Think local, not global, to make the most of the Internet

People are creatures of habit; we tend to do similar things each day. However, when asked about what we do in surveys or in research studies, guess what? We lie. We like to tell researchers what we think they want to know, or we want to make ourselves seem more “normal” than we think we are. The result is that many surveys about human activities are fraught with error.

Luckily technology can often provide the answer to what we really do and a new piece of research using mobile phones is causing quite a stir. The fact is, a mobile phone has to know exactly where it is for it to work. It constantly tells the mobile system where it is. As a result it is possible to track your movements.

That’s exactly what has happened with 100,000 people whose daily activities were monitored by American researchers over a six month period. What they discovered was that in spite of us all saying we are mobile, that we like travel, actually we rarely go beyond 10km from home.

It seems we are all very local and that we do not really work as globally as we would like to pretend. This research confirms something I was told several years ago that the average commute to work was just eight miles. In spite of the people who do travel into London each day, for instance, most people work very close to home.

Research from the information company Juniper shows that almost half of all searches done on mobile phones will be for local information. This indicates, once again, that local is important.

In spite of this we like to think we work in a global way; we seem to want to believe we are more international than is actually the case. However, if you analyse your customer list you could well find that a significant proportion of them are local. And on your social networks you’ll probably find that a sizeable slice of the people you most frequently connect with are relatively local.

Thinking globally might seem a good idea thanks to the international nature of the Internet, but if you overlook the local nature of human behaviour you could be missing out on potential business. Concentrate locally for customers and you may well find your business grows more than attempting to gain business globally.

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