Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Digitizing the Dance Floor

There shouldn't be any doubt about the influence, impact of digital content on consumers today. We consume information whenever and wherever in the world we find ourselves. We check email, search for information, research websites, carry on a digital chat with someone on an instant messaging platform or upload new photos to our Twitter feed or Facebook Fan page. These are just some of the ways we're all at the dance. But before we start taking a closer look on how the magic is made, I thought it important to highlight how the dance floor was built.

Our new digital way of life began just 15 years ago in the mid 90s, when a company called America Online launched a user friendly, graphically appealing Internet portal that allowed us to purchase things online, check the latest news in a variety of industries, monitor our stock investments and last but not least, meet new people in public or private chat (instant messaging platforms) rooms created by its members. How cool was it to create a chat room specifically targeted to one of your hobbies, interests or favorite teams. Then invite others with similar interests to join the discussion. It was like a lodge or craft club meeting, only you didn't need to get dressed up to attend. Remember how this digital service began to transform both your business and family time ?

So just as we saw a major transition from occasional to regular TV watching in the 1960s, America Online began to give consumers multiple reasons to log on. And people did so, even if dialup speed was the only way to access this new digital world. While most of the early logins were transactional in nature, consumers started to stay on longer and began liking the social aspect of being part of digital communities. These consumers were early adopters of social media and today make up the more than 625 million who are considered active Internet users (people who log on at least once every other day, according to Universal McCann's 2009 Social Media Tracker).
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