Body language is a communication tool we all share offline. So how should non-verbal feedback work online and why? Here's our manifesto.
Someone I met through work suffered a death of her boyfriend recently. I found out through her Facebook status update. I wanted to express my support, but posting a comment felt shallow. Pressing the like button felt downright wrong. In the end, I did nothing.
In a world where we constantly shift between being offline and online, it’s hard to keep up a consistent behaviour of who we really are. When we engage with people offline, we can effortlessly perceive the other person beyond the spoken word. Be it intonation, pauses, posture, facial expressions, pace of speech or eye contact, these indicators instantly give us a patchwork of what people are expressing. We too, reciprocate with sentiments and nuances in our speech and body language. This exchange then informs the course of our action. For example, if a close friend cries in front of me, I might proceed to hold her hand. Take this online. Sharing an emoticon or a video of a cat in a shark costume seems somewhat insufficient. Though I've got to admit. It's quite a brilliant piece of content.
The live non-verbal exchange is so common to our nature, we hardly notice it as it occurs. But we know just what we’re missing when it’s not there. It’s simply not it. Non-verbal language makes us more human than we think. It's a different form of consuming and listening. Like watching theatre versus watching a movie.
7% of what we express offline is verbal and a whopping 93% non-verbal.
Of course, Skype, Google Hangout, Snapchat or Taptalk are doing a great job at enabling as many non-verbal nuances in our online communication as possible. But the online world developed primarily through text. Devoid of actual bodies, what is the standard for expressing non-verbal feedback to others online? And how do we express our sentiment towards all the content that is bombarding us every day?
Though metrics such as time on page, clicks, open rates, shares and commenting can determine levels of interest, gender or location, none of these tools truly focus on enabling people to express how they actually feel about the content — in real time and on a spectrum of intensity. Just like our CEO Anda demonstrates over here. These reactions are priceless when it comes to brands connecting to audiences.
Existing solutions to share sentiment online don’t match the offline.
Smileys are not smiles. Often they're a way to say, by the way, I'm not upset. Facebook’s Like button is less than binary. You can express what you like or nothing at all. Forget the bad news, because you’re set to be presented with content you’ve liked in the past (or similar).
A five-star rating system doesn’t have a neutral point, leaving people to guess at what their rating should be for something that was neither good or bad. Retweets are not always endorsements. It would be difficult to rank the best restaurants based on a collection of smiley faces and frowney faces, just as it would be difficult to express happiness or sadness using stars.
This gets even more complicated when it comes to commenting. Large platforms such as news’ sites typically get very low commenting rates. Out of the 100% who have read an article, only 0.5-1% will comment. This is hardly an objective reader sample of what people think. Some publishers such as Re/code, Reuters and Bloomberg have even ended comments.
Then there is advertising and branded content. Brands spend millions on targeted ad campaigns and content marketing. Too often, the adverts bother us, but there is no way to express that except to ignore, block or close them. Without knowing this, that's a marketing budget being wasted. In fact, we've developed an impeccably sharp skill of ignoring ads, leaving brands to shift their budgets towards content. However, brands struggle to measure ROI on branded content, leaving them to produce more content in hope of better conversion rates. So what’s the solution?
We need a standard for sentiment intensity.
We think binary answers, volumes of content and clicks are not the answer. We need a way of expressing how we feel about content through means as human as non-verbal feedback. We need to measure sentiment intensity on a spectrum, in ways as effortless as body language. And this type of participation needs to become the basis of audience intelligence to understand how content is actually working for its audience.
And we’re here to do just that. For example, now you can finally say how you feel about Kanye West. Don't be shy.
Back in 2012, we set out on a mission. We would empower people to communicate online as richly and as easily as they do offline with the aim of connecting brands and audiences in a way that no one else has done before. We set out to create a standard for non-verbal feedback online. Why? To truly understand the impact of content on audiences. With insights as granular as a poll or a deep conversation, but engagement as easy as one click or a look in the eye.
Call it a sentiment thermometer, showing your colours or simply, who we are.
We are Knotch.