I live a digital life. I don’t mean that I’m involved in digital media, though I am (hey, you’re reading this, right, and you probably got here via Facebook, Twitter, or Google). I mean that my first instinct to discover, research, connect or share now involves digital platforms. Cases in point:
I saw a tweet by Heather Caliendo on Twitter about the movie Inception last Friday. It was positive, and I know and like Heather and more importantly, respect her opinions and know she has high standards for smart stories. So, when my husband and I considered a movie on Saturday night, guess what we saw? Yep… Inception, based in large part on Heather’s tweet to the world. I’ve not seen Heather in months, since she’s moved to Colorado, but our relationship matters to me regardless of our “face-to-face” interaction (or lack thereof).
I recently dropped my iPhone into a toilet. It suffered a severe case of PTSD (Post Toilet Submergance Dysfunction) and then died. Through my digital friendship with Bobby Rettew, who sympathized with my phoneless plight and had also recently upgraded to an iPhone 4, I became the very happy owner of his lovely 3G S phone. I’ve never met Bobby in person, though we keep threatening to make that happen. However, I consider him a friend, not just a “friend” in the Facebook sense of the word.
On a trip through southeast Kansas over the weekend, we stopped in Pittsburg to eat dinner. I used my UrbanSpoon app to check out possibilities and we discovered some awesome Italian food at a place called Napoli’s, located on Broadway in Pittsburg. I posted via Foursquare & shared the post to Facebook that we’d really enjoyed our visit. A FB friend, local to the area and someone I’ve not seen in person for many years, said they’d been hesitant to try it, but now they might after hearing our experience.
What is the point of all this? Digital relationships matter. People do pay attention. The relevance quotient for digital relationships is high…. I didn’t do a Google search for restaurants in Pittsburg since I didn’t want to know about all of them… just the good ones. I didn’t buy a phone from Craigslist because I depend (and Crossroads Communications depends) on my phone for my business and I trusted Bobby. And the movie… we see maybe two or three a year. So we choose carefully… and Heather is a writer. She knows a good story when she sees one. Her recommendation elevated Inception to the level of “worth spending one of our two movie nights left this year on” status.
Relevance is the engine that drives our digital decisions. The future of the web as a connection medium lies not in creating more information nor in more platforms for sharing information. It lies in better ways for relevant information to be funneled to the people who care about it. When you think about how to use the web to drive business, or use social media, or anything else “2.0″ related, start with answering the question, “Who cares?” because that forces the question of relevance. It’s not about creating buzz, or getting hits, or driving traffic… it’s about nurturing relationships that allow your offering, be it information or an iPhone, to become relevant to a very specific set of consumers at exactly the right time. THAT is what translates digital interest into business or brand success.