People are falling out of love with their smartphones and social media profiles in record numbers, or so recent research suggests. In the UK, a survey of 2,500 people found that 34 percent of internet users now make a point of spending long periods of time away from the screen, while 59 percent reported feeling "addicted" to their devices. In America, digital detox retreats are becoming common across the country and are capitalizing on the widespread desire to disconnect.
What Lies Behind the Desire to Zone Out?
There's something about internet usage that is turning people off. One reason could be the speed at which the web has entered peoples' lives. In just 20 years, it has gone from a hobby for geeks to an all-encompassing network that ordinary people take for granted. Some people feel overwhelmed by how fast that's happened.
For others, social media use is not an unqualified benefit. They often feel anxiety about how they are perceived, and how they should act online to avoid alienating their contacts. For some, this slips into forms of narcissism, making them feel that they are becoming different people, and not necessarily for the better.
Still others want to reconnect with people on a face-to-face basis. The web may be a brilliant tool, but in a world where any facts can be Googled, people talk less about the world around them. They ask for directions less when Google Maps is at their fingertips. They may even meet people less frequently if basic encounters can take place on Facebook.
Not everyone feels the need to detox, but plenty of people find the digital world has a dark side. The question for businesses is how to find ways of marketing to the digitally disaffected.
How to Reach Out to Refugees from the Online World
Ironically, some of the most lucrative business opportunities presented by digital detox revolve around the web and smartphones. Few people disconnect entirely. Most of the time, they just want to control their internet habits, not to abandon the web.
This kind of person is crying out for scheduling apps that allow them to take control of their time. Tools that can monitor how long they spend on Facebook and how often they check their emails are becoming ever more popular. App developers who can find sensitive, fun ways to encourage people to turn their phone off will do well.
The same goes for companies that offer real-world experiences. Digitally fatigued people are looking for outdoor retreats, camping adventures, sports, walking tours, anything that gets them out of the house with friends. If you market something along these lines, it's time to set up targeted Facebook ads to fill the need for disconnection.
It's easy to imagine ways that tourism providers can market retreats. For example, they could market their retreat specifically as a place with a terrible (or nonexistent) mobile signal. What normally would be a weakness, would then become a strength. So if your holiday home struggles to attract people who need internet connectivity, there may be an opening.
Take a Tip from the Digital Detox Professionals
Over the past four years, businesses have started to cash in on the trend towards detoxifying peoples' digital lives. A great example is Camp Grounded. Held in California, this $350 a head retreat prohibits computers, watches and tablets. You can't mention work, or even use guests' real names. Instead, guests engage in "playshops" that include yoga tuition and collaborative writing.
Camp Grounded is provided by Digital Detox, a retreat which charges $1,400 for a suite for 72 hours. Clearly, there is money to be made from the desire to live a purer life.
Tech developers have also climbed aboard the detox bandwagon. Kovert is a great example. They manufacture jewelry which enables the wearer to put away their smartphone. The idea is that when a critical alert comes in, the jewelry informs them, but leaves them be if it's just a mundane text message or email.
You don't need to be an app developer or a boutique resort to turn the trend towards digital detox to your advantage. Just focus on how your products can help people connect with each other and provide enriching real-world experiences. It's a genuine marketing opportunity that surprisingly few companies are exploiting.
About the author:
Adel de Meyer is a New Media Specialist, Brand Ambassador, Tech Enthusiast, Trainer and Mentor. She is listed as a Top Digital blog and Top 20 Social Media coach. Adel works and has worked with many different brands some including Hootsuite, Pitney Bowes, Later, Brand24 and Huawei as a Brand Influencer and a Key Opinion Leader.
Adel regularly writes articles on analytics, influencer marketing, technology and social media solutions. She works closely with global SMB enterprises, Entrepreneurs and Personal Brands by using Social Media and Technology to captivate their audiences
If you want to get started or fine-tune your digital presence - Connect with Adel. Read more of Adel's articles on adeldemeyer.com