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Social media isn't the answer; but it is part of the question

Social media isn't the answer; but it is part of the question

Social media is huge and will continue to grow. It is a great way of getting your message to existing and potential customers and to regularly interact with them. But while the internet is borderless, the same cannot be said of people’s time.

Consider the claim from Google head Eric Schmidt that every two days we create as much information as that created in the period from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. Yet the reality is our time to consume this massive increase in information has not increased. This means that we all make more targeted decisions when it comes to our media consumption in both choosing subject matter and the delivery platform.

Some marketers have made a bundle in recent times espousing online advertising as the only media worth considering. Others have embraced the rise in mobile devices such as i-Pads and smart phones, offering yet another opportunity for engagement. The point here is that it is not about the medium, which are ever increasing, but more about effectively reaching and touching your targets through as many relevant mediums as you can.

Enter “Transmedia Storytelling”. This is not a new term - in fact it has been around for several years and was coined by Henry Jenkins, a MIT professor, back in 2003. However, it seems to be getting some traction now.

The concept is simple; know where your customers and prospects go for information and be everywhere they go, irrespective of the media platform. It makes you a part of their lives as they go through the buying cycle. Critically, this also needs to include the after-sales experience and be delivered as a consistent story, so your customers recognise you and your brand no matter where it pops up.

You have to integrate while keeping relevance to the media you use. In doing so, you need to take your customers on a journey, all the time remembering the destination and what you want them to feel about you and your brand when they get there.

I have a love of cooking, which comes from having a grandfather who was a personal chef to the Queen. My love of cooking means I consume huge amounts of information on the subject matter. Here’s the key, not one type of media satisfies my hunger (bad pun) for knowledge.

Typically, when I am in the zone, the media is irrelevant and I am a willing - even gullible - potential buyer of related products. The more you reach out to me across the targeted media I consume, the more you will influence me. The key is I am receptive to your message due to my state of mind at the time. When I am looking at a food programme/website, the last thing I am thinking about is what kind of car I will buy next.

I continue to struggle with companies who think that simply hitting the right demographic will mean that the recipient will be receptive to the messaging. The range of channels now available to us means you have to be really targeted in your messaging, simply because you can be.

It used to be that ‘targeted advertising’ was about which television or radio programme or newspaper section your customer might prefer. Today you can access their cellphone, laptop, TV, radio, mail box, post box, movie watching, internet engagement and conversations with friends. So the bottom line is dig deep and find out about when and where your customers go for information - then you will be there every step of the way with your message.

Bob Pinchin is the director of Sway.tech, a specialist communications house for technology companies. Email bobp@swaytech.co.nz


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