Many people, including yours truly, find the turn of the calendar year to be a comforting reminder of new beginnings and second chances. This inspires us to re-visit our objectives, draft fresh plans and – hopefully – learn from past mistakes. Whatever our ambition, the start of a new year offers a rare opportunity to make a mental break with the past and focus on the blank canvas of time that lies ahead.
This year, apart from the typical health-related resolutions of going to the gym, cycling to work, losing ten pounds etc, many people in my network were talking about how they resolve to spend their time in 2015.
Time is recognised as a precious commodity, yet most of us are guilty of spending it ways that are less than ideal. We want to spend more time with our family and loved ones, we want to dedicate time to doing the things that enrich us and we want to work fewer hours or perhaps improve our output rate so we feel less stressed.
“So what?”, you may think.
“What is so new about this?”
Well, the basic desire to spend more time enjoying life is in itself nothing new. However, one aspect of our lifestyles which is becoming exposed as a major time thief, is the smartphone.
Where once TV used to be recognised as the big culprit in absorbing our time, smartphones have now surpassed it and become the biggest device for consuming media at an average of 2 hours and 57 minutes in 2014 according to Businessweek.com.
The big difference here is that although a time thief, TV can still be enjoyed with other people – whereas smartphones are all about the individual. Your mobile device is a window which nobody else is looking through, only you. This means that as a smartphone user, you can be sitting in the same room as ten other people, but nobody else will be sharing your media experience. The device is not only absorbing your time – it is absorbing other people’s time with you. (Did you ever try to have a conversation with someone who’s playing Candy Crush Saga?)
As a result of the distractional effect that smartphones are having on our modern lives, many people are now resolving to spend less “dead” time on their devices. The discerning smartphone user will choose to not pick up the phone and check Facebook every time they are bored, but instead approach their online experience the way they would a gourmet restaurant. They know their “funds” are limited, so they will carefully consider how they wish to spend them.
If sparking up Facebook every fifteen minutes is the tech equivalent to eating your daily meals at McDonald’s, then the gourmet may choose to replace this with a more nourishing experience such as a TED talk, in-depth article or language course a couple of times a day. The user would not necessarily spend less time on their device, but they would pay more attention to when they use it, how often and what the defined purpose is.
This of course has bearings on the marketing landscape.
It means we as marketers need to pay closer attention to the behavioural patterns of the user, as well as help them achieve the rich, nourishing experience they desire through delivering quality content, responsive and clear messaging in a format which is respectful of the user’s time.
Now – that’s enough talk about resolutions.
Let’s go create some plans to make them happen!