Thirty years ago I was schooled by the largest advertising company in the country. They were conducting a national pro-bono advertising campaign for the Department of Justice. I was a subject matter expert providing technical expertise to the campaign. They asked me if I wanted to understand the intricacies of advertising? I eagerly said yes.
One of their principals they taught me was an adherence to basics in communicating and public relations. “Simple is better,” they said. Do not get ahead of your audience. “If you understand that the basics of communicating involve simple constructs, you will understand the right ways of successfully offering a message.”
That message continues to resonate through the latest report from Pew. We in communications constantly search for the next big thing; the next Facebook, the next modality that will allow us to reach the greatest number of people for the least expense.
Problem is, we tend to ignore the basics and the research below states that search and e-mail are the dominant methods people use to communicate and gain information.
Daily Use Depends on Age, Income and Education
The research points out that it’s not use but daily use that dominates digital communication and that there are considerable differences as to who uses these forms of communication. Income, age and education continue to rule “but” age seems less of a factor than in previous years. Older folks are using digital communication in increasing numbers.
The use of social media continues to record considerable gains. Anyone ignoring social media will soon find themselves on the sidelines.
But search continues to dominate the digital experience along with e-mail. That’s where the bulk of our time as communicators needs to be. With those foundations firmly in place, then we need to establish a social media presence that meets the needs of our audience.
Search and email remain the two online activities that are nearly universal among adult internet users, as 92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web, and a similar number (92%) use email. Since the Pew Internet Project began measuring adults’ online activities in the last decade, these two behaviors have consistently ranked as the most popular, even as new platforms, broadband and mobile devices continue to reshape the way Americans use the Internet and web. Even as early as 2002, more than eight in ten online adults were using search engines, and more than nine in ten online adults were emailing.
Perhaps the most significant change over that time is that both activities have become more habitual. Today, roughly six in ten online adults engage in each of these activities on a typical day; in 2002, 49% of online adults used email each day, while just 29% used a search engine daily.
For the full report, see http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Search-and-email/Report.aspx?view=all.