The personal stream and the rise of selective media consumption
If we take a second away from our keyboards and iPads to think about it, we are completely in control of the media we consume. The news, entertainment, infotainment, gossip and follow-ups we view are delivered by the channels we choose, if we choose to know of them at all.
Facebook, Twitter, PVR, YouTube and the ordinary inbox have become personalised and unique media feeds that differ from person to person. These tools allow us to create our own information menus, relevant to our attitudes and interests that are delivered to us in the most convenient way.
A setback that this simple offering introduces though is that it allows consumers to take complete control of what they choose to digest. While nowadays big ideas can be spread quickly and smoothly, the amount of time most consumers have to browse personal content is even more limited. Non-essential (and often marketing) messages can be tuned out as noise, and the source of the messages eventually turned off completely.
Our personalised media also allows us to ‘park’ content – if we’re too busy at the time to consume it we might save it for later that day or forget about it altogether. While there’s little we can do to control whether or not our messages are being read immediately or are put on ice, we can use innovative online tools to gently remind the viewer of the unread/unvisited content. These handles are ‘likes’, ‘retweets’, ‘diggs’ and even the more traditional but effective email forward. And of course, the real reward for great content development and messaging, the unsponsored pass-around. Recent successes like www.damnyouautocorrect.com show how imperative it is to be noticed on the viewer’s terms, not the marketers. Which is why most brands now believe that multi-channel publishing is no longer an option.
Multi channel magic
Increasingly for brands that use the multi-channel approach, if one area of communication is cut off, there are at least another handful of opportunities to speak to the relevant people. But, if you’re the kind of brand that has a website and banks on it for 90% of your messaging, you may find you’re in a bit of a pickle. Multi-channel messaging helps get around the strict filtering most people are now applying to their private media streams. If your newsletter gets sent straight to the spam box, your tweeted link might well still connect. More and more the value of repetitive exposure is being seen – specifically if brands can strike the right balance of reiterating the message without boring the public with word for word repeats.
Filters exist now in ways we don’t immediately think of. Instead of simply worrying about whether the viewer will choose to take in your communication or not, we have other indirect filters we need to navigate. The junk mail folder is one type of filter. In social media, the noise itself, and that fact that most people don't constantly watch their stream, are two additional forms of filters. There’s a chance that even if you’re tweeting regularly, members of your audience may miss you altogether which is why it’s vital your message is also being sent out via other channels.
Fans of multi-channel also have the benefit of working the push-pull relationship better than brands that only use one or two media channels. And while some channels don’t allow for much conversation, they can introduce a slightly more ‘human’ element to brands, allowing them to speak in a language that best fits the medium. For example, a brand is more likely to be a little more approachable on Twitter than it would be on its home page.
A very real issue that multi-channel enthusiasts will face is how to define appropriate levels and frequency of contact. Here are a couple of handy tips to remember:
Ultimately, brands that are active and interesting and provide easy to consume and forward content won’t be easily ignored. If they’re meaningful and relevant too then the connections they are making have a good chance of becoming long term.
- Only a small percentage of fans will see posts made on Facebook. However, if a brand posts more than once a day, it can also clutter up the viewers newsfeed, annoying them.
- Posting, tweeting and emailing needs to happen at different levels of frequency in order to remain appropriate in their specific contexts.
- Posting at different times of the day will help you to connect with different users.
- Tweets work better when they’re shorter – under 120 characters - as they’re more likely to be retweeted.
- Sometimes, reworded follow up tweets can be helpful as well as they can remind the viewer of a post they might have missed or have glossed over.
- Making your content easy to share also encourages retweeting and passing-on, as does linking your post to another site or having another site recommend your content.