Recently a report was released by US market research firm Pear Analytics with a statement on how 40% of Twitter messages are “pointless babble.” As you can see from the comments followed, the statement rubbed some people the wrong.
Although the analysis was based from a personal value judgment on individual’s communication, it somewhat puts Twitter usage in perspective. At the end of the day nobody can speak words of wisdom every time they open their mouth (not even Warrant Buffet), but the real value of Twitter is its openness as a real-time platform for engagement opportunities.
Perhaps the report is subjective but the truth is Twitter has allowed users to utilize the platform however they like propelling this incredible movement towards the personalization of media. Simultaneous to this growing personalization of media is a stronger notion of connectivity in social media. Not just Twitter but all social media technologies must be seen as revolutionary not simply in their design, but in their redesign by people because there is really no rules or limits on how you want to use it including pushing out pointless babble.
Let’s look at some of the ways people are using the social networks that’s been created. According to a survey last month from Direct Marketing Association (DMA), “Nearly 60% of marketing and management professionals in a recent survey think social networking can have a significant influence on their company’s brand awareness… more than 45% of respondents believe social networking can be critical to capturing customer insights.”
Evidently marketers are all trying to capitalize on social media to capture customer insights.
Social media allows you to hear what’s been said enabling you to efficiently abstract more relevant information in developing a targeted marketing strategy. The catch is to draw value to the audience in a meaningful and personal way because the potential for a conversion increases drastically when you target a new audience that is already interested in what you have to say.
Understand the Communication Process: Linear to Interactive to Transactional
Whenever I discuss with clients on how to develop a brand strategy I always ensure there is an understanding of the communication process. Traditional media provides mainly a linear model of communication that’s simply a one-way process where the sender broadcasts a message to a receiver and thus communication and understanding occurs. Think of it as reading newspaper or watching TV, you’re only receiving information.
A more sophisticated interactive communication model was developed via mediums such as talk radio or online discussion forum that allows feedback to transpose over the linear communication model. As a result it builds meaning through feedback but with noises that interferes with the communication. Noise is anything that interferes with the communication of the message with the encoding and decoding process.
And finally there is the transactional communication model that requires the engagement to understand and incorporate individual’s field of experience and frame of reference into the conversation. This is ultimately how to communicate efficiently and effectively. Your audience continues to be engaged because you’ve taken encoding, decoding, receiving and sending feedback all into consideration when you communicate.
Social networks encourage a highly transactional model of communication in which people build shared meaning that assumes reciprocity. The real difference is that you’re not just telling others what you want them to understand, which is the content aspect of our messages, but you’re also conveying your understanding of the relationship you have with them. The conversation becomes more attractive when you can relate to your audience.
Why Brands are Eager to Engage
Unfortunately many brands failed to understand the concept of real transactional communication because they’ve mainly utilize the linear communication channel to “push” their marketing and message. The problem is that it doesn’t allow for efficient feedback. Furthermore what’s been broadcast influence how each and every consumer responds back, and that in turns has bearing on the next marketing message from the brand.
Traditional channels discourage open communication that social media is built on which is why today brands are eager to engage with their audience more than ever with this new platform. It’s like a real-time focus group that can give you practical feedback to improve your product or services (One way to look at it).
It’s indicative that a shift from ambient media into conversational media is underway. You must realize that people’s response has impact on your future communication with them, this is especially important in conversational media so a positive transactional exchange would be optimal.
As social media continues to gain momentum, it’s not simply about building a large following but to cultivate a community in the sphere of trust. Your brand’s actions and perception will directly impact your reputation and brand image. Executed properly, social engagement can serves as a tangible incentive that’s more effective than other marketing tactics in earning trust.
In fact, this is especially crucial during a recession when trust is at all time low and consumers are extremely selective. Today more people are using the internet because the increasingly social web offers more freedom of choice, allows for sharing and collaboration, enables customization of content, delivers cost-effective entertainment, all with on-demand speed.
Transactional communication is the preferred communication method.
However, one key concept brands must recognize is that trust is simply permission to compete, not as a differentiator. In order to become an esteemed brand, you must demonstrate that you understand and care about the consumer as well as having a valuable offering.
The take away: Social media = conversation = transactional communication = meaningful engagement = trust = allow to compete = chance to win lifetime customer.
What do you think? What’s your communication strategy? Love to hear from you in the comments.