What motivates us is very revealing and provides a key indication on behaviour and the ways to tailor things to maximise involvement. Have you ever thought about why you go online? Maybe it is for finding out about things to buy, perhaps to find music or increasingly to chat to friends.

I’m guessing you haven’t given it much thought. But if you work in online business, this information is important. The primary reasons for us using the web dictate the success of web platforms online, why campaign ideas work and the future direction of web behaviour. Also they show us whether consumer involvement in social media has peaked or if we are still at the start of consumer driven revolution.

The UK results on motivations were pretty clear and also explain why we get the web behaviour we do. Despite the revolution in consumer content and networking, Internet usage in the UK is still extremely task based. The top 3 drivers to get online were “Researching / finding products” (57% Very important), “Researching how to do things” (43% Very important) and “staying up to date on news” (41% Very Important). More amazingly, these were top 3 drivers to use the web regardless of age, gender or attitude. This is important because it shows how fundamentally important it is for any company or brand to actively manage their reputation online and their appearance and presence in search.

Entertainment is still not a top driver despite the emergence of mass market video platforms such as YouTube and the growing professional video presence from services such as iPlayer, Sky and ITV. This shows that we have some way to go before the web can claim the mantle from Television as the way we spend our evenings winding down. This will undoubtedly shift over time, however it also suggests, if this is to happen quickly, the way the Internet delivers video will have to be repackaged to be more like the Television interface.

Looking at the key drivers for social media show with clarity why our involvement has emerged the way it has. The top driver for social media is “stay in touch with friends”, which shows why Facebook tapped into our fundamental needs from the web. Less important is the proactive desire to keep others up to date, and then share opinions, meet new people and lastly sharing content. This ranking of desires show why blogging has failed to grow into the mainstream and why Twitter, despite all the hype remains a tool of the digital in crowd. The vast majority of users currently just want to connect in a relatively simple way. Of course things are changing, but perhaps not as quickly as the hype suggests.

There are also very interesting differences by gender and age; Women are far more likely to want to stay in touch with friends, 49% state it as very important versus just 27% for men, however there is no difference by age. What does vary is the need to proactively keep friends up to date with my life, 27% of 18-34s stated this as an important driver, while just 14% of 55+ did. This shows that younger users are more proactive in their involvement. When it comes to contributing there is also a large age skew, with 13% of 18-34s saying that Sharing content is important, while just 3% of 55+ agreed. However when it comes to sharing opinion, an almost identical number, 16% of all age groups agreed.

This is important because it shows that the model of social media involvement, with passive consumption of video and blogs leading the way, then social networking and then more involved forms of content creation and sharing, such as blogging, video creation and Micro-blogging (Twitter) may have hit its peak in terms of mass market uptake. It also shows how the web (at least in the UK) for the mass market is about enhancing existing contacts, not building a new digital network. For the online professional, this is not just nice to know, it shows how to get users to interact and contribute to your site or campaign. If you are targeting a younger audience, content sharing and contribution will work, while an older audience must be more orientated around opinions.”

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