Online behavior is only one dimension of a user experience

Recently this blog post meandered into my Facebook feed and caught my eye: I’m not a liar but Facebook sure is from Josh & Maddi Fieleke’s blog, fielekefrontporch. The title caught my eye first and then the comments underneath made me look closer. Maddi’s honest post really hit a nerve with many FB-ers out there. Jesse Newton wrote a blog post on Social Media Envy and Image Crafting, in which she looks at the same frustrations commenters mention in response to Maddi’s post.

As a UX researcher at User Insight I spend a lot of time thinking about people and their behavior. We’ve talked to so many people about so many different things that patterns of user behavior have emerged and lead us to create Behavior DNA to help our clients understand user needs and build customized experiences.

One major opportunity we’ve identified is looking at what people do rather than what they say they are going to do – true behavior rather than interpretation. Maddi’s words get to the heart of that need. Her post is relatable and real which helps establish a connection.

Many of our clients come to us wanting to reach their customers and create a connection. To establish success, they need metrics and ways to measure engagement. On a platform like Facebook, looking at “likes” or “shares” is one way to measure engagement but if that is the only metric you can use to measure, you are only getting one dimension of the story. The missing part of that evaluation is offline behavior, did that post on Facebook encourage different behavior? What didn’t people post on Facebook?

Through our research, we know people have very different social media habits, some are very open with what they post, they are the filterless, and they share everything and anything online. Others are more crafted in what they post, withholding some information or putting their best foot forward online.

If you are tasked with coming up with a social media campaign, understanding who is posting and why helps put together a more complete story; pairing that with offline behavior is critical if you want to affect change or connect with a group.