Social scientists use the word presence to describe how many of us make sense of our online worlds. As with our offline world, we understand our online world as a set of actions we must undertake in order to live within it. This creates a feeling of presence, or a sense of being there.
The Scientific Angle
Presence was not that common or achievable in traditional media, because it did not allow for the interactive nature needed to create a feeling of presence. However, online environments do, and this online space means something to us.
Presence can be understood as physical presence, social presence or self presence. Physical presence is a state in which virtual objects are experienced as actual objects, social presence is where virtual actors are experienced as actual actors, and self presence is where our virtual self is experienced as an actual self.
The B2B Marketing Angle
If you can help facilitate the feeling of presence, you may be able to create an online relationship that is meaningful to your target audience. For example:
- Increasing vividness can help create a rich online environment comparable to the offline world thus increasing their sense of physical presence.
- Fostering the interactive nature of online relationships may help increase their feelings of social presence or self presence.
Online environments allow for an inherent level of presence with most of us. But if you can build off this even more, you may be able to persuade your target audience to think about your online relationship in a different way than with your competitors.