Getting noticed in the digital age
The 4 steps you need to take
The new landscape
The old ways of doing things aren’t going to work anymore
Digital has changed how communications work. In a recent survey 54% of journalist say that they can’t do their job without social media, and 27% of policymakers said that this was their principal channel through which they find out what academics were up to.
So if you want to be noticed in the digital age then there are some steps you will need to take.
1) Stop using PDFs
People aren’t reading them
The World Bank looked at its website stats from 2008 to 2012 to see if anyone was reading its reports, which were available as PDFs to download. It turned out a third of these reports had never been downloaded – not even once. The other reason is that PDFs don’t work well with social media - and that matters, as it is increasingly where journalists look for stories. A journalist isn’t going to sit there and wait for a PDF to download and then scroll through it to read your carefully crafted executive summary.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways that your PDF documents can be turned into web-friendly content. These range from simply changing the format to wholesale re-imaging with the use of videos, infographics, timelines and data visualisations to tell your story.
Your target audiences are going to be able to engage with your content far more easily than when it was locked away on a PDF, whether they are accessing it from a mobile, an iPad or a computer. And if you want, you can still have a PDF option for those who want to print the report.
2) Start having real conversations
People want to talk to people
Business leaders often ask what the value is in poking their heads above the social media parapet. Yet the real cost is in not getting involved. In the pre-digital age, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 caused shares to drop but they quickly rebounded. In 2010 after the Deepwater Horizon disaster BP’s share fell by half. While other factors were involved, social media (and the vacuum left by the BP bosses) contributed to the repetitional damage. Negative stories are exactly what the internet looks for to tempt readers – and somebody needs to be there to respond.
It’s crucial to get your business’ leaders and spokespeople into the digital space. Whether this is encouraging them to start blogging, tweeting or podcasting, or doing ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions on Reddit, will depend on them and the their sector, but the key is them getting out there and joining the online conversation.
By having your company or organisations voice out there you will be able to engage with stakeholders and those engaging and influencing stakeholders directly. You and your message won’t be mediated by other voices who will all have their own agendas.
3) Take the wider view
Influence the influencers
Key decision makers have always been influenced by the people they engage with - by their wider circle. Until digital emerged it was hard to identify whom those influencers were, but now we have a much better idea.
By looking at social media and applying statistical models, you can find those who are engaging with your stakeholders with more frequency than the wider social community. The same tools make it possible to identify those who are hyper-connected to others in the Twitter community – in other words, the very people who are important in spreading messages.
With this information you can start to engage with the most useful and relevant groups. Whether this is online or offline, this will help you create the right conditions for the right conversations.
4) Putting it all together
Its all about the userflow
Shopping online is becoming second nature to many of us and this isn’t by accident. A good deal of time and effort and has gone into removing any barriers between you and the ‘buy’ button. The same approach needs to be adopted when engaging with stakeholders and journalists.
This means thinking about the userflow from when someone in your target audience sees one of your tweets or gets an email from you. It means contacting people via the method they prefer the most. It means creating the right content for that channel that you are using. It means directing people to webpages where they can read and engage with your content equally well on their mobile, tablet or computer.
This is a process that those who work in retail now do almost innately – for those of us who work in communications it’s time to catch up.
The final step
Want to find out more?
If you need help applying these steps to your organisation then get in touch.