How We Use The Internet in 2014

Who remembers the popularity of AOL in the 90’s, say around 1995? I can still remember to sound of the dial-up connection when logging on! While most (not everyone!) do not have an AOL account and have since switched to broadband connections, people are still using the Internet to find information and stay connected to others. However, the ways in how they are doing this have changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Read on as we explore some of the biggest ways the Internet is used in 2014.

We Use it Everyday

According to a report by the Pew Research Center, 87% of people use the Internet every single day, compared to only 14% in 1995. We see it in businesses, restaurants, schools, literally EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME! But when you think about how dependent we are on computers to do daily tasks, it is not surprising that the Internet is so widely used now. In addition, a majority of American households now have access to the Internet, seeing it as a necessity for everyday life.

TV and Movies

Companies like Youtube and Netflix are giant successes involving the Internet media industry. Where in the 90s, you would have to wait until your favorite TV show or movie came out on VHS or DVD to watch again, now you just make a few clicks on these sites, and your can binge watch for hours and hours. There are literally thousands of videos available for streaming (at a price) on these sites, and they have made it so easy for the average user to access whatever they want to watch. And isn’t it amazing that you can stream videos to your phone and TV now!?

Social Media

Over the past 10 years, sites like Facebook and Twitter have engaged Internet users like never before. Yes, AOL Instant Messenger was a type of social media and did exist prior to this, but not on the scale that social media sites do now. We are more connected to each other than ever, making it so much easier to stay in touch. It’s no longer difficult to communicate with an old college buddy when you can just friend them on Facebook or follow them on Instagram. And teens use social media to stay even closer to friends they probably see everyday. It’s a one-stop shop to sharing pictures, videos, stories, and events that are happening to you or those around you.

Spreading Negativity

Unfortunately, with the good of the Internet also comes the bad. With the increase of social media and spreading of readily available information, negative commenting has become a common practice on sites. Say a story is published about a hot button topic on a news site. While it might be a harmless op-ed piece, you might find the most hateful and terrible words being written in the comments section. People often view the Internet as a place to air their dirty laundry and throw caution to the wind regarding what is appropriate to say to another person. And since you don’t have to see this person face-to-face to say these things, it is easier to be mean or candid. This especially occurs when opposing viewpoints are expressed.

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5 Ways To Increase Reader Engagement On Your Site

Marketing your website is all about people. What do the people want to read about? What is your audience interested in? Filling your pages with a jumbled mess of ads and distracting icons is not the way to keep your readers interested. Remember…quality over quantity. In addition, we concentrate so much on the number of clicks and page views that we are forgetting how to get the audience to the site and keep them there in the first place. Think about what makes them want to visit your pages. Let’s get back to the basics and explore 5 ways to truly increase reader engagement.

1. Be A Social Butterfly

With social media being so popular, it is important to include places on your pages to share the content you are writing. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. are all avenues to get your content out there for other people to see. Your current audience is your best advertisement, as word of mouth is still the most valuable asset in growing a website/business. Sharing on social media creates a loyal fan base and builds long term readers. You also want to reach out to them socially too, through replying to comments or answering questions. Being social is literally a 2-way street!

2. Write What Readers Want To Read

The most vital part of your site is the content. But how to know what content to have can be tricky. Basically, to engage readers to the content, you need to: answer a specific question they have, and bring insight to something they are interested in. Furthermore, depth is truly going to make the difference between you and just another site offering the same ole information. Write something insightful, exclusive, and not just a “summary” that offers nothing new. Stand out by being unique.

3. Make the Content Flow

You have to make it easy for visitors to be on your site. The pages should be simple to navigate and provide nice transitions from one place to the next. Add multiple links that connect similar pages or products, don’t have A TON of words on a page (add in some graphics), and just try to make the pages aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, make sure the design and function of the site and its content shows up correctly in multiple forms of browsing. Use larger fonts and contrasting colors to make the words “pop.” Since a lot of people use the Internet on their smartphones, mobile compatibility of your pages is so important. You will lose visitors if they can’t see the content the way its meant to be seen.

4. Speed Up Loading Times

Nothing will turn off a visitor faster than a super slow loading page. The Internet is all about instant gratification, and not many are willing to wait around for a page to show up. They will just move on. Evaluate your site for image size, unnecessary scripts, and energy zapping ads that take up so much broadband width. You may even want to design the site to be super responsive so that it loads quickly on all types of devices, specifically mobile.

5. Be Consistent and Reliable

If you have a lot of reader engagement, that’s great! Now just keep it! Do you post a new article/product/blog entry once every 3 days? Then you better not take an unexplained 4 week hiatus and leave your readers in limbo. If readers feel they can trust you to consistently provide new content that is interesting to them, they will keep coming back. Figuring out the best times to post and sticking with the same schedule (weekly, daily, or whatever) will create loyalty and keep readers coming back for more.

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