What Online Behavior Reveals About Digital Culture: Identifying Themes and Interpreting Them For Insight

Christian Kugel

Ellen Bird

INTRODUCTION

The Internet was invented to be a participative medium. Without individuals participating, its value plummets. The Internet sans people influencing it simply makes no sense. Over the past five years, however, this attribute has been magnified by the birth and adoption of social media. Social platforms such as video sharing, blogging, networking and photo sharing (just to name just a few) have truly revolutionized people's digital experience. Social tools are built into nearly every site – people have come to expect the ubiquity of the upload button, the comment field, and the “share this” icon.

Digital marketing trends have clearly followed the migration to social experiences. It is the rare brand that does not have presence in multiple social environments or infuse its digital assets with social functionality. As content diversified to include a richer mix of user-generated material, and as social platform-enabled sharing became common, a distinct digital culture emerged – a culture rooted in the act of participation. Increasingly, we believe that understanding, internalizing and aligning with digital culture will be a price of entry for crafting successful digital marketing initiatives. Just as conventional advertising must recognize and address cultural cues, digital marketing will increasingly be compelled to do so as well. The initiative described here was designed to help an agency network keep its finger on the pulse of digital culture and arm every employee with an understanding of the themes, characteristics and nuances of this ever evolving, dynamic subject.