Today is the worldwide (apparently) Earthday. You knew that this morning if you strolled along to Google to discover the logo had changed. In fact for every Earthday for the past seven years, Google has changed its logo in honour of Earthday.
The idea behind Earthday is to mobilise people to take action on the environment. But it is likely to have little impact. The day has had scant attention here in the UK and the British media hasn’t rushed to cover the topic. And the reason why isn’t hard to see.
All you need to do is visit the Earthday web site and you will see immediately that this so-called “global” day is really only taking place in the USA. It’s rather like the “global series”, which is a match between the USA and Canada. The American view of “worldwide” appears to mean it covers ALL of America…!
OK, I know, I’m being stereotypical. But, take a look at that Earthday web site. The phone number is a USA number and we are being urged to call our “representative” or “senator”. But outside the USA, we don’t have them. Equally, all the headlines at the bottom of the page are American, not global. Dig deeper into the site and you discover that there are international projects taking place and that over 1 billion people worldwide will be celebrating today’s Earthday.
But, the immediate American focus of that front page means that instantly people elsewhere in the world think “this is not for me”. In the fraction of a second people take to make their mind up about a web site, this one simply screams “I’m a page for Americans” – hence the rest of the world may look away.
You only have half a second to engage people and make them want to read more of your web site. If you are promoting a global environmental day and you want to attract international audiences, making your site so obviously American from the outset could work against you. Equally, if your web site needs to attract middle-aged builders or young women interested in knitting wools, make sure you site shouts out “this is for YOU”. Attention spans are getting shorter and your site needs to make an immediate connection with your target audience.
Sadly, the Earthday site which has so much global potential signals it is only for Americans in that moment when people visit. Make sure your site sends out the appropriate signals for your target audience, otherwise you will lose business.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+