Digital tech is re-wiring our brains & reshaping how we communicate
The digital age is rapidly changing communications management in astronomical ways. Everything is digitized now. All businesses are online, and each of them use social media for all kinds of communication. This only means one thing — the way business communicates with the customer has changed forever. The art of communication is very different today than it was a mere two decades ago when our access to data was limited. The Internet has altered not only how we get information but also how we express ourselves. Digital technology is re-wiring our brains and reshaping how we communicate. The Internet has turned careful, deliberate readers into hungry information predators. Power scanning, instead of deep reading, is something we all do.
New digital tools make it easier for people to access content. The rise of video, audio, graphics and interactive features gives content producers the ammunition to fight battles in the name of knowledge. Words, pictures, and symbols – the very shape of content – is evolving before our eyes. The written word isn’t going away, but is being transformed. The days of straight running text on paper as our principal means of expressing ideas and delivering information are numbered as new digital tools change our communication landscape. New tools and technologies, along with new attitudes, are changing all that. For some this transformation is liberating… for others, it’s terrifying. The nature of conversation and communication has changed dramatically. We find ourselves communicating faster, more frequently, over greater distances, and with many more people. Because of technology every business is now doing business globally; there are almost no meaningful geographic boundaries any more. When a company needs to engage its market, it sends tweets, or create eye catching statuses on facebook. If it needs to expound on matters i.e. updates, important develoments, or new product launches, and social media limits the execution, then they can blog about them on their sites.
YouTube gives us shared video experiences. Webinars and web conferences help us present and learn online. Blogs let us glimpse into someone’s thoughts. Facebook, we share titbits from our personal lives. Each tool connects us to our network and the world in its own way. These new tools and technologies enable tangible global connections, expanding business opportunities and hurdling geographic boundaries through speed-of-light communications. But every day we walk a fine line between technological convenience and the loss of real human connections. Today, we are in real danger of losing vital human connections with the increasing shift to impersonal email, phone calls and text- and document-based social media.
Here are a few suggestions and techniques to manage the transition:
Be Interactive and Dynamic: Today’s audiences don’t want to merely read about something – they want to experience it. New multimedia tools facilitate a bidirectional dialogue that engages as it informs. Users are taking advantage of new applications that personalize information. Interactive maps and tools that calculate numbers specific to the user’s needs are just a sampling of hands-on applications that make information gathering a more dynamic experience.
Communicate Visually and Limit Text: No one wants to read too much text. Dense paragraphs are like death sentences in the digital world where information is increasingly communicated through visual means.
Communicate in a Nonlinear Way: Digital age people want to choose how to experience content on their own – and it’s usually not in a straight line. Users create their own paths to the information they want most – not depending on an author to direct them.
Provide Multiple Entry Points: The users enter into an interface at a point of their choosing. We no longer have to start with the introduction and muddle through an obligatory up front discussion.
Make Content Digestible: Short, crisp and to the point is how digitally minded audiences like it. People prefer to read no more than 1,000 words at a time.
Engage Audiences in a Conversation: Social media enables us to engage in conversation, if not debate. Interactive applications, too, engage the reader in a way that feels more customized. Craft communications that speak directly to individuals – not an anonymous group of people.
Always be Transparent: Information seekers today believe in transparency. Be truthful and forthcoming.
Communication is at the centre of business and is instrumental in accomplishing business goals. In 2012, 84% of Americans went online daily. Around the world, 85% of those who are online use email and 62% use social media. Each year the world becomes increasingly digitalised and the communication professional of tomorrow must be prepared for the new landscape. Baby Boomers are using full prose and meetings, while the Millennials are using acronyms and 140 character soundbites. Technology is making all of us more efficient, but it’s also making us more lazy, when it comes to communication. The digital revolution has given us the ability to easily copy and replicate things. While this maybe helpful in championing a product on the digital highway, it also means managers will need to work harder to protect their original ideas, product innovations, and copyrighted insights.
Here are few digital trailblazers with brilliant digital strategies:
AO.com as an example of ecommerce best practice. AO.com has also had success on social media, growing its Facebook following significantly, from 2,500 to 1m in the space of two years.
A Qubit UX study showed IKEA to be second top out of a selection of homeware retailers when it came to online experience. IKEA has been innovating on Facebook, too, where it has enjoyed many successful campaigns.
Volkswagen stands out for its usable website (in contrast to many others in automotive), bold content marketing and success with video that does well on TV and online.
Natural human conversational components, such as real-time gestures and physical reactions, are vital to our business and social success. They are essential to driving true human connections that build bonds, enhance trust and strengthen relationships. And, we are six times more likely to retain information when presented with both oral and visual elements. Effective communication lies at the heart of a successful business. Without being able to communicate, a team will have more difficulty accomplishing goals and interacting with customers. The digital age has brought real-time, 24-hour communication between businesses, employees and customers to the forefront. What is the result of this digital shift? Maintaining positive relationships with both employees and customers means keeping up with an ever-evolving digital world.
“Every interaction — virtual or in-person — should be human”