The New Demographic
If there’s one thing that I learned from OC 152 over and over again, it’s the importance of how to reach and talk to your target audience. I realized that sometimes though, we tend to forget that we’re dealing with a whole new demographic group. It’s easier to just think of our audience as male and female, 18-25 years old, yuppies, class A, B, and C, Jejemon, or what have you. Yes, we can segment our audience or market. But the thing is, we treat them as a whole mass of passive eyeballs who consume both our messages and products without giving them a chance to feedback. Counter me by saying that there are surveys and market research. We still reduce them to numbers and statistics which they most certainly are not. WE are people, not numbers.
The phenomenon of New Social Media and the Internet has affected the modes of communication. By the name itself, messages and content are created by people themselves. Furthermore, people are in themselves, media. Messages are passed on from individual to individual, or from one individual to many. As more and more people are logging on to the World Wide Web, communication habits change. People with different cultures, different ages, and different backgrounds become bound together by their interests, and not just by personal networks or even nationality. People have found a way to express themselves and speak their thoughts on practically everything under the sun. The Internet has created a new demographic – a group that is defined by their interests and their being basically, social creatures who create their own messages and content.
From the OrCom perspective, organizations and companies should recognize the potential of the Internet for their processes. More than serving the organizational goal of making profit, companies should capitalize more on building relationships with their stakeholders over the Internet. Netizens appreciate it more if companies make the effort of reaching out and conversing with them rather than bombarding them with advertisements.
Now since I think I bored you with this quite academic entry, I’ll make it up to you in this second part. As part of both the new demographic and the OrCommunity, I think I can say something on what we netizens like and don’t like with companies’ communication strategies.
1. Enough with the ads. We don’t notice them anyway. If you insist, make sure we get Wowed. And if you DO advertise, place ads on appropriate sites. Products that are irrelevant to the interests of a certain community will get looked at with disdain.
2. Creative marketing and PR campaigns are much better than static ads. Create blogs, microblogs, viral videos, interactive and dynamic microsites, online games, and much more.
2.1 Treat blogs like a journal, not another site for press releases. The feeling of actually reading a company’s day to day life (or its CEO) makes us feel that they’re just like us, ordinary people.
2.2 Viral videos should be as unique and as crazy as possible. Seriously. The shock value of the video and a clever placement of the product does wonders for brand retention.
2.3 Interactive content like mini-games, flash applications, applets, discussion boards, videos, audio clips, and special features for sites and microsites draw netizens by virtual busloads.
2.4 For all these, do not think “advetising.” Think engagement and interaction.
3. Do not make it hard for us good netizens to search for information on your website. Have a good clean layout with relaxing colors. All the extra pizzazz do not guarantee customer satisfaction. Also, make sure that everything that all FAQs are there in a short but precise format. It’s just too easy to close a tab nowadays. And most of all, we hate sites that do not give us the information we’re looking for. READ: complete details, please.
4. We love on-time answers to our inquiries, complaints, and suggestions. Prompt replies are much appreciated. I also think that standard replies shouldn’t echo those rehearsed lines that we hear over the phone. A little bit more friendly tone won’t hurt.
5. When we comment on Facebook or reply on Twitter, it would be great if we can hear from your company. Don’t treat SNS as a fan counter. Treat them like direct lines to your customers and even crisis management and PR tools.
6. Keep discussion boards and forums open. Do not discourage customers to say anything about your brand and product. Improvements and innovations come from keeping an open mind and line of communication. Don’t be afraid to collaborate.
7. Be fun, unique, and interesting. Try to shed off as much “big corporation” aura as you can. We hate it when you pull the untouchable impression on us.
8. If you can’t reach us, reach our friends. Their persuasion powers are greater than yours.
One final piece of advice: ask yourselves what your online habits are and what would catch and retain your attention. Think of what you like and don’t like with regard to the online efforts of other companies and products that you see. What kind of response do you want to get from the company? What do you want to see? What do you want to know?
Ask yourself as a netizen. You’ll know.