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Online Behavior

Media (R)evolutions: What makes you use the Internet?

Sangeetha Shanmugham's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

The Internet is overwhelming. It’s simple as that. We’re bombarded with content and advertisements on pretty much every website we visit. Advertisers struggle to collect data on what will catch our eye and what will take us to their content. How old are we? Where do we live? What devices are we using to get to their page?

But one thing that has been overlooked often, among researchers is the ‘Why?’

Why are consumers more likely to engage with some content over others? What are the motivations behind consumers to seek out information?

A research study done by AOL seeks to uncover that ‘why,’ and explores over 55,000 consumer interactions with online content to better understand their motivations. The research revealed that people around the world are engaging with digital content in eight different ways, which this research refers to as “content moments.” A content moment is comprised of four elements before, during, and after engagement: the motivations for initiating the content experience, the emotions felt during the experience, the outcomes of the content, and finally, the topic of the content.

These eight content moments are:
  • Inspire - Look for fresh ideas or trying something new
  • Be in the Know - Stay updated or find relevant ideas
  • Find - Seek answers or advice
  • Comfort - Seek support or insight
  • Connect - Learn something new or be part of a community
  • Feel Good - Improve mood or feel relaxed
  • Entertain - Look for an escape or a mental break
  • Update Socially - Stay updated or take a mental break

Apples are not oranges – but bad questions will make you think so

Sonia Jawaid Shaikh's picture

While global wave-based country surveys may be asking boring questions, many others are not.

Consider this survey by Pew on why American workers use social media at work. Instead of merely relying on the number of estimated hours and types of social media used or attempting to calculate the internet subscriptions per 100 people in a community, the survey goes ahead and gives respondents a chance to explain their behaviors. Interestingly, a majority use social media to take a “mental” break from work, followed by connecting with family and friends.

Similar results were found by World Wide Web for a different demographic: poor urban women in developing countries. When asked why they access the internet, 97% of them said they used the internet to maintain existing social ties.

Now forgive me for making a leap, but millions of users around the globe “could be” using social media primarily to take breaks or to connect with friends and family. If that is true, it means that a huge majority may not be very interested or active in social campaigns or political participation via social media. In this scenario, the usual largely accepted link between political activity around the world and the number of social media users may require serious readjustment.