Bridging the Gap Between Communication and Connection #53 #cong17

Synopsis:

In the “new media” era, it has never been more important for companies to constantly innovate in how they communicate with their online communities.

The ever-increasing range of platforms create an incredible opportunity for brands to connect with their audiences in new, creative and engaging ways.

However, the era also brings countless challenges as companies must always be ready to adapt to the new ways in which consumers access and process content, whether it be through language, visuals or a combination of the two.

At bonkers.ie, which was founded in 2010, we have been at the frontline of the ever-changing face of online communications and have had to constantly innovate in order to deliver our message to audiences in ways that will add most value to them.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Social media marketing communication is a two way street, be open for engagement with your community, be it inquisitive, positive or critical.
  2. Language is fluid and changeable, don’t be afraid to play around with new ways of communicating your message in your copy.
  3. Technology moves at breakneck speed, to keep ahead of the curve, constant maintenance is required. Don’t assume that community management methods you put in place a year or even 6 months ago are still relevant.
  4. Adapt your messaging to suit the format/channel/platform you’re using. Understand the environment in which your marketing messages are going to be consumed.

About Robyn Hamilton:

Robyn Hamilton works as a copywriter and online content creator for comparison switching site, bonkers.ie. She developed her interest in content marketing while pursuing her Master’s Degree In Advertising at the Dublin Institute of Technology. Before that, she completed a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies and French at Trinity College Dublin.

Contacting Robyn Hamilton:

You can follow Robyn on Twitter or email her.

By Robyn Hamilton.

The impact of digitalisation on the craft of copywriting

Back in 2016, I researched and wrote my Master’s dissertation exploring the impact of digital on the craft of copywriting in marketing communications. Fast forward a year and a half, and I find that many of the resulting insights from my study are having a direct impact on the work I’m currently carrying out in the communications department of personal finance website, bonkers.ie.

In pre-digital days, the copywriter’s primary role was to write marketing copy that engaged the consumer’s attention in a creative way, to leave a lasting and memorable impression – and preferably drive an action. These remain the core duties of a good copywriter but the role now also entails a whole host of other skills. It’s no longer just about the ability to write creatively; nowadays to write effective copy that engages, encourages and enables sharing, the copywriter has to consider communication objectives, online platforms, digital devices, keywords, plus social media formats, and data analytics in addition to being able to write to entertain and inform. And let’s not forget that everything now also needs to be done in half the time or less – digitalisation has dramatically sped up every part of the marketing communication process; including research, production, processing and dissemination.

New media means new ways of communicating

The introduction and mass proliferation of a new kind of interactive marketing communication model, made possible by the rise of social media networks, means that marketing messages are now a two-way street. Interactivity between brand and consumer means tone of voice and the ability to communicate ‘with’ rather than ‘at’ the consumer is key. Copy needs to be less imperative and more conversational, friendly and approachable in tone. In other words, it needs to speak in the vernacular of its various audiences and be open to response and dialogue.

We are well and truly past the birth of the digital era, but there can be a lag in implementing new theories and models of communication to effective use, especially considering the light-speed at which technology is progressing when it comes to online marketing messaging. This, indeed, is where innovation is required.

Implementation in action at bonkers.ie

Hired as a copywriter and online content creator for bonkers.ie back in March of this year, I am very proud to have played a key role in the ongoing development and innovation of our online communications strategy, with a particular focus on social media.

When I began working for bonkers.ie, there were a number of elements to our communications strategy that remained constant and had been so for some time. Between the members of our team, we aimed to write and publish at least one post to our company blog per day. Said post would then be circulated on our primary social media channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. We would then respond to any questions or comments made on those posts. Once a week we would host a live round-up video on Facebook, summarising the main news in personal finance for that week. Finally, once a month we would send out an email newsletter to a list of subscribers, rounding up the month’s news, including relevant links to blog posts written throughout the month.

These were our three main methods of community management and communication, and though effective in their own right, like any ongoing process, they warranted continued monitoring and development to work towards a goal of amelioration.

We knew that our content was adding value in the short-term (when the content was published), but we began to consider ways to build long-lasting relationships through ongoing interaction and engagement. We were very focused on volume output and not enough on community engagement to ensure that our messages were being heard and engaged with; in other words we were talking ‘at’, but now it was time to talk ‘with’ the consumer, as discussed earlier.

Developing a new tone of voice

Noting this, we decided to overhaul how we approached our communications, with a particular focus on social media. In terms of copy, the first thing we decided to change significantly was the company’s tone of voice. Up until this point we had endeavoured to sound authoritative, informative but friendly and fairly approachable. With our primary goal to increase community engagement, we decided to adopt a more familiar and conversational to encourage interaction. Consequently, in addition to familiarising our language with colloquialisms and occasional slang, we began capitalising more on topical hashtags, as well as using popular emoji shorthand or gif reactions where relevant or appropriate. In conjunction with this move, we began to invest a lot more time interacting with customers in comments sections, via retweets and in direct/private messages.

Adapting content to new environments

With a new video production assistant joining the team in August, we also began looking into ways to innovate and dramatically improve our video output. Taking into account today’s average newsfeed, cluttered as it is with videos all demanding attention, we moved focus away from long live videos and towards shorter, pre-recorded, edited and overall better produced segments. Many of these pieces are more ‘evergreen’ and less topical in nature, and consequently have a longer shelf life in terms of relevance to our customers. To maximise views and engagement we also adapted video output formats; opting for a square portrait view (as opposed to landscape) for Facebook videos, which makes videos easier to view on smartphone screens and also adding subtitles to all videos, taking into account that the majority of videos watched on social media are watched with the sound off.

The results 

So, you must be wondering? Did all, and does all of this ongoing innovation have a significant impact? Well let’s take a look at some examples. Below you can view a snapshot of our Twitter analytics for the month of October 2016 as compared to October 2017, which more or less speak for themselves:

Despite the fact that the volume output of tweets did not largely change; impressions, profile visits, mentions and new followers dramatically increased. In the two further examples below we’ve taken our top tweet from October 2016 and our top tweet from the same month the following year. These examples demonstrate perfectly the contrast between our old strategy and the new one.

In the 2016 example, the language used is friendly but somewhat formal in nature, lacking personality and the tweet itself is fairly functional. In the 2017 example, we have utilised a few of examples discussed earlier. First of all, we capitalised on a trending hashtag of the day #Ophelia, which of course referenced hurricane Ophelia which was battering the country that day. The tone is familiar and somewhat cheeky, utilising emojis to suggest that people use their downtown at home sheltering from the storm to switch their gas and electricity and consequently drive traffic towards our website.

Conclusion

When I began pursuing a career in copywriting and content marketing, I didn’t anticipate just how much innovation goes into the daily upkeep to stay ahead of the curve outside of the ideation process for content creation but I can’t deny that I relish the opportunity to greet new challenges every day. I can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner.

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