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Internet Psychology from Graham Jones

Welcome to another weekly digest of material from my website grahamjones.co.uk. Enjoy. For business owners this is of special importance online. In the olden days before the web came along, most businesses did not have to take into account cultural variation. Most companies worked within a relatively small area and understood how people ticked. And if they did stray outside their locality, business leaders took time to find out about these external marketplaces. Now, though, a company in Germany can share its wares with people in Greece, Spain or even South Korea. The global nature of the web means that your business is now working in a multicultural world. And that can cause problems. For instance, in general terms the West is much more focused on the individual, whereas Asian cultures are much more focused on the community. If your website demonstrates it is about the individual, your ability to sell in Asia could be limited. This has been brought to light in new research about the images which appear on Facebook. It seems that the profile pictures of people in the Western World are mainly faces focused on the individual themselves. However, people from Asia tend to minimise the self in those images, often including themselves as part of a much broader scene. Even those small profile pictures on social networks reflect the culture of the people taking part. Interestingly, though, the study also found that when people moved from one country to another such as Asian people moving to the USA to study their Facebook pictures were changed to reflect the culture they now inhabited. Similar effects have been discovered with diet Japanese people who move to the USA start eating more meat and less fish, for instance. The old adage of when in Rome appears to actually take place. But heres the problem for businesses. When you build a website you are doing so from within your own culture and it will therefore reflect the way you think and behave within that culture. But what if you want more business outside your immediate locality? This new research suggests you need to think carefully about the images your website contains so that they reflect your target culture. Even in the USA you can see constant tensions between one set of cultural values in the deep south and the more relaxed lifestyles of California and New York, for instance. One country, several cultures. What you can do in California without any real concerns could get people calling for your execution in Texas. Whether you look at the differing approaches to the way of life in the USA, or the varying ways the Eurozone approaches financial matters, one thing is for sure: societies vary even within relatively short distances. Once more, it is research which confirms you need to focus all your thoughts on your audience.
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You need to match your target culture in website photos


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Watching the European financial crisis unfold is a fascinating observation of clashing cultures. The Germans want other countries to stick to a rigid set of rules, whereas the Greeks and Spanish people are asking for things to be more relaxed. The different viewpoints on the financial meltdown are indicative of the various approaches to life within Europe. In fact, if anyone thought monetary union was really a long-term possibility they also probably thought that cultural differences could be ironed out.

Facebook photos may reflect unconscious cultural differences (esciencenews.com) What does your Facebook photo say about you? (adigaskell.org)

Diamond Queen shows how to run an online business


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update their website very often, or take four days to answer an email. The web is actually littered with businesses who show a lack of dedication to their customers, the people they serve. The Queen, on the other hand, appears totally dedicated to her peoples around the world her customers for her firm. It is a reminder that dedicating yourself to your audience, your customers, your buyers, means that you will enjoy success. Far too many online business owners appear dedicated to THEIR OWN profits, or THEIR OWN success. As Rowan Williams reminded us on Tuesday morning, when you concentrate on the people you are serving, you benefit much more. It is all a poke in the ribs for many online business owners stop focusing on yourself and dedicate your activity to the people you serve.
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The Queen apparently calls the Royal Family The Firm which suggests she treats the whole thing rather like a business. Over the past four days we have seen that business in action. Indeed, in spite of her husband, HRH Prince Philip being admitted to hospital to treat an infection, the Diamond Jubilee activities were not curtailed. In the grand traditions of the kind of business in which the Royal Family work, they clearly thought the show must go on.

Diamond Jubilee: Queen voted favourite monarch of all time Telegraph.co.uk (telegraph.co.uk) For Queen Elizabeth, a Google doodle of diamonds and doggies Christian Science Monitor (csmonitor.com)

Which came first? Social networks or social people?


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You cant miss the advice online these days to take part in social activities. Everywhere you look some business guru or other is saying you must be on Facebook, that you should be Tweeting on the hour, every hour and that if you havent yet started Pinning on Pinterest you are so 2011! Social, social, social the three places where it is at online, apparently. But what if you are not social? What if you are a bit of a loner? What if you find chatting, personalising things and being generally full of bonhomie somewhat daunting? Does that mean the modern world of business is not for you? Is your online future doomed? Of course not. Its just that you need to do things a but differently. And ignore those gurus encouraging you to do something which you dont like or want to do. Indeed, on Tuesday morning The Queen was at St Pauls Cathedral in the City of London listening to The Most Reverend Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury, talk about her dedication to her role. When the then Princess Elizabeth ascended to The Throne she stated she would dedicate her life to serving the peoples of the Commonwealth something she has clearly done for six decades. Even if you are not an ardent Royalist, you cannot help but notice her total dedication to her task. Indeed, take a look at The Court Circular and you will find that HM The Queen and the rest of the Royal Family are involved in several hundreds of events each month. They hardly stop. A recent valuation suggests that the Royal Family firm is worth more than Tesco and Marks & Spencer combined a whopping 44billion. Dedication clearly has a value. But compare the Royal Familys dedication to many websites and online businesses and you see a stark contrast. You see companies which are set up only to be ignored by their owners, clearly hoping the line built it and they will come is actually true. Or there are web firms which run a seemingly successful business, but dont The social web can be a bit of a puzzle Sometimes, people see evidence and make connections with things which are not necessarily all they seem. So, many business experts see the link between social media activity and online
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success and say therefore you need to be fully social online. But do you? New research points out the potential error in the modern business equals social networking theory. The study looked at the cause and effect relationship between family dinners and teenage behaviour. There is plenty of evidence that when families sit down together in the evening and have a meal together that troublesome teens tend to be better behaved. So, politicians and media columnists jump upon such evidence and say we should restore family values and have proper family dinners in order to improve the behaviour of youngsters. Except this new study shows that the relationship between family dinners and childhood behaviour is much more complex than at first sight. It seems the family dinners come about because of other factors in the household attitudes and other behaviours. So it might not be that family dinners lead to good behaviour, it looks like the good behaviour leads to family dinners. It is a reminder that sometimes we get cause and effect muddled. The business experts who reckon we should all be social crazy online may believe that social media leads to more business. But it may be the other way round. It may be that increased business activity leads to more online social activity. Which came first, chicken or egg? In a masterclass I run for business owners I refer to a research study which purports to show the link between social media activity and profitability. The study connects the two together, suggesting that the cause of the profitability of businesses is the increased social media activity they undertake. SOS Networking Web Success View more PowerPoint from Graham Jones But this research makes the same error as those politicians connecting family dinners to improved behaviour. It believes there is cause and effect. However, when you look at the kinds of companies which achieve success it is more about overall attitudes, lack of autocratic leadership and encouragement of independence of thought amongst staff which leads to the success of the business. There is no doubt that people do well online thanks to social media. There is no doubt that it can lead to profits. There is no doubt that business experts link the two with a cause and effect relationship. However, the family dinner study should be a reminder that there is doubt that online social activity inevitably leads to business success. It is much more complex than many people would have you believe and is wrapped up in personality typing, attitudes, corporate cultures and leadership styles. You need to focus on all those things first, before social networking can really help your business.
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Choose your social networking friends with care


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Are you a couch potato or are you out running every morning or at keep-fit classes most weeks? The chances are, if you are a couch potato, most of your close friends are also slobbing out in the evenings too. And if you are a fitness fanatic, your buddies are also likely to exercise a lot. Your physical activity is usually roughly the same as that of your closest friends. Similarly, your salary or your business income is likely to be roughly the same as your closest mates too. There is plenty of research which shows that if you change social groups you tend to their average in any measure.

So if you want to lose weight, change your friends to people who enjoy losing weight. If you want to make more money, get to know more millionaires. Every social group, it seems, tends to produce norms. If you want to effect a change in your life, it can usually best be done by changing your social group. And thats why change is tough you dont want to lose your friends or give up being with them, so you stick with them and that means you dont change. Children are much the same they join a social group and then become that group. They like the same things, do the same things and their behaviour averages out. If you want to change your childs behaviour you need to alter their social group. Look in any school playground and the active children will all be together, while the bookish ones are also together. Like attracts like. So, when it comes to dealing with common childhood issues, often the resolution is in splitting groups up, leading to all kinds of trouble. Take, for instance, the epidemic of childhood obesity. Fat children have other fat children as mates. Even if you can get the obese child to try to lose weight, they give up because their friends arent doing it. In other words, the social group tends towards its norm. If you want fat children to lose weight, they need to be in a social group with thin children, perhaps those underweight. The social group will then get a new norm with the obese child losing weight as a result. You can see this kind of theory in a recent study highlighted in the medical journal Pediatrics which looked at levels of physical activity in after-school groups of young children. What the researchers found was that children tended to do more physical

Social Media, Memetics, and Cognitve Science Social Media Day Is June 30. How Will You Celebrate? (mashable.com) Parents and Grads: Heres the Social Media Conversation You Need to Have (mashable.com) Study: Women use social media more than men (prdaily.com)

activity if their four closest friends also did a lot of physical activity. In other words, the group normed. So, if you want to increase your income, hang out with people online who earn more than you. If you want better search engine ranking, connect with people who are better at it than you. And if you want to lose weight, stick with thin people! The social norming effect will mean that you will adjust your behaviour to reach the common ground of the group. Sometimes you dont get the results you want with your online business simply because you have the wrong friends!
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The chances are, as companies move away from face-to-face contact they will see their costs fall, but will also see their profits fall as they generate less business because they dont understand their customers as well as they did when they went to real meetings. As your competitors take up the social media cudgels, you could look the other way and increase your face-to-face activity. It could bring you much better long-term results.

Friends Influence (children.webmd.com)

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Social Media, Memetics, and Cognitve Science Google Search Just Got 1,000 Times Smarter (mashable.com)

Start going out more


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Dramatic figures released by IBM show that companies are replacing face-to-face contact with social media and interactive websites. There has been a whopping great 256% increase in use of social media by companies in the past year. And during that time, face-to-face contact has reduced by 13%. As companies do more online social interaction, so they are reducing the time taken out of the office for face-to-face contact.

At first sight this might seem highly sensible. After all, face-to-face contact requires two resources in short supply these days, time and money. Social networking activity can be much more productive and cost-effective. You can see why chief executives want their employees to use more social media than ever before. But is it a wise move? A survey by Gallup might suggest otherwise. This study shows that what matters to a companys bottom line is how well engaged they are with their customers. The more deeply you know them, the better, it seems. Indeed, your profits go up if you really, truly, deeply understand your customers. And how are you going to do that using Twitter or Facebook? The fact is, social media can extend existing relationships and help create new ones, but to ensure those are engaging, lasting and deep relationships there is nothing to beat face-to-face contact.