For better relationship behavior on the Internet

If you like, we come digital from a dating era, behind us are years of notorious one-night stands. Attention was confused with love and won with loudness. It was assumed that the Internet was something like a new television channel, in which one had to be only conspicuous and colorful enough to get attention.

Newsrooms filled the Internet and Facebook with fierce clickbait headlines over many years, so that as many pairs of eyes as possible would land on the noisy display ads and autoplay videos. Click, click, click – what a time to be alive! That was the one-night-stand-era.

But after 20 not really good Tinder-Dates you realize that it might not be the channel for eternal love. And in digital marketing and newsrooms, it’s dawning that attention gained in the short term is not a recipe for long-term user loyalty. Users are only human, and people usually do not want to be shouted at, not even from autoplay videos. And they punish bad dressing – with adblockers and poor click-through rates.

So the wind is spinning. The question in digital marketing and newsrooms is no longer: “How do we get as many pairs of eyes and as much quick attention as possible?”. The question is, “how do we build right relationships with users and audiences, how do we get real relevance, how do we communicate with our audiences, how do we gain loyalty and trust?”


That’s a pretty radical change of tempo:

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Only the mating behavior in digital marketing is still relatively often reminiscent of an awkward 20-year-old who now desperately wants a relationship. So here are a few dating tips.

1. patience and perseverance

Real life relationships often build on similar patterns, such as:

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The User Journey, which leads from the first click to the loyal and lifelong love aka customer loyalty, may not be as different as in real life. Sometimes it takes time to build a real relationship with a user.

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In their enthusiasm for loyal, lifelong customers, an anonymous, first-time visitor to a site is still frequently asked if they want to sign up for a subscription – on the first level of the dating funnel. After the first click to ask if you want to become a subscriber or club member, comes to the real love life, something like this:

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Difficult. Relationships take time.

2. Diverse contact points

There are a few companies that are extremely good at building deep relationships with their users and making a lot of money from them. Speaking of #GAFA. And it’s so easy to rely on the expertise of these players as a less experienced company. So most of the digital overspending is still plugged into Facebook & Co. It’s like meeting your partner in one club at a time. You have no phone number, no address – the entire relationship life takes place within the club.

I do not believe that such a sustainable relationship can be built. Facebook can be awesome as one of many contact points, but to stay in control of a relationship requires moving and meeting in different settings.

3. communication

Back to the dating funnel: What connects the stages of this funnels in the analogue world are usually thousands of text messages, conversations, verbal and nonverbal exchanges. Communication. Many digital companies have already understood this, but rely on isolated social networks as an interaction channel alone. That’s tricky, see above.

Especially publishers have been struggling since the birth of the Internet with the fact that users actually want to communicate with them. In fright, many have closed their comment columns – which admittedly is often a resource question. Nevertheless, every relationship begins with a conversation. Denying users this conversation is a bad idea if you want to build a relationship with them. Incidentally, there are also many technologies that help to establish conversations with users and make them scalable.

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4. Relevance

If you want to attract the attention of a person, it usually helps to say something relevant. ¯ \ _ (ツ) _ / ¯. But what is relevant? Journalism preaches a few factors that determine whether something is considered interesting by people. Not all must be met, but a few relevance aspects are, um, relevant.

5. Online + offline

“Offline” still has a dusty image for many digital enthusiasts. But encounters, live and in color, are the most effective contact point you can create. For example, Red Bull can do that pretty well. Or the Campfire-Festival in Düsseldorf, with journalists and real People. In the past, publishers had readers offices for their subscribers. Call me old-fashioned, but I think relationships need offline encounters.

There is more to be said, but unfortunately this article is not a lifelong relationship, but maybe just a first date. But we can continue that, online or offline. Call me!

This text is part of the current LEAD Magazine 03/2018.

To the author: Pia Frey is Co-Founder and Head of Publishers of the opinion and marketing tool Opinary. Frey works on the startup publisher page to improve and monetize the relationships between users and newsrooms.

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