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Marketing means changing behavior

September 20, 2010

When email first entered the workforce, it required a complete shift in behavior. The shift was gradual, but it’s now complete – the first thing people do when they come in is check e-mail.

We all do. Unless you’re one of the people who have adopted the new behavior of checking on a smartphone. A behavior that didn’t take nearly as long to develop.

Joining a social network requires a behavior change.

When I joined Foursquare, I would constantly forget to check in. It took a while for the behavior to kick in. I’m not quite there yet, partly because where I live doesn’t have a lot of Foursquare traction, but also because I don’t go out as often as I used to.

Social bookmarking sites like Reddit or Digg demand the same kind of behavior change. After reading something new, or interesting, one has to think about submitting articles. It’s not enough to just Digg or upvote or Stumble content.

That’s why the social network that wins is often the one that makes it the easiest. Buttons that appear on the browser are examples of the kinds of tools that help people win. The Digg, Stumble or Delicious tool bar are critical.

Facebook changed behavior.

Like e-mail, Facebook has changed people’s behavior. Now, when people get in, one of the first things they do is “check their Facebook”. Even the language is meant to show the relationship that checking Facebook has with checking email.

Facebook is ingrained. Foursquare isn’t, but it’s more established. So Facebook Places isn’t on the top of people’s heads yet. It’s here that Facebook learned, with Places, that checking in is a whole new behavior to engrained.

And that’s the point.

Understanding behavior, and getting into people’s habits is the goal of brands. We have behaviors that On the very extreme level, no amount of behavior modification will get me to order a Rum and Pepsi. I’ll always say coke.

But then, I never thought I would check in.

All behaviors can be modified. But the first step, always, is understanding the behaviors. What’s changing is that behaviors are rapidly changing. The passive consumer who watches 4 hours of TV at night is being replaced by a consumer who watches TV online, on phones, etc. We can time shift our entertainment through a behavior change.

YouTube reports 20 minutes of video uploaded every minute. Flickr just celebrated their 5 billionth image. 500 million people are in Facebook. And yet, TV viewership is at its highest ever. People are still watching TV, but there are behaviors that go with TV. Understand those, and the marketing can work to change it.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2010 10:21 am

    I love the approach you take,because I think it is the only way to navigate the changing waters of marketing these days. You almost have a liquid approach at this point.


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