In 2011, using the Internet to build brand identity and relationships is a key to marketing success. That’s hardly news. You’ll find examples of this in practically every business magazine, and it’s preached at every conference you attend.
But why do some companies seem to find more success at doing that than others? Some who struggle with their online strategy probably view the Internet as a visitor. It’s time for them to become a resident.
In recent years, the terms digital natives (those born in 1990 or later), and digital immigrants (everyone else) were popular in marketing circles. The thought was that if a brain developed in pre-digital years, it was unavoidably rooted in the past, and would never really understand the online world. This concept was simple, well received, and, it turns out, a bit off base: there are plenty of digitally connected, Internet-savvy people who never once logged on as a child.
So, discussions of natives vs. immigrants eventually evolved to digital residents vs. digital visitors. I call them Internet residents and Internet visitors. Internet residents (of all ages) spend a percentage of their life online. They purposefully budget time and resources to use the Internet to help them project their identity and build and maintain relationships. They tend to be active in social media, and their Internet time is an important aspect of their lives.
Internet visitors, on the other hand, use the Internet as a tool – only if the need arises. They don’t build relationships or identity online. They generally avoid social media. They don’t have a use for it. They just visit to accomplish specific tasks.
Over the course of time, Internet residents can develop authority and influence within their online community. Internet visitors never develop such influence.
In many ways, companies approach the Internet much like individuals: there are those who turn to it on occasion, and others who incorporate it into their fabric of being. Time and resources are naturally and logically budgeted, their online identity is important to them, and their web identity’s importance is clear throughout company culture.
It takes time, but the reward follows: authority and influence within the online community. Has your business committed to becoming an Internet resident by developing and nurturing its Internet identity and relationships?