In the 1950’s the telephone became mainstream for business communication. In the 1970’s it was the fax machine, and email became part of the everyday working life in the 1990’s. Each of these technology break throughs have allowed the faster sharing of information.
In today’s world it’s about being online. Social networks and the growth of the Internet have changed the way your customers communicate to their peers and this has impacted the way businesses talk to their customers and prospects.
5 to 10 years ago the communication framework was very much based around a ‘Broadcast’ model.
- Institutional control
- Publishing focused
It was all about YOU talking to YOUR customers, but not really letting them getting involved in the conversation. TV, Print, Radio and most Websites are generally one way forms of communication.
In today’s world, the communication framework is now very much based around a ‘Collaboration’ based model.
- Consumer’s have control
- Contribution focused
- Communication based model
Your customers are talking about you and your brand, to their peers, you need to get involved in that conversation. Everyone now is a web publisher, a food critic, fashion blogger and wannabe journalist. They have an opinion to share (and will share).
These days you need to have multiple online touch points to gain the right exposure to your target audience – it’s about two way communication.
Share what you know with your audience, and respond to their feedback.
- Connect with your customer
- Encourage them to your online assets
- Participate with your fan base
- Use Twitter and Facebook
- Be open with your community
- Ratings and reviews help here
- Communicate with your customers
- Blogging and Email newsletters are fantastic for this
All of this will create your online community
Case Study: Starbucks
Starbucks is considered to be a pioneer in the digital space. They maintain many primary digital touch points:
- Their website – www.starbucks.com – which tells their story and explains their products and their commitment to sustainable coffee.
- Each region also has their own website with unique content (e.g. ‘.com.au’).
- A Facebook page, which it uses to communicate with fans internationally
- A Twitter feed, which serves largely as a customer service channel
- A YouTube channel, where the company posts videos ranging from branded content to short documentaries of its charitable work
- MyStarbucksIdea.com, a digital suggestion box where customers can submit their ideas for products or services.
- Smartphone applications for store locations and opening hours
- Using Foursquare as another channel for customer feedback.
The next communication shift is happening right now. It’s in real time, it’s social and it’s shaped by how we interact on the web outside of office hours.