The New Rules of Communication
These are a few comments that have been left on our organization’s social media in the past month.
“I have major FOMO. TFW you just mistakenly poured orange juice in your coffee instead of creamer and all your friends are at MOPS and you aren’t. AWHFY?”
“Say Bible. Do you like this video I made?”
“This is helpful AF. Thanks for posting these tips.”
Chances are you are seeing some of these same things. While pop culture will always have trendy vernacular that differentiates one generation from the next, what we are seeing is shift that is bigger than buzzwords. Throughout history, definitive moments have marked monumental opportunities when everything we knew about the rules of influence are changing. We are living in such a moment.
Here are two of the new rules of communication:
1. You Have Unprecedented Access
For the past 200-plus years, every single president understood that the State of the Union speech was the moment when they had the ear of the nation. It was the one time a year when they had the opportunity to tout their achievements, rally supporters and gain enthusiasm for their initiatives. Our current president tweets from his own phone to millions of people, around the world, multiple times a day with no censoring. It is stream of consciousness, immediate access.
Twenty years ago, you would need to be a Fortune 500 company with 3,000 employees and a five million dollar marketing campaign to create a message that would get attention around the world. In 2018, you can be a 15-year-old kid in your bedroom, posting videos to YouTube about Minecraft and get 30 million views.
We have a new world of exponential influence available to us.
We have a new world of exponential influence available to us. The potential for organizational growth that these new methods of communication open up rivals the impact of the printing press. Our challenge is being agile in our methods and sincere in our approach.
New Approach: Create intimate connections. Trends are suggesting that podcasting is the most intimate communication medium currently available. Most podcast listeners use earbuds to partake of the content, and having your voice directly in someone’s ear has been shown to produce the same intimate connections as looking into someone’s eyes or holding hands. Not to mention that podcast engagement is the fastest growing form of information consumption.
2. People Can’t Predict their Own Behavior
Surveys don’t work and neither do consumer focus groups because people can’t predict their own behavior. This disorienting data is coming out as a result of consumer tracking and what the industry calls small data. What we are learning is that people think they are going to respond a certain way or buy a certain product, but then when they walk in a store intending to purchase chocolate cookies, the bakery at the back of the store just pulled out vanilla shortbread from the oven and the smell of fresh cookies fills the store, reminding them of when they would get off the bus from school as a kid and their mom would have vanilla shortbread cookies waiting for them. When they get to the cookie isle, it is the vanilla shortbreads that go in their cart, not the chocolate. Even though in a pre-survey they had every intention of buying the chocolate cookies, their behavior was influenced by things they couldn’t have factored into their prediction. And this happens more often than we would ever imagine.
New Approach: The new attitude in consumer attention is: “I will call you on my time, don’t call me on your time.” We as influencers need to be aware that the day of advertising stealing someone’s time is over. We have to create meaningful content, engage in sincere ways, invite others to post positive reviews on our behalf and then find ways to improve the smallest details of the lives of the people we want to message. It is in the smallest nuances that customer engagement is born. Whoever said small things don’t matter has never seen a match start a wildfire, or one off handed endorsement from an influencer, spark a buying frenzy of a product on Amazon. Stop surveying, and start creating content that resonates deeply and impacts people’s real life in meaningful ways.
There are so many exciting opportunities for leaders to increase their organization’s influence and impact. Here’s to a new frontier filled with the potential to truly change the world.