Facebook. Instagram. WordPress. Gmail. If you’re online, chances are, you use one or more of these services. What would you think if someone told you that your online habits dictate what sort of online person you are? Think of it like a Briggs Myers type test, except that the folks at MasterCard are doing the research and it reveals how and why we share certain information online, especially when it comes to how we consume and buy.
The company’s study, the Digital Sharing and Trust Project, tells us that we take off our “real-world” identities and assume a digital one that more honestly reflects how we’re feeling and how we value our data in the ether. These identities are broken down into five personas: Open Sharers, Simply Interactors, Solely Shoppers, Passive Users and Proactive Protectors.
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“Nearly 2.5 billion people around the globe use the Internet every day,” said Theodore Iacobuzio, vice president of MasterCard’s Global Insights group, in a statement. “This research shows that, regardless of who they are and where they live, they all share something in common when it comes to how they act and behave online –these five unique global personality types. It also shows us that when consumers go online, characteristics such as age, gender or nationality become secondary and they instead assume a sense of what we refer to as ‘social citizenship.’”
The findings from the study are pretty indicative of our online culture. Simply Interactors make up 21 percent of online consumers and tend to stay within the social networks. Another 21 percent of those profiled fall under the Open Sharer category, which is predominantly male. This group is the most digitally involved, as they expect deals in return for their shared information.
“In today’s digital world, consumers are continuing to spend more of their time and money online,” said Iacobuzio. “That’s all the more reason that understanding these five distinct personas will be important for a variety of audiences, but perhaps most especially for retailers and marketers. By better understanding why consumers want to share their information online in the first place, companies can be better prepared to engage with them in more meaningful and relevant ways.”
Data was collected between November 2012 and March 2013 across the United States, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, India, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Brazil and Colombia. Of those surveyed, there were more than 9,000 digital consumers aged 16-65, all of whom engaged in some type of online activity at least once a week.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that social networking websites are the biggest platform for interacting with other users on the Internet. Sharing personal information with strangers can be dangerous business, and our online habits are becoming fuel for marketers to use when they try and target products and services. Social networking is all about sharing, so somehow, somewhere, a company is using that information. "When in doubt, leave it out" is a good motto to follow. Always remember that anything you share has the potential to be used in some fashion.
Edited by Alisen Downey