The Blurring Line Between Worlds: Humans, Screen Watching, and Social Media

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blurry-line-highwayIt seems the deeper you look into Social Media, the more it resonates as the natural evolution of the Internet’s ability to facilitate effective communication and to mimic our everyday lives. While scores of people would still consider themselves neophytes in the online space, many of us have settled into a routine with our Internet experience and no longer see it as something new, pretty, and shiny. It has gone from a novelty all the way to a mainlined utility, like the coffee maker or microwave oven.

To this degree, the Internet is becoming a natural extension of our every day, “real world” experience. “Online” is less another place, and more just another means by which we humans get what we want, when we want, in the world at large. Allowing for this real world incorporation is one of the base level deliverables of the Internet specifically – that a key to this utility is its function as an onramp to our communication highway.

I’m careful not to call the Internet the highway itself, as I believe the Internet is more of an enabler for the highway. We work it for the tool it is – to get us quickly to content we are looking for, and also to make room for our expectation to engage in an interactive dialogue (the “two way street” element of the highway).

There are three important words in that last sentence: quickly, content, and dialogue. When it comes to the world of Social Media and web 2.0, any evaluation of a user’s experience holds these three things within the inner circle of critical factors. In brief:

Quickly: Are we lazy, or just impatient? Probably both. Like our inability to fathom watching television anymore without a fancy remote sitting on the couch next to us like our favorite pet, the Internet had better give us everything at our fingertips, and it better work faster than I can think about how slow it’s going or I’ll get frustrated.

Content: If it wasn’t clear years ago, it’s hard to miss anymore. Content – the information we are seeking to find instantly – is the lifeblood of the Internet experience. Everything we seek and encounter online measures up as good, bad, intriguing, boring, disturbing, correct, or incorrect content. And the search engines and online communities continually try to help us wade through all of it.

Dialogue: Our offline world is not one of mute submission to stimuli. Likewise, as the Internet evolves to mimic and blur more of our “real world” experience into the “online” realm, the content we encounter must continue to foster reaction and conversation. Point me to something I might like because I’m too busy to find everything myself, and I’ll do the same for you.

More and more, video seems to be scratching the itch on all three of these key elements of our online experience. It streams more easily today than ever, and technology continues to make leapfrogged advances even as we feel pretty satisfied with current video delivery speed. Plus, a 30 second video can often give us a thoroughly satisfying cliff notes-like version of content we might otherwise have to spend far longer reading in order to digest.

Video has already proven to be one of humankind’s all time favorite means of ingesting content. Heck, in many ways the Internet itself is just an interactive TV screen, and we really like TV screens. Is it any wonder that we seem to respond so well to the television experience within a medium that is already playing to our time honored fascination of being hypnotized by a screen? And video introduces a uniquely human quality to the Internet content it contains – voices, faces, and eyeballs to connect with, all of which seems to be dialogue already in action when we bump into it. That studies show our reaction rates increasing when viewing video should come as no surprise. A quick video delivers a more three dimensional message than written words, and triggers easier consumption of its content. And now this content is easily shared with others across all manner of niche community conversation portals in the Social Media arena.

While the Internet Marketing world gloms on to video because it scores such high points with search engine algorithms, it should be noted that video is working in search engines because of its inherent ability to enhance the user experience and replicate the real world. In other words, video serves the core objective of the engines, and thus it performs well. More than rushing to produce a library of “how to” or “soft sell” videos hoping to out rank rivals, businesses should realize that video offers them the ability to expand their online presence. It allows them to develop a persona within that ever-evolving landscape of the web as it becomes more and more an extension of the “real world,” and less merely an advertising medium. The next big thing, whatever it is, will come sooner rather than later. Establishing a video presence on the Internet now can be practical for the long range development of a business’s ability to deliver content quickly to an audience, especially when that audience is thirsting to interact with that content just as quickly. That trend has lived through all the ups and downs of the Internet’s evolution.

Like life imitating art, and art reflecting the opinions of life, the Internet is also coming to participate in this back and forth, this give and take. Video is just another logical medium feeding this synergistic fusion between “worlds.” It’s been around a lot longer than the Internet, and it’s not likely to be going anywhere any time soon.

Video and its undeniable role in the Social Media landscape is a fascinating subject, and evident in the fact that the upcoming Search Engine Strategies conference is devoting an entire day to the interplay of Social Media and Video Strategies.  We should look forward to a lot of insightful information coming out of the event.


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