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Online forums are good for you

Group of people in forumAs you read this, millions of people are busy chatting away in forums somewhere online. They may be taking part in traditional forums, or in LinkedIn Groups or Facebook Groups, for instance. Whatever system they are using, online discussions are undeniably popular.

However, many people think they just waste time or that they are filled with spammers or people promoting their wares. New research, though, shows that there are real benefits in taking part in online discussion groups.

The study looked at 273 people across a range of different forums and discussion groups. The forums were divided into two kinds: those which had some stigma attached, such as mental health issues and those which were neutral, such as golf forums.

The University of Exeter researchers found that actively taking part in forums led to greater involvement with others offline, for instance offering help and support in the real world and volunteering for certain activities. In addition, the research found that the people who were the most active in the forums were those who received the greatest increase in personal well-being, as measured by a questionnaire about their feelings and so on.

In other words, this study found that if you take an active part in online forums you benefit from a mental health perspective. You probably also learn things about your topic too. In addition, the study found that actively taking part in forums improves your offline (real world) activity – which almost certainly also has spin-off benefits for your mental health.

This study suggests that far from being places that are inhabited by spammers and snake-oil sales people, online discussion forums are highly valuable both to us as individuals and to the community at large.

It suggests we all ought to take part in online forums for our benefit at least. But there was an important feature in this study that is worthwhile considering. The people who gained the benefits were those who were most active in the forums. That means the adage that you get out what you put in remains true for online forums.

Download the FREE report “Getting the best from online forums”
Category: Internet Psychology

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Stop using the Internet so much if you want to benefit from it

Your mother was right when she said you need your beauty sleep. People who look tired are rated as less attractive as people who appear to be wide awake. Your mum also knew a thing or two when she told you to “sleep on it” when you faced a problem. Even the Dalai Lama agrees; he said “sleep is the best meditation”.

Girl asleep at computer

Now, new research confirms the power of sleep when it comes to trying to learn something. A study by psychologists from the University of London showed that children are able to learn a fictitious language. Central to the study was that participants were allowed to “sleep on it”.

What the research showed was that the brain consolidates what we have learned after a period of sleep. The study focused particularly on embedded rules, not actually taught, but apparent by the use of the fictional language. These grammatical rules were learned only after sleep – even though they had not actually been taught.

Other studies too confirm that your brain is not resting whilst sleeping, but working hard at creating connections between all the things you have done during the day, filing items away, discovering new things from this and creating new neural pathways. It appears that sleep is a vital component in getting our brains working properly.

Internet use disrupts sleep

The problem these days is that the Internet and its associated technology disrupts sleep. Experts in sleep medicine have reported their concerns about the impact of the Internet on sleep, such as its role in the potential for addiction. One study showed an association between the Internet and linked sleep disorders. Another showed a link between daytime sleepiness, resulting from lack of night-time sleep, and Internet usage.

Largely this is all down to the use of screens and monitors which fool our brains into thinking it is perpetually morning time. That means our normal rhythms get disrupted and we cannot sleep properly.

The problem is not just sleepiness at work. The problem is about learning, as this latest study suggests.

When your cannot sleep well, your brain cannot process what you have learned and cannot spot those patterns, rules and concepts which exist.

If you have had trouble, for instance, truly understanding search engine optimisation or pay per click or how to blog effectively, the chances are you haven’t been able to sleep on it.

To be sure to learn and benefit from online technology, the answer is to use it less. That will allow you to get more sleep, you’ll learn more and process more as a result and you will be able to use the Internet more capably during the day.

Your mother was right about the benefits of sleep. She was also right when she said “less is more”. The less you use the Internet the more you could gain from it.

Category: Internet Psychology

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Want to make an impact with your business? Get on TV

There are thousands of ways you can get publicity for your website online. There is search marketing, social media, blogging and a host of other publicity methods. Getting a site to “number one” on Google is a dream for many businesses who spend hour after hour and pound after pound trying to beat the competition – and the system.

Meanwhile, other businesses seem to succeed without ever being number one on Google. Even Google itself is not the “number one” for the phrase “search engine“. Google appears 20th in the list, at the bottom of page 2, well below “DuckDuckGo”, “Yahoo!” or even “Bing”. Yet in spite of this, Google doesn’t appear to be doing that badly. It is not number one for its central business, yet beats the others hands down. Perhaps being number one on Google is not all it is cracked up to be?

However, the word “Google” exists in the “real world”. How many times today will someone say to you “Google it”? How many times will you see the word Google in print, hear it on the radio or TV? How many times will you even think of Google? Yet, in contrast, how many times today will someone say to you “Bing it” or “DuckDuckGo it”? How many times will such phrases be seen in traditional media?

It isn’t ranking in the search engine that appears to count for much. Instead it is ranking in the real world.

This has been thrown into the spotlight now that new research has shown how much time we engage with the Internet compared with other electronic media. According to Nielsen, Americans spend 11 hours a day using electronic media. But almost two thirds of that time is spent with traditional electronic media – TV and Radio.

Chart showing media usage

Only just over an hour a day – on average – is spent on using the Internet on a PC, with a further hour and a half spent on mobiles.

What this really shows us is the fact that in spite of all the new media we are surrounded by, old-fashioned media still plays a central role in our lives.

It also means that if you want to get notice you need to be in those traditional media – getting your business on TV and on the Radio is important if you want to be noticed, because that is where most of your audience spends most of its time.

Hang on a minute…where does Google get mentioned a lot? Oh yes…on Radio on TV….and not in its own search engine. There is a lesson there for all of us in business.

Category: Online Business

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Very tight deadlines will improve content marketing

Diary with deadline markedThe vast majority of websites in the world never get updated. A tiny proportion get new material every now and then, a really tiny proportion get extra content each week. An even tinier proportion of websites get daily updates. Where is your website on this spectrum?

The chances are your website is “average” in terms of its updating – which currently hovers around the once every ten days mark for a typical business website.

Website owners complain it is lack of time that is the real issue. “How can we update our website when we have all this work to do?” they ask.

Frankly, though, if they wanted to, they could find both the time and the money to update their websites more frequently.

It’s not a work issue, it is psychological

The real issue is a psychological phenomenon of “anticipated regret”. This is an almost instinctive part of our behaviour that prevents us from doing lots of things. We remain with the status quo because if we take some action we believe there might be a problem or difficulty that arises from that action. So we don’t do it. Much potential content is denied from the web because website owners subconsciously perceive some kind of potential problem if they were to add a blog post. They are unconsciously worried that they will regret adding the content, perhaps due to negative comments, or even no comments. Businesses appear to have collected “anticipated regret”, with everyone subconsciously aware of the potential difficulties that regular blogging might cause. So, guess what, it doesn’t happen. We often do not act because we subconsciously fear at some stage in the future we will regret taking that action. It is all part of our in-built survival instincts.

Anticipated regret appears to have a greater impact when we have longer to ruminate on things. If we have time to ponder on our actions, we can find all sorts of consciously thought-out reasons not to act. “I can’t blog today because I have to prepare for an important meeting this afternoon. ” Or “We can’t possibly blog every week because we mustn’t put our staff under such pressure, it would be unfair on them and become a health issue due to stress.” You get the picture. It is all about putting things off because we might actually in the future regret doing them now.

Quick decisions are good decisions

New research, however, points to another psychological factor which could be used to counteract anticipated regret. In a study of a simulated air crash, researchers investigated the decision-making taken by emergency services. There were 194 people involved in the pretend incident and they worked under the same intense time-pressure which would occur in a real incident. Such training practices take place regularly, of course.

One of the issues in such situations is that the decisions taken by emergency services personnel are literally life and death. You would think that under the pressure of time, their decision making could be impaired and that mistakes could happen. However, what the research found was that when under extreme time pressure our decision-making improves. We get better at making decisions when we have a really tight deadline, it seems.

This is partly because we start to rely on intuition – essentially we hand over decision-making to our subconscious brain. When we have the time to make decisions consciously we tend not to be so good at it.

Talk to journalists and many of them will tell you that their best stories are usually those which are under pressure, battling away against a seemingly impossible deadline to get something onto the front page or into a specific broadcast bulletin.

Sure, journalists are unlikely to have to make life or death decisions like the emergency services, but the principle is the same. The deadline enables their brain to work better. Of course if you say deadlines do not work for you, that you don’t respond well to them, all that is really happening is that you are consciously adding to “anticipated regret”. Research shows deadlines do help.

So, how can you use these two competing psychological factors in your business? The answer is to impose deadlines for content production. No more “can you produce a blog post sometime this week”, but instead, “I need your blog post by 2.35pm today”.  Deadlines work – even artificial ones, even ones you set for yourself. They make people think more clearly and they help reduce anticipated regret. The result is you will get more content on your website – precisely what you need.

If you want to be sure your website is regularly updated with content, start setting deadlines. And if you want to make sure you do set deadlines – do it now. Hey, I give you exactly 14 minutes from NOW to set your deadlines for the month ahead. That’s it, you have a 14 minute deadline to meet. Get on with it! If you meet that deadline, you’ll have set your blogging deadlines for the next four weeks. Of course, if you allow the anticipated regret of starting work now to take over, you won’t set any deadlines. So, get on with it, you only have 13 minutes now….!

For a tool to help you with blogging – click here
Category: Blogging

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All People Roaming In London Face Online Operation Licence

Mobile PhoneMobile phone users thought the EU had come to their aid last year when international roaming charges were capped across Europe. Now, however, the politicians have found a way to ensure that roaming is not as easy as it ought to be. Now it seems you are going to have to get a licence to roam.

The scheme begins today in London. All People Roaming In London Face Online Operation Licence, meaning that if you use a mobile phone on a network which is not your normal one, you will need to buy a licence as an “online operator” before you can proceed.

The idea behind the scheme is to limit the number of people using mobile phones. The bandwidth across Europe is creaking under the strain of masses of data being sent from smartphones and unless the authorities acted swiftly there was a real danger that the entire mobile phone system would collapse. The scheme was planned only in the past few weeks and was rushed through because of the impending General Election in the UK.

London is the first City to get the new licence scheme, but the cities that are already lined up to follow suit are:

  • Amsterdam
  • Paris
  • Rome
  • Innsbruck
  • Lisbon

The world-renowned Federation Of Online Liberty said “This is an outrageous idea. The authorities in Europe have known for a long time that there would be a squeeze on bandwidth. They have dithered and dithered over the past five years. Now, we are having to pay for their inability to organise things properly.”

They added: “The whole idea that you will have to get an operators licence to use your mobile phone abroad is just nonsense.”

You can, though, find out more about this scheme when you CLICK HERE.

Category: General

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