Internet Psychology from Graham Jones

Welcome to another weekly digest of material from my website Enjoy. you wouldn’t be flying anywhere. Without the imagination of J.K.Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing would be a lot poorer. And without the imagination of Sir Tim Berners-Lee who gave us the web, you wouldn’t be reading this. Imagination is immensely powerful. Indeed, therapists will tell you that one technique used is to get people to imagine the future life they want. When they truly, deeply imagine that future, the patients are able to reach it. Without imagining such a future, it seems we don’t succeed as well as we might. Imagination helps you get where you want to be. New research on imagination from psychologists in Sweden shows that it is a complex brain system whereby sounds and images combine in such a way that we can believe an imagined thing to be real. What the research demonstrated was that if you imagine something it actually changes your perception of other sensory input. The Swedish scientists were able to demonstrate that the brain signals that were produced from imagination combined with the brain signals from actual perception to produce a combined experience. This is an important finding for business. It means that people can perceive your products and services as something slightly different to what they see – if you add in some imagination stimulus of some kind. For instance, go to a Hard Rock Café and you’ll find yourself surrounded with rock star memorabilia. No longer are you just eating burger and chips, you are doing it in the company of Eric Clapton, John Lennon and Madonna. Imagine for a moment that you are sitting in your favourite restaurant, surrounded by your best friends and all the family members you love. You are sharing a fantastic meal with your favourite food and drink and everyone is having a lovely time. It is a fantastic warm and sunny day to match the warmth and sunshine in your heart. You don’t have a care in the world and you aren’t even worried about paying the bill because you have no debts and your income is topped-up every few minutes thanks to your wonderfully successful online business that just seems to attract people to spend money with you easily. In short, life for you today is absolutely perfect – at least in this imaginary world. For some people, of course, this is all a dream. It is something that some “Internet Marketing Gurus” try to get you to believe, that you can have this idyllic life, if only you bought their ebook…! But are they tapping into something potentially useful? The power of our brains to imagine things has been essential to business success, after all. Without the imagination of the Wright Brothers

Imagine this – your website is a huge success

So how can your business use the power of human imagination to give people a new experience?

You only need an average website

New research shows that this averaging out process in our brain also happens with auditory information. People were able to say what the average tone was from a series of tones presented in a logarithmic scale, making it hard to determine where the middle was. It is just more confirmation that averaging out things in our brains is a common, convenient method of making our mental functioning straightforward. It means that when we look at a website we already have an averaged out schema that says “this is a website”. We know what a website looks like, what it feels like and how it functions. We have averaged that out from our experience of thousands of web pages. For web designers and business owners this means there is a potential danger in being too clever and trying anything to fancy. If someone produces a website which is too far removed from our average experience then people won’t recognise it as a “normal” website. Far from trying to look different, on the web there is an advantage in trying to look similar.

When you were born it took you just moments to recognise your mother. Indeed, even with eyes that do not function well for several weeks, babies can detect the difference between their mother’s face and the midwife’s face within 20 minutes of birth. This puzzled psychologists for years until they worked out that the baby is not really looking at the entire face of mum. Instead they look at a few areas of the face – the eyes and the mouth mostly. It seems that even without being able to properly focus, or see well in colour, new born babies can detect the distance between the eyes and the mouth and can determine when this is different when they see another face. But don’t think this is just a skill of newborns that we give up when we become more sophisticated. Far from it; even adults use only a small number of features in faces to recognise them. We don’t look at the whole face, but key features. The rest we just “average” out from our experience of faces generally. And we can do even more than that. If you are asked to look at a crowd scene, within moments you can say what kind of people are in the picture. You have “averaged” all the faces to say something like “they are all white, middle class teenagers”. You don’t have to check every single face – you simply check a few and then scan the rest, averaging out what you see to help you come to a conclusion. The human brain has a remarkable capability of averaging things out – it means we can absorb just a small set of data and then construct a much more complex picture of things based on past experiences and what psychologists call “schemas” – inbuilt reference kits for interpreting what we see. For instance, how many different kinds of table are there in the world? Some have four legs, some have six legs, some have one leg. Some are round, some are square, some are rectangular. Some are tall, some are short. Some are made of wood, some are made of metal, some are made of glass. Gosh – can you imagine all the combinations? If your brain had to store all the different kinds of tables so that you could recognise one when you saw it your brain would need ages to go through the list until it found one and you could say “aha, it’s a four-legged, metal and glass coffee table”. So what we do is average out all the tables we have come across into a “schema” of a table. Then when we see a new kind of table we have never seen before, we can quickly say it is a table because it matches that averaged out, generalised schema.

Blogging is a winner and a loser for your website
Source: blogging-is-a-winner-and-a-loser-for-your-website.html

Blogging undoubtedly helps bring more traffic to your website. There is enough evidence from a wide variety of sources to demonstrate that. Indeed, there is plenty of support for the notion that Google itself prefers sites that have blogs. Of course, it is not really about “blogs” as such. Rather it is about adding fresh, new, original and interesting content to your website. You might call it “news” or “updates” or whatever, instead of “blog” but the principle is the same. But how often should you add fresh content? Research by the Inbound Marketing company, Hubspot, shows that the more often you add new content to your website (or blog) the more traffic you get and the more leads you generate. Now, the results of an experiment by the website LogMyCalls has added to the debate about the frequency of blogging. They have been testing the impact of writing three blog posts every day. They checked things over a 200 day period (almost the entire working year). The impact was dramatic. In the first 100 days of the experiment, website traffic generated by search engines went up by 3,489%….! Yes, you read that correctly. Significantly, website traffic that was “direct”, whereby people typed in the website address having “heard about it” somehow also went up by 288%. And the amount of traffic coming from links went up by an astonishing 1,435%.


These are stunning figures, confirming the effect that blogging has, which Hubspot have been saying for years and which has also been part of my mantra too. The LogMyCalls data is also backed up by their Alexa ranking statistics, which show a steady and significant rise in “reach” over the period of the experiment. (Reach is the percentage of all the users of the Internet who actually see your website.) What this all does is back up the notion that blogging is a real winner in terms of getting website traffic. But…you knew there was a but, didn’t you? Take a look at the bounce rate for LogMyCalls over the period of their experiment.

It is yet more evidence that regular, several times a day blogging is vital to online success.

Mobile generation are actually couch potatoes

The number of people landing on a page and then disappearing after reading that one page has trebled over the past year. The number of people visiting the site has gone up dramatically, but so too has the proportion of people bouncing out. Equally, the Alexa data shows that over the time of the experiment the amount of time spent by each visitor on the LogMyCalls website has also plummeted. Now, we have to take this all with a pinch of statistical salt. Alexa is only estimated data, based on educated guesswork. Only LogMyCalls can really tell us what is happening with their site. Even so, the Alexa data does match what happens with other sites when they increase their blogging or content production generally. They tend to get people who are attracted by the headline of the new piece of content who then visit the site as a result, but are less interested in what else it has to offer. In other words, blogging – or adding new pieces of content to your website each day – is also a losing strategy because it brings you thousands of visitors who aren’t the least bit interested in what you do or offer. However, take another look at the LogMyCalls data. True, the bounce rate has risen dramatically. But it is a bounce rate within a much higher total of visits. Back in 2012, before the experiment, Alexa reckoned the bounce rate as around 10%. That is 10% of almost 4000% less traffic overall. Now, the bounce rate is around 50% of that much, much higher traffic. Let’s look at that in mythical numbers because I don’t know the LogMyCalls actual number of visits. Let’s imagine that in 2012 they had 100 visits a month and 10% of these bounced, giving them 90 potentially useful visits. After the experiment, the 100 visits would go up by 4,000% to 4,100 visits, yet 50% of these would be bounces, leaving them with 2,050 useful visitors, instead of a paltry 90. So, what does this really tell us? It suggests that if you do dramatically increase your content output you will significantly increase your traffic – but a large slice of that traffic will be useless to you. You win and you lose. However, the rise in traffic from increased content production is so vast, that useless traffic is not worth worrying about.

Have you seen any mobile phone adverts lately? They’d all have us believe that people are forever on their smartphones, busy clicking on apps while they are out at the shops, or in a restaurant or on the beach. Indeed “Internet Gurus” are fond of telling us that a whole “new way” of engaging with the web is taking place and that the future is mobile. Gosh, I have even said as much. Meanwhile, retail experts are telling us that the High Street needs to change to accommodate the growing trend for “showrooming” whereby people come into a store, check out the goods on offer and then buy them from the Internet using their mobile. In fact, almost everywhere you look for Internet retail advice these days, you’ll find someone explaining it is all mobile. But it isn’t. The statistics are lying. The data is conclusive, however. More and more people are using mobile devices to buy things online. However, the “experts” appear to have made an assumption. They assume that because the device is mobile, so is the user. But new research shows that this is not the case. Two thirds of online purchases made using a mobile device are made from within the home of the owner of that smartphone. In other words, the people are not mobile at all; they are using their mobiles from their sofas. This means many retailers may need to re-think the language on their websites. There is a lot of talk about “mobile convenience” and being “in store”. Maybe this should all be refocused into “from the comfort of your armchair” because that is where most of the mobile buyers are. This study is yet another indication that people are quick to jump on so-called “big data” trends, when actually analysing human behaviour is more worthwhile.


Social networks could be the worst place to advertise

low in “need for cognition”. In other words, negative advertising only appears to work for people who don’t know much and don’t care much either. And they are in short supply on social networks, meaning that the traditional advertising mantra is probably not fit for use in the social media world.

You are already thinking negative things about advertising on social networks. How do I know? Well that’s because the headline above has “framed” your thinking. It uses negative wording and sets your “frame of mind”. I then further underlined that with an “instruction” in the first sentence, telling you what you are thinking and also associating the word “negative” with “social networks”. Framing is a technique used by advertisers, teachers, motivational speakers and anyone who wants to persuade you of something. Your partner does it at home, no doubt. They want to achieve something, such as getting you to cut the grass, knowing you don’t really have the time to do it. So they start a conversation about the plans for the coming weekend and how your mother is looking forward to seeing the children and so on. Your partner paints a lovely picture of a glorious weekend with the family, in the sunshine, in the garden. You start to picture it and imagine what a lovely weekend it will be because the family hasn’t been together in ages. Then, just as you are feeling all warm and enthusiastic for the weekend ahead, your partner points out that the grass is rather long and with the weather forecast for the week ahead it is bound to grow even more. The chances are you will now find the time to cut the grass; that’s because the job of grass cutting is positively framed in the lovely family weekend. Prior to your partner chatting to you, the grass cutting was negatively framed in your time pressures. Interesting new research has looked at one aspect of framing in terms of social networks. The research from Taiwan investigated the reaction of people to adverts on social networks and considered this in relation to whether the advertising messages were negatively or positively framed. The study also looked at whether the visitors to these social sites were people who exhibited a psychological factor of personality called “need for cognition”. Essentially, this means whether or not they were people who pay close attention to what is being said. The research found that when people had a high “need for cognition” they were most likely to be attracted to positively framed messages. This is the complete reverse of what advertisers are taught. They are told that they should focus on a problem that needs solving – a negative framing. But as the Taiwan study showed, this only has an impact on people with low knowledge of the topic and who are

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