“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” Lewis Carroll
Communication should have a purpose. We should know where we want to go, and what we hope to get out of all the strategies we’re putting into place. Merely setting a goal for the number of tweets we’ll post is not communication.
It’s just us blasting out a twitter, facebook, blog, you-name-it diarrhea — going ‘round and ‘round inside our self-centered cage
Communication should be an other-centered CONVERSATION
. Talk to your audience like they’re your friends. Be authentic. Don’t respond to questions and comments like a robot. Don’t use canned messages. Hugh MacLeod, the brilliant cartoonist at Gaping Void, brightens the world daily with a new cartoon encapsulating the challenges we all face in communicating with and engaging our consumers in a digitally revolutionized world. In a recent CARTOON
It’s about relating to something. I take thoughts and ideas that have passed through ALL of our heads from time to time and put it in a format that encourages us to actually TALK about it.
What’s noteworthy is the emphasis on ALL of our heads – my side, your side and the other guy’s side. One of the reasons having a conversation with all of our ‘guys’ is so essential is that we think we know more than we do. Accordingly, we don’t genuinely invite response or listen to comments. Opinion too often trumps knowledge. We surround ourselves with insiders who validate our opinions, and pretty soon opinion becomes truth (or some halfway approximation thereof).
The problem with living in a world of half truths is that it blinds us. We’re so caught up in the purity and goodness of our missions (as we see them), that we miss the black swans that can have a huge impact on our very survival. We concentrate on things we already know and fail to consider what we don’t know. In this manner we fail to estimate, and therefore seize on, opportunities. We miss the boat, the plane and the train.
Speaking of trains… if you’re not yet hooked into the Cluetrain Manifesto, it’s time to take a look. The bottom line is that the train of discerning consumers has left the station, is travelling full speed ahead, and markets are getting smarter, faster. We must get smarter too. We must embrace the realities that never in history have so many had the chance to know what so many others are thinking on such a wide range of subjects.
many miss the tenets and dynamics of what makes social media, well…social. For example, social media is already siloed within most organizations today. The top three departments that “own” social media are marketing, marketing communications, and public relations respectively. When you study day-to-day programs, it’s clear that campaigns, contents, and conversations offer the semblance of engagement, but really add up to nothing more than meaningless platitudes.
We’re in a new business, using old techniques, and a lot of us are blowing it with our implementation of so-called social strategies. We blast stuff out there; then don’t follow through with any reinforcement of our brand value. Since the promise we make to consumers is meaningless absent a meaningful relationship with our target audience, it is imperative that we offer more than access to information. We must offer closure.
The era of the consumer moron is over
(CARTOON alert!). The internet has made it possible for constituents to learn all about us, and all about our competition; they don’t have to hear it directly from us. They’re going to talk about us, so we may as well give them something to talk about. They’re smart, informed and discerning. They don’t care about us as an institution. It’s not about who we are; it’s about what we do and what we offer (our brand promise
We have to be in the conversation
. Yes, it’s work. There are lots of choices out there. It can be overwhelming. We no longer have a discreet tool box. We seem to get new boxes, with new toys
inside, every day. And, for the most part, these are not toys we play with by ourselves. They require us to have friends to play with. It’s such an interactive marketplace. Ten years ago none of us could have imagined the influence things like Facebook and Twitter would have. What’s next?
We must devote resources to social media. It’s really not a “free” strategy – even though we don’t have to pay postage. Consumers are demanding a more useful approach that redounds to their benefit, making social media an essential strategy in today’s social consumer marketplace. And, done right, it’s a powerful multiplier of intellectual capital.
We can borrow a page from for profit businesses
like Dunkin’ Donuts
who comprehend it’s about making engagement with our brand fun for our
constituents. Dunkin’ strives to be the voice of their customers, and understands “we are our customer.” Our fans have knowledge. The real thing, and not the stuff we “knowledge manage.” It drives their voices; it’s what they most like to talk about. The brand is not just what we say it is. It’s not even just one thing. Sometimes, it really is about the village.
So the next time you’re considering a tweet, facebook or blog post, ask yourself where you’re going with it. And do you have a plan in place to create closure for your fans? What’s your biggest challenge in finding the other half of the truth?