I’ve got a lot of time for psychologists. And so do PR and marketing types. But for different reasons. I like them because at their best they can fix broken people very well. PRs and marketeers like them because they can group us according to this or that trait, help predict behaviours and, at the bottom line, identify marketing segments and the ploys which might be effective in snaring us.
I’ve lost count of the number of times psychologists have turned up in press releases to help carry an idea across. The most recent example comes from BT, which has used one of their number to identify ‘digital personality types’.
BT’s theory is that companies can waste time and can even drive people away by sending out the wrong electronic messages to the wrong people. BT’s message is about developing unified communications strategies and systems to help reach people in appropriate ways, using the right comms methods for each personality type.
It is the personality types themselves that grab my attention. There are five of them. Are we really so basic that we all fit into one of five digital personality boxes? Whatever happened to the great variety of humanity? Anyway, here are the five:
- Most likely to embrace new technologies and believe it’s a good way to interact with customers and partners
- Flexible and happy to engage with people over multiple communication channels
- Most likely to use social networking to manage business relationships and allow people uncensored access to online profiles
- Unlikely to try out new technology until the benefits are demonstrated
- May not be comfortable with the speed of communication and the immediacy of new technologies
- Prefer sending emails that can be drafted and checked before being sent to technologies that enable people to be more impulsive such as micro blogging through Twitter
- Will embrace new technologies and the multiple methods of contacting people, often with little or no thoughts of the consequences
- Most likely to be a regular micro-blogger through Twitter or user of Facebook
- Will use new technologies as they appreciate the benefits that they could bring, but may not maximise the potential as they worry about pestering or disturbing people
- May find other people’s communications concerning, trying to respond to every message believing it to be important, finding filtering and prioritising difficult
- Cynical about new technologies and tend to reject them
- Unlikely to be comfortable with applying social networking to business relationships
- Have a tendency to misinterpret digital communications
BT’s psychologist has even come up with a few pointers to help you work out someone’s digital personality for yourself. Try it on a few colleagues and see what you come up with:
Accessibility: How open is the person to embracing new communications?
Speed: How quick is the person to respond to communications?
Emotion: What is their emotional response to receiving communications - written and verbal?
Agility: Do they present the capability to multi-task across different forms of communication?
Tone and Style: Do they like detail or results orientated communications? What tone of voice do they prefer?