Communication Pitfalls to Avoid in 2014

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We are a good few days into the new year now and resolutions will have crashed and burned, treadmills may be running ahead of life, and to do lists are long enough to keep you in the office late again (nb see resolutions  – failed…) But new year aims are made to be broken; so instead of beating ourselves up over short term things we won’t stick to, here we look at where energies should be placed to avoid long term communications traps over the next 12 months.

Welcome to our ‘don’t list’…

1.Don’t …Talk in channels.   The real conversation you have needs to be about the story.  Channels follow that, not the other way around. People care about the emotional bit and what they can share with others, not the way in which the story reached them. It’s the sharing society we all now love and adore and channel is the messenger not the message

2…Manage in silos. Talking integrated is an omnipresent 90s hangover. But in our multi-tasking, double screen, always on reality, good story content needs to live seamlessly and benefit from proper rounded exposure to the people who need to see it. Owned, earned and paid are the trinity that need to work together more than ever, especially in the social-editorial space that is blurred to the point of being pretty much edge free

3…Get caught up in self-love. Nice packaging indeed. Exciting deal you’ve signed there.  But few really want to hear the detail. Where are ‘useful’ and ‘generous’ as content guidelines when you need them most? Hopefully to the fore because if your story isn’t ticking those boxes, then it isn’t ticking much for anybody

4…Ignore the inner geek. Time is money, as Benjamin Franklin once proclaimed for everyone to repeat ad nauseum. And although he wasn’t wrong, social media at that time was still horse powered. Now data is money too. Knowing what makes your audience sit up and take notice is what will impact the bottom line. Social media as non-commercial?? If you think that, then you aren’t analysing things properly. So time to get down and geeky with your data and the insight it can offer

5…Ignore what’s in your hand. Don’t put off mobile as a key consideration to help tell your stories any longer, if you are not there already of course. Look at what you do to communicate yourself and take a lead from there. And then think about pictures as much as words for shareable cut through. 40% of ‘Black Friday’ sales in the US came through mobile and seamless sharing of content and messages can’t miss this factor moving forward

6…Measure just in the masses. Yes, broad reach is good. But no, broad reach isn’t everything. Don’t ignore your fans at the core: make this the year to appreciate them, even if they number in the hundreds. These are the people who will spread the word if you spoil them a little with good things to share. Inner circles influence outer circles. It’s the ripple effect, and the key to making six degrees of separation theories a reality. The secret of standing out from the crowd is not to try to talk to everyone in the crowd at the same time.

7…Be kneejerk. Or of course too rigid. Social isn’t easy. But nor is it difficult all the time. Although without a strategy it can see saw too much towards the latter. Well drawn up plans of what needs to happen where and when are a thing of beauty and precision. But as part of a real time approach that keeps your conversation and content relevant, and opportunistic as well. If you aren’t listening and watching in real time, then you won’t be a part of the conversation, which is just as important as trying to lead it. The clue is in the word community: social is a forum not an ad canvas, and a place for engagement not for control. So don’t skip the strategy in favour of speed, or create a social approach that doesn’t mirror the bigger picture (see 1-6 )

8…Cross your fingers. Horsegate 2  – you know you are out there. It could be that big. Or as we have seen this year it could be rogue colleagues hitting the front pages. Misinterpreted tweets that spiral. Or made up claims that live more in fast paced social mythology than reality. Whatever the issue, don’t just hope it won’t happen. It might not – but if you don’t plan for the worst you will look back over next year’s festive yule log or Heston interpreted Stollen and nod sagely at the afterthoughts of what kept you awake at night.

These thoughts are less about trends, and more about best practices, shifting sands, audience evolution and finding time to think about alternative paths to reach your objectives. They are of course topics that live best in conversation and debate.

So we will buy the coffee and cake, you let us know where and when suits, and we can talk about the crucial ninth and tenth things to avoid on your ‘don’t’ based bingo card as well as the first eight



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