Get online…! Oh – you are…!

Today is National Get Online Day – honest…! It’s an initiative from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. Mmmm. There’s the first mistake – to separate universities and skills from the Department of Education (now called the Department for Children Schools and Families).

Do you get the picture? Here’s the UK Government with its so-called “joined up thinking” having a “Get Online” day run by a department which is removed from the people who could actually encourage more people to go online – children. Ho hum. Besides which, the Innovation Department isn’t showing much novelty – or awareness – itself; Get Online Day doesn’t even feature visibly on its own home page. There is a link – but you have to scroll right down to the bottom of the page. So, here we have a major Departmental initiative and they don’t even want to promote it. Oh dear.

There’s another clue to their lack of promotional nous. The Get Online Day website has an Alexa rank of 23 million – in other words, virtually invisible. That might not be important because their targets are people not yet online; but those online could be used to encourage their offline friends and family if they knew about this initiative. Hiding it away is worthless.

Anyway, why the need for a Get Online day in the first place? Well, apparently not enough people are online. Apparently one in three people don’t use the Internet regularly and one in four have never used the Internet at all. Gosh. That means we actually have a higher usage of the Internet than the USA.

This is another example of two things. Firstly politicians getting their knickers in a twist over nothing. Secondly typical Civil Service inter-departmental warfare. Children use the Internet every day in school from infants upwards. If you want to encourage more participation in the Internet – start with the people actually using it.

And therein lies a lesson for all of us – start with your audience, rather than what you think. Think about your business from their perspective and you will win. Worry about internal departmental boundaries, worry about statistics and you’ll be in the wrong starting position.

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