great idea :)

    Next, we’ll have a generation of screen gazers who are jaded, don’t believe a word they read online, are averse to physically meeting anyone they met online and have eyes that glaze over any type of hyped-up sales copy. They’ll also know a lot about a lot of things and can get you an instant audience of 3000 :)

    Last, will be the generation of screen gazers who have never heard of offline communication, and would be hard pressed to believe mummy ever talked on the phone without seeing the person she was talking to.
    .-= David Walker´s last blog ..Live Webinar – Thursday 3 December 5pm EST =-.

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