Why We Go Online

So we’ve talked about niches, lifestyles, why we buy, and the three buttons. But what motivates us to actually go online in pursuit of more control over our lives?

Why We Go Online

Back when I unveiled my megalomaniac vision to create a framework for internet marketing called Instant Global Impact, I outlined the model as the customer’s path along three ‘clicks’ or buttons.

Last week we started with what happens before someone clicks Search by looking at Why We Buy things. Now let’s see why they we go online.

Release the Kraken Venn!

A three-part Venn diagram with overlapping circles labeled Entertainment, Utility and Community.

Entertainment aka ‘Boobies and Farts’

This one is easy. How much of our web surfing is about entertainment? Whether it is a fake sports drink commercial or the Gwen Verdon/Fosse hip hop remix of a Fosse routine on Ed Sullivan (later remixed to Beyone’s new song which was dance-synced and then remixed again) or watching Ron and I react to the notorious Two Girls One Cup, so much of our daily info-intake is about entertainment.

Detail of the diagram labeled Entertainment with bullets Diversions, Distractions, Confirmation, Aggravation.

I’m including a broad category of things in ‘entertainment’:

  • Diversions – Anything that makes you forget the pain of your sad little life.
  • Distractions – Anything that provides an easy-reach to not deal with what is in front of you.
  • Confirmation – Anything that reminds you are a beautiful and unique snowflake.
  • Aggravation – Reading news or views that make you mad or get you jacked up (find this a great pick-me-up in the afternoons). Some of us are driven by dis-satisfaction.

What is key here is the urge to change or reinforce your emotional state. To feel something different, to feel something, anything. Conversely – it can be the exact opposite: entertainment to numb us or distract us from what is going on around us. Pretty much the entire programming of the E! Channel.

Utility aka ‘What’s that rash?’

Detail of the Venn diagram labeled Utility with bullets How-To, Recipes, Reviews, Information.

Another aspect to our daily online usage is utility. “The answer may surprise you!” “Are you at risk?” “Are your children safe?” Fearmongering is an old tradition in marketing (and politics). A lot of our surfing can be connected to online research. How to do something, recipes for success, reviews of what works or what to buy (or what not to) and other information. Our burning need to diagnose that burning sensation. Or how to tame the world around us. Or the people around us. Looks for headlines like ‘7 Steps to…’ or ’10 common mistakes…’ The vein of ‘control’ runs through this.

Community aka ‘Me too!’

I used to stop right above with just Entertainment and Utility. But I’ve gradually added Community to the mix.

Detail of Venn diagram labeled Community with bullets Sharing, Discussions, Informed and Caring.

If there is one thing the internet teaches us, it is:

There’s always a bigger freak than you.

Whether it is news anchors or shoes or strobe light photography, there is always someone out there who is just a bit more nuts about something than you are. This is the lesson of fetish. Communities spring up around practices and obsessions: furries and fan fic, etc.

Community can have a very loose definition. Sure it includes straightforward forums where you have to login and there’s rules and a whole set of norms to learn but it is also as loose as blog comments or Facebook friending – and you gradually start to see the same people orbit the same topics or sites.

Communities re-affirm each individual and re-affirm the group identity as well. ‘I thought I was the only one!’ Think of sports fans or Harry Potter fans or – good God – the pro-ana crazies. To share and celebrate is a huge human impulse and the internet allows us to do this with utmost speed and access.

I tried to explain this to one of my cousins during Thanksgiving when she was talking about Facebook and all the stuff people use to trick out their profiles. I said ‘You like scrapbooking right?’ She answered, ‘Oh I love scrapbooking!’ And I said, ‘It is the same thing, just digital!’

What am I missing? How do you cultivate these three ideas in your blogging and online business? Tell me right now:

This entry was posted in Instant Global Impact on by .

About Andy Wibbels

Andy is an award-winning blogger and author of the book Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Wired, Business Week, Forbes, and other national and international media. He was worked at several San Francisco startups including Get Satisfaction, SAY Media, InMobi, Keas, and Mindjet. Currently, Andy is Director of Marketing at Lucidworks. Tw · Fb · G+ · Li

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