Avoid "Digital Denial" In 2011

As we enter this New Year, it’s time to address an affliction that is holding too many communicators back. I call it “Digital Denial.”

It’s a clinging to the past and a refusal to grasp just how much things have changed in the past few years. It may be hard to believe just how different the ways in which information is communicated and shared have changed in the past five years, but it must be believed.

If you still think “the Internet is taking over,” “young people really seem to enjoy social networks,” “smart phones are the wave of the future” and other head-in-the-sand quotes we hear on a regular basis, it’s time to get out of “Digital Denial” and face the facts.

In just the past few weeks, the facts have presented themselves. Here’s a story that shows, among other things, that time spent on the Web is up 121 percent in just the past five years. 35 percent of all Americans use social networking sites, more than double the number from just three years ago.

Another study finds that Americans spend as much time looking at their mobile devices (many of them Web enabled cell phones) – 50 minutes per day – as they do reading newspapers and magazines combined. Communicating via cell as “more than a phone” isn’t the future – it’s happening now.

Traditional media content is still being consumed, just in new ways – on screens of various sizes. The Internet isn’t “taking them over,” as deniers like to believe. The Internet is how you are gaining access to that content. Traditional media brands still get the clicks (now if they could only profit from that…).

So in this New Year, as you consider communications strategies, think about how your publics will consume the content you want them to think about. Don’t just think of how you used to get your information or even how you get it today. Get out of “Digital Denial” and put yourself in your target’s technology frame of mind or find someone who can do that for you.