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You are here: Opinion & Analysis » The Internet Barometer
Published 7th Mar 2012
As memes abound will tell you, students are adept at plumbing the internet for information with remarkable frequency and assurance. A moment of uncertainty is all it takes for a hasty Smartphone Google search, or a cheeky Wikipedia reference. With a world of information at our fingertips it is both simple and effective to lean on the internet and its bounty of searchable information for any occasion.
And this is not necessarily a bad thing in society (be it as a student or otherwise). It embodies a clear human need to grasp information, and with it, the power that information can provide to an individual. For Businesses it provides an interesting challenge in how to best seep into the fabric of such internet trawling. There is a fine line between a company with a message forcing your way into the free information party bristling with paid ads and pop-ups, and subtly colouring the water of the information landscape with your own particular internet presence.
The two-way relationship between consumers and brands has become far more of an even fight in recent years. An internet user is hugely empowered by the ability to command an array of information simply by inputting a search string. Everything from exchange rates and product comparisons, to “hot or not” and social trends can be estimated in seconds.
So what did we do before the digital “finger in the air” which many a student has relied on for a casual filler reference or rough-shod cost estimate for their Business plan? Well some say that the way we recall information has changed with the predisposition to simply lean on always-on internet connections for the answer in a flash. Without needing to remember things, some people argue our range of available information is now much larger, but the information available for mental recall grows smaller by the day.
So what does this mean for Business? Well ultimately it will probably benefit those who cotton on to the concept of the “Google test”. Every search we submit is imbued with a yearning for a quick and simple answer. Realistically the Business that can give that answer is likely to get the attention (and potentially trade) of that individual at some point in the future. The trader who stalks social trends and matches his production and supply operations accordingly is likely to get one up on his competitors. And the service provider that flips searches on their head and reads them as a wish list from potential customers, is going to be able to offer the panacea for all their problems with their next release.
This goes beyond the maturing concept of paid search and SEO; it’s about Businesses understanding that the next generation of computing users can report on anything, anytime. It’s about more than just being given the answer by a Business or anyone else; it’s about seeing how that answer fits into the landscape of information and then stealing our own answers from that context. Buyer and Business beware, we have never had such an honest metric at our disposal and it grows more scathing by the day.