The importance of designing effective communication strategies for new media
Summary The theme of this post is the importance of designing effective communication strategies for new media. Starting from the…
The theme of this post is the importance of designing effective communication strategies for new media.
Starting from the definition of new media, we will outline their main characteristics and consequently all the advantages that a company can have through a well-built communication strategy.
We will then move on to briefly list what makes a solid strategy, emphasizing the importance of some preliminary steps, such as the analysis of the target, and subsequent ones, such as the evaluation through metrics.
An effective communication strategy
Every time we talk about communication, there is the risk of falling into a misunderstanding.
Often, communication is associated with a spontaneous and contingent action, because communication is a natural function.
However, communicating is not something so immediate, especially when it can be done through a new medium.
On the contrary, it is necessary to build a real strategy that ensures communication that is effective and above all suitable for the message and the channel you want to use.
In this sense, communication is not only a fundamental part of marketing, but it receives valuable guidance and tools to become even sharper from the marketing function.
After all, now more than ever brands and companies need to communicate and do it in the right way, to make sure they reach consumers (or users) with messages that are perceived as truly relevant.
Obviously, building an effective communication strategy is not easy and, indeed, there are many things to take into account in order to stand out and be competitive in the market.
But concretely, what does it mean to create an effective communication strategy for new media?
New media, new rules
To answer the question, we must first start by defining what is “new media”.
According to the most widely used definition on the internet, new media are “those means of mass communication developed after the birth of information technology and in correlation with it.” (wikipedia.org).
In other words, it’s about digital media, the channels that have spread and are used as technology advances.
Already from here, it is clear that the size of the category is very wide and includes within it elements that are very different from each other, such as CDs and DVDs if used for advertising purposes or not, websites, email (always if used as a tool for mass communication), in-store radio, video games, and mobile phones.
New media, of course, are closely linked to the internet, which is, in a way, the common thread that unites them all (except, perhaps, for CDs, DVDs, and radio if they are not digital).
The web, obviously, is not the only thing that unites them: there are several characteristics that are shared by all these media and that, in some way, represent their most distinctive aspects.
The first is convergence since technological progress has made it possible to “converge” the telephone, television, and electronic calculator into a few devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) that are able to access the web and reproduce the content in different formats, such as images or video.
The second specific characteristic of the new media is the fact that they are participatory. Users are no longer simple passive recipients of content; on the contrary, they have the possibility to “activate” these media when they want in order to search for or request certain services (in this sense, they are also personal).
But this search is never unambiguous: often those who search for something can also create something else that is then enjoyed by others. This means that the public is not just an audience, but is an integral part of the communication channels, also because creativity is widespread, to the point that some users can become real creators and “content distributors.”
In this sense, new media are also interactive, providing multiple levels of action by users who contribute according to their inclination to the enrichment of information and content on the internet.
Finally, new media is pervasive; today, we are constantly reached by multiple simultaneous stimuli during any activity: from shopping to booking a trip, to working.
The strategy is also born from the target
Already from these first characteristics listed, it is possible to receive important indications on how a communication strategy for new media must be.
On the other hand, every time a communication strategy is created, it is necessary to keep in mind the type of channel that is to be used or that is available, since, having certain characteristics and specificities, not all content is suitable for effective distribution.
However, the medium is not the only variable that influences a communication strategy. On the contrary, there are also many other factors to consider and which often weigh against the choice of communication channel.
When building a communication strategy, it is necessary to first define all the messages you want to convey and the target you want to reach.
For the message, if you need to communicate the value (or values) to be highlighted – usually the fewer they are, the more effectively they can be communicated – as far as the target is concerned, you’ll need to perform a careful and precise analysis.
The new media, in fact, being so pervasive, make it possible to reach a large number of users, even very different from each other.
On the one hand, this is a great advantage, since it’s possible to communicate to a very wide audience; on the other hand, however, not identifying a specific audience means substantially risking that the message loses its strength and is dispersed among many users who are either not interested nor even “suitable” for the message.
This means that before any type of communication, it is necessary to identify the people you want to communicate to.
In this sense, it is essential to define the relevant personas for communication, i.e. the “ideal profiles” of individuals that you imagine you will have to approach.
Obviously, the greater the precision with which these individuals are outlined, the more effective your strategy will be and the more your content will be perceived as relevant by them.
Moreover, knowledge of the target audience is fundamental because it not only makes any strategy “sharper,”, but also because it helps to decide which media to use.
A medium for each persona
To understand how important the definition of personas can be for the strategic choice of media to be used, it’s enough to take social networks as an example, which are the main communication channels to activate when talking about a digital communication strategy.
Facebook is the most popular social network in the world, with over 2.5 million active users (although growth is slowing down and the average age of users is constantly increasing) (socialmediamarketing.it).
The large number of users on Facebook makes it undoubtedly a very transversal social media channel, but for this reason also very dispersive: it will be necessary, therefore, to work carefully to identify the right people according to their interests.
In any case, it is a “place” where people enjoy distracting themselves, and this means that the communication strategy must include content that is engaging and able to capture the attention of users.
The discussion is different for Instagram, the social channel that is primarily for images. Here, the average age of users is lower and the attention is no longer linked to entertainment but to the aspirational aspect.
For this reason, the social media feed must be built with attention to every detail and each single image must be consistent with your company’s positioning.
If Instagram is useful to reach young people, LinkedIn, on the other hand, is the platform to reach professionals and experts in various fields.
The audience of this platform is mainly composed of people interested in business networking, where members utilize the platform to communicate with companies and to highlight their skills.
Your strategy will have to take this into account and employ a specific tone of voice (even specific to the vertical of interest, depending on your segmentation) and content that is informative, in order to position the company as in touch and innovative.
With a strategy, you can control time
Defining a communication strategy has a big advantage, which is that of being able to “control” time, that is, to manage it in one’s favor, making each action relevant also and above all according to the period in which it is carried out.
Within your strategy, you can decide to create “instant” content designed to last for a short time and to cover specific moments or situations (think, for example, of live-tweeting during an event or the type of real-time content that is typical of Facebook) or, alternately, content that builds a longer narrative and requires more time to consume it.
This second type of content usually occurs when you decide to adopt a content marketing strategy, since storytelling on new media requires a longer time horizon: digital storytelling is similar to a mosaic, in which all the pieces, one after the other, eventually form the final design (forbes.com).
Among other things, establishing a communication strategy also allows you to plan the timing of your message, to your story that you have decided to tell.
By doing so, it is much easier, at the end, to draw conclusions and evaluate whether or not your strategy was effective.
A strategy makes it possible to evaluate one’s own story
Another reason to build a precise and organic communication strategy is precisely this: to have a greater awareness of the effectiveness of the actions taken.
In fact, every strategy must also include a quantitative analysis phase.
Although communication is often an intangible area linked to creativity and relationship-building, it must also be able to adapt to the results.
To do so, you’ll need to identify precise metrics.
There are four main metrics that you need to consider:
- 1. The quantitative fruition of content;
- The total sharing of content;
- Generic lead generation (e.g., newsletter subscriptions, ebook and whitepaper downloads);
- Sales generation and increased business turnover.
Obviously, all four are relevant, but not all in the same way, since any communications strategy should identify specific goals and factor in metrics accordingly.
If the strategy has been imagined with the aim of increasing awareness, then the first metric will be more relevant. However, if conversion is the goal, then metrics related to lead generation and possibly content sharing will have greater weight.
The best strategies never happen by themselves
In conclusion, having a communication strategy is crucial, because improvisation rarely leads to good results.
That’s why it’s important to build, analyze, and plan everything, and to do so, it’s necessary to rely on professionals capable of performing specific tasks that can ensure that your communications are relevant.
An example is the digital strategist, a role that is very in demand today.
The digital strategist can synthesize the creative and the more marketing-oriented aspects of communication, and they are usually tasked with managing the media assets, especially when it comes to choosing the right sponsorship opportunities.
Obviously, help can also come from outside, not just from one’s own employees, perhaps choosing suppliers capable of providing the ideal technological tools to help you exploit new media.
From this point of view, Babelee is an excellent example, since it allows the creation of personalized videos through very easy and intuitive functions, thus giving everyone the opportunity to take advantage of automation for creating and disseminating content on new media, without the need to employ resources for ad hoc production.
This, too, means knowing how to properly exploit the new media, taking advantage of the new technologies available to make your communication relevant. Knowing how to identify the best solutions to obtain the best results is also strategy.
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