One of the ways I hope to keep myself on the professional cutting edge is to offer a fresh perspective on the way content is consumed. One of the best ways I know to gather this information is to watch my kids (11. 0 and 8.5) and their friends as they gather around an iPod or computer.
Today though, I had the chance to go into 8.5’s third grade class and talk her peers. While under the guise of talking to them about journalism and news (which we did a little), I used it as an opportunity to find out how my daughter and her generation seek out and share information.
While it’s not a huge surprise (at least I hope its not), TV, radio, newspapers were not even in the discussion. I was a little surprised-Facebook and Twitter was not either. There are a lot of reasons for the latter-responsible parents is my hope, but the reality is 8-10 is well under the age requirements for those sights.
However, based on the discussion-text, text chat, video chat and especially search are far more important anyway.
On the discovery side-when I asked a class of 20 or so third graders how they find things out-and things I defined as news, information, websites, songs, videos, movies and entertainment-search was the number one way to find things. And when I pressed the kids, they didn’t care what the search engine was (Google was as good as Yahoo was as good as iTunes search). All they need is a search box and an execution point.
The quick take away on this is to over tag if necessary, but make sure tags capture all the keys to the content and all the imaginable entry points. While I am among the people who believe SEO, as we know it today is a dying art, the reality is SEO will continue to be a discoverability driver in some form. (An interesting note, one of the kids wanted to know about a way to search content shared via text chat, hmmmm).
On the consumption side, once again search was a huge driver to finding content. One of the girls in the class even talked about setting up an RSS homepage-similar to Pageflakes or MyGoogle to capture key elements. But a huge consumption driver for text and video is images. It’s a concept I am late to embrace but important. In the digital clutter, you still need to capture eyeballs. See any of the e-book stores (Amazon, B&N, iBooks). Which books are you likely to purchase if you are just scanning a topic? Eye-catching cover art is the driver.
Finally, when it comes to sharing information text, text chat chat (including video chat) was the focus. One boy in the class said (and his classmates agreed), “I can send an email, but no one reads email,” from the mouths of 8+s comes great truth. Email has been a dying medium for more than five years now.
The take away here is to make sure your packaging includes interoperability to share via text-because that is a key driver to reach the generation that is not tethered by Blackberry Enterprise Server, Outlook Exchange or Gmail on the go.