When I set out as a student of communication, one of the many acronyms I quickly learnt was K.I.S.S. For the purpose of this discussion, we expand K.I.S.S. to mean Keep It Simple and Sweet, with other variations that substitute simple for ‘short’.
Given that you are talking with a group of one or more persons, it is important to understand that a lot of things grapple for people’s attention as you communicate with them; as such, any effort to spice-up your message can get them rooting back for you. Today, social media makes it more necessary to craft your messages for the best impact. Thus, the way we communicate has been modified by the realities of new media.
We live in a digital ecosystem that has transformed almost everything around us; how we make purchases, how we work, how we learn, the way we live in general – and certainly, how we relate and communicate with one another.
Companies are beginning to factor into many existing and new job descriptions how their clients absorb information. Understanding and adopting the right social media tools and campaign plans to communicate has become more relevant than ever.
Just for a reflective awakening, it is important to appreciate that the dynamics of traditional communication, though still fundamental, have been tweaked and appropriated in this new-school way of getting your message across to those you or your company does business with.
One of the world’s premier news and social media companies, Twitter, has since its inception in 2006 been characterised by the need for brevity. At first it was unimaginable to understand that you had to communicate all your thoughts in a single tweet with just about 140 characters!
Not only have social media users all over the world come to accept it – we have actually come to love it. In 2018, the company observed that although it doubled the character count from 140 to 280, only 1% of tweets actually hit the 280-character limit; and only 12% were longer than the 140 characters we used to complain about.
PR professionals, publicists and social media users alike have learnt to get to the crux of our message by hitting the nail on its head. If you want to capture your audience, no long talks – get straight to the point with as few words as you can use.
This is the era to make use of the summary skills you learnt in school. Learn to express yourself in a few words when necessary. This will not only pay-off for social media, but also many other forms of communication. Selecting the right synonyms or vocabulary that will illustrate an idea you would hitherto have expressed in a full sentence is a priceless weapon in your arsenal.
It becomes instructive, then, that as you engage new prospects in their direct messaging on social media, you fine-tune your message and make it brief and compelling in introducing yourself and your product offerings. Elevator pitches no longer happen necessarily on elevators. The only opportunity to pitch may be the message you slide into that CEO’s inbox. So, own it and make it worth their while.
Results can be instant! Anyone in the pre-Kodak era would doubt this statement because it took a while to get your pictures even during Kodak times. Your images were on a film and had to be printed for you later after they’re added to a number of negatives. Things have changed; we take pictures now, see them now, and edit them on the go.
We go live with videos on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. We wait for no collation of films. Everything is instant. At first, the pride of radio and television stations was the caption ‘breaking news’. In this era, the news is broken first on social media and anyone with the right technology gets to break the news when they want to. You don’t have to wait at a particular time of the day for the top stories, or be anxious for the details of breaking news. Everything happens so fast.
It has become important for brands to be timely in putting out information. A regular passer-by with a smartphone can share a piece of information you are yet to post on your social media page or website.
As many people across the world are experiencing a lockdown or general restrictions in movements, live conversations have become more fashionable. A few blunders have been seen on the part of some people who probably were unaware that their devices were recording them on their blind-side and making their scene visible to the world without their permission. We all have to understand the functionalities of the various apps and tools we are using for our various conference calls and webinars to avoid any form of embarrassments going live.
The good news for a start-up in going live is that you are your own media. You can record and produce yourself in the comfort of your home or office. Your studio is your phone; various options are available for a tripod and voila!… you are your own producer!
You don’t have to go and pay for a radio or television commercial; they are too expensive and will cripple your business before your very eyes. Go on your PlayStore or AppStore and find simple apps you can use to record and edit videos.
The advantages that video calls offer you are just seamless. If you are working on the computer or performing any task where you need guidance from a colleague, coach or a friend to actually see what you are doing and help you make the necessary corrections, you will not go wrong with video calls. As a young entrepreneur, see WhatsApp videos, Zoom sessions and other such platforms as effective tools to leverage for your business. You become your own public relations consultant if you adopt these tools effectively.
Fleeting versus Viral:
News trends. Yes, that is actually what to say – although it is much easier to accept that bad news spreads faster. If you goof with your brand communication, you will trend. Negative news, funny items, and perhaps what you consider as trivial trends much faster on social media.
Positive news does trend as well, and that is the good news for you. Relatively, information on social media travels to a wider audience base faster than any traditional media does. In the reality of this, almost every important TV or radio programme is streamed directly on various social media handles.
If you are a communications executive or business owner, it is important to take advantage of trends on social media and produce right content that can go viral to reach its targetted audience and beyond.
A good video or image with the right titles or captions receives more interactions. The virality of social media is not restricted to negative news. When you make the right posts on Facebook, you get the right engagements in comments and shares. When you don’t, consider this as feedback and identify what you are not doing right.
A good tweet receives several retweets, good videos and skits can receive millions of views and shares within a short time. If you have the right information on your website and curate it with compelling captions, together with a link on social media, chances are the traffic on your site will increase or you will crash your server!
The idea of trends can be scary, though, as trends suggest prevailing situations or conditions. News that trends is often fleeting, they go quickly. You invariably have to be in the practice of producing new content to be on top of the search for visibility to users of the various platforms in order to drive traffic to you.
A person, an idea, a place – or anything at all – can become popular in no time; but often when its associated glory is not managed well, the substance does not last long. When your time comes and social media is hailing your products and services, stay put – because the people on these same platforms can troll you when given the opportunity.
If you can learn to produce the right content and sustain it, you will attract approaches for being hired or poached by companies.
>>> The writer is a corporate trainer and professional ghost-writer assisting busy executives to write and publish their books, articles, and speeches. He has served as Head of Protocol at a diplomatic mission, Corporate Affairs Officer at a French multinational agribusiness and as Events and Media Correspondent for a digital ad agency.
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