It’s been said that the key to becoming an expert in any field is to practice that specific task for 10,000 hours. But that’s a lot of time and your schedule is tight, so instead of dumping that workload on you, we talk to the experts, glean the most valuable morsels of their expertise, then condense that knowledge into one informative and entertaining 10-minute nugget. This time we’re talking with Graham Jones, an English author, public speaker, and Internet Psychologist! He’s written more than 30 books and his website is all about understanding what makes the average web surfer tick–or click. In fact his latest book, “Clickology”, breaks down the science of online shopping.
“Internet Psychologist” is really one of those terms that jumps at you. Can you tell me what it means?
It means I am a psychologist who specializes in understanding how people behave online and how they use the Internet and how the Internet affects our thinking.
Is the mindset of the typical web surfer changing?
That depends on what you mean by “mindset” and what you mean by “typical”. The Internet is affecting our behaviour in subtle ways, such as making us nicer to each other, but in general it is not changing our minds as much as some might think.
As an expert in how people use the online world, in particular how they engage with businesses, can you share some observations about Internet users with us? Anything that might be a surprise?
Internet users tend to want immediate answers. The demand for instant gratification has increased in recent years, along with a reduction in attention spans. This means if a website does not please people immediately, they will leave. For businesses this requires a wholesale change in approach.
What’s a common misconception that companies have about their customers/users?
Research has consistently shown for many years – indeed prior to the Internet – that businesses generally fail to understand their customers. Online, businesses think they understand their customers because they have immense amounts of data; more than ever before. Yet when you ask customers why they visited a website, the data cannot reveal that. And when you ask businesses what their customers want from their website, they usually have no idea, or if they do it is a completely different idea compared with asking their customers. In other words, few businesses actually understand their customers at all.
What kind of informational nuggets will someone take away from one of your workshops?
It depends on which workshop, of course, because I run several on a variety of Internet topics. However, people who attend my workshops tell me that I have explained the use of the Internet in a way that no technical person has ever done which makes them completely re-think their online presence.
Should every company have a Facebook and Twitter page? And how active does it need to be?
No. You should only have pages on Twitter or Facebook if they are relevant to you, your customers, your suppliers or any other group you are trying to engage with. Activity generally needs to be considerably higher than most businesses are prepared for; multiple times a day is required.
At what age do you think it’s appropriate for a young person to open up a social media account? “Puberty before profile picture” sounds like a pretty good mantra to me, but maybe I’m old fashioned.
How can a company increase online customer satisfaction?
There are several different ways depending on what kind of company you are and what kind of customers; there is no “one size fits all” approach to customer service. The only generalization I can make is that you should make sure you treat every person who visits your site as an individual.
The title of one of your articles caught my eye: “Online advertising needs to be boring to succeed.” Why?
That particular article was about the fact that research shows that jazzy, bright, flashy advertising is largely ignored by people because of the extent of the differences. Part of our brain loves similarities and the adverts on Google, for instance, are all the same. They succeed much more than the adverts that are different. Sometimes, being strikingly different works against businesses.
Amazingly, you’re the author of more than 30 books. Sadly, in my entire life, I’ve read 13. Can you use your psychology skills to make me feel better about this blatant discrepancy?
The fact is you have read more than 13 books, without realizing it. Every day you read thousands of words online, which means each week web users are reading a book’s worth of text. That means last year you must have read over 50 books – so hopefully you feel better now!
Wow, I actually do. Thanks, Graham! When not dissecting the mind of the average web surfer, Graham Jones is living a pretty interesting life, including the dissecting of a human body, singing on a record that made the charts, and accidentally interrupting Margaret Thatcher.