The end of communication as we know it

Recently, I delivered a speech about Innovative Communication. The purpose was to share with a group of communicators what it takes to be at the same time innovative and efficient in this fast-evolving world. In this post, you will find the content of this presentation.

First of all, let me give you a bit of context. 1. The pace of change is is going to accelerate. Technologies change exponentially. Organizations carry out their digital transformation. New usages and new ways of doing business emerge everyday. 2. We are heading towards a new map of the world, without frontiers, with always new influencers, new behaviours… no limits? Networks and communities grow fast in an often unpredictable way, with limited existence but huge impact on History. 3. Slowly, but surely, more products will cost “one euro”. Expectations are high for services, this is also how brands will make a difference.

In 2015, it is all about shouting very very loud, or:

  • Think twice before developing new communication spaces. With the current proliferation of data, it becomes harder to attract audiences. Be where your audience is has never been so crucial as communicators can spend a lot of energy trying to make people come to their content…
  • …Except for niches ! Smartphone owners aged 25-44 use the greatest number of apps per month, 29 apps, on average. Even those aged 55+ spend more than 21 hours across an average of 22 different apps per month (Source: Nielsen). Shifting from one channel to another for a specific purpose becomes the new habit and is not just a generation thing. In other words, if communicators make a proposal with high-value, people will follow, without too many difficulties.
  • Relationships and authenticity. Communicators need to use their employees as first brand ambassadors. They will have to stop communication means that reflect internal bureaucracy and develop new ones based on values.
  • Personalized communications. People expect from communicators to become community managers and get to a segment of one. On their side, organizations need to understand new behaviours in order to offer services that really respond to needs. Communicators will play an instrumental role in delivering this service.
  • Crowdsourcing and co-creation. Organizations will ask their customers and stakeholders to improve their services with them. Communicators need to learn how to make effective crowdsourcing. They will also communicate more successfully if they promote experience to share.
  • Dynamic and mobile first. 1 billion people will connect to Internet from their mobile phones only, in 2015 (source: Ovum). Mobile drives the shift. “Content is king, Context is King Kong and Distribution is Godzilla”. It becomes even more important to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time. Flash content, very short, personalized, responsive. Native Advertising works well.
  • A more strategic approach to digital in an omni-channel strategy. Communicators are requested to understand the real value brought by Digital and to mix it with other channels to offer the best value. It is time to reintroduce face-to-face which is still the most effective communication channel. We are all phygital animals, people expect the same responsiveness from Digital than face-to-face.
  • Visual Marketing Domination: Posts with visuals receive 94% more page visits than without. 90% of the content shared in 2016 will be videos.
  • A close look at the Learning revolution. Communicators need to understand the new way in which people learn. This provides great opportunities to communicate effectively: MOOC, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Enterprise social media, etc.
  • And content curators. Communicators have become essentially content curators. On top of this, they need to invest more into curation sites: in this world saturated with information, it has become a very powerful tactic to attract new followers. Especially for Institutions.

Obviously, it is not enough to optimize our traditional methods. We really need to reinvent our role, developing new types of innovation and creativity. I believe the communication function is going through a deep digital transformation. Like in any other business, the only way to survive is to be connected and Social Listen. In some organizations, we have become knowledge managers, collaboration specialists and digital transformation experts. That is ransom of success!

I will give a presentation on a related topic at King Baudouin Foundation in Brussels on 13 February.

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Everyone is a media outlet

The pace of change is accelerating. People develop new behaviours and use cases every day for the most recent technologies available, starting with:

  • Everyone can become a medium

Anyone can share any feedback or experience, post videos or pictures, directly without intermediates. Organizations will need to find innovative ways to increase the number of times people talk about them positively.

  • Everyone requests relationships

Consumers need to adhere to brand values. This is because they will adhere to values, that they will create a lasting relationship with the brands. Thanks to new technologies available, organizations will finally be able to turn staff, which is their first audience, into ambassadors. Those ambassadors will play an instrumental role in communicating brand values more widely.

  • Shared experience

Since everyone is a media outlet, organizations will need to develop stories and experience to share. Proposals must have a high added-value. A vision and a strategic narrative about the “why” need to be co-written with staff and top-fans. Organizations will learn how to generate buzz from shared experience, and stand out in a saturated information environment (ex: Ice Bucket Challenge).

  • Co-creation

Organizations no longer have control over the messages. From a passive audience, they will develop active promoters and top-fans. Don’t forget that they can be “game-changers”. Audiences will have an important role to play to improve services, especially when products will only cost one euro. Organizations will have to learn how to make effective crowd-sourcing.

  • Consistency

People request coherence online and offline. They are used to move from one application to another. Regardless of the generation, what people want is a consistent and unique experience. Organizations will have to develop a good omni-channel strategy (vs multi-channel).

  • And local stories

Messages need to be translated into local stories. Witness the success of digital radio stations, for example. Strategic partners and stakeholders will be instrumental in making messages more local.

Everyone is a media is definitely a good reason to initiate the digital transformation of your organization. Still many questions for sure, but how many opportunities?