I found a survey (dated April 2008) by Gartner today with the top reasons people use the internet.
Top 6 reasons people use the internet:
- Use e-mail
- Gather information
- Online banking
- Sharing photos, videos, and files
- Geographic navigation services
- Shopping online
These six things are becoming “utilitarian,” and any new medium (mobile devices, etc.) will have to consider the importance of these six in user’s lives to succeed. I wish that the study would have broken down “gathering Information,” as it seems a little broad. I would be interested to see what percentage is gathering information on products, services, entertainment, etc.
The insight here for marketers is that if you can logically provide any of these services (and perhaps more importantly, provide them well), there is a world of potential users out there for you.
Interestingly enough, users between the ages of 13 and 18 primarily use the internet for different reasons than the six above, including downloading music, playing games online, blogging, and social networking. The article argues that these teens represent the future of the web.
My only major issue with that position is that I think the professional world will change much, much, much more slowly than the personal. E-mail is a good example. We know that teens today use e-mail less than any other demographic, but I don’t think that the social tools they use to communicate instead (IM, social networks, etc.) will replace e-mail in a professional environment. I do think that certain types of e-mail conversations will be replaced by other channels: short conversations that can happen over IM, personal photos that can be sent via flickr or facebook, links that can be shared via digg or del.icio.us, and announcements to close friends or no one in particular that can be shared via twitter or blog posts to name a few… but by and large I think e-mail will remain the standard for professional B2B communication.
LinkedIn works as a professional social tool because it was made with that sole purpose. LinkedIn didn’t start out as a personal tool and then attempt to be all things to all people. I use social media tools as a part of my job, but at many corporations sites like Facebook and YouTube are blocked.
If anyone has any examples of businesses using traditionally personal social tools to communicate with other businesses, please share!