what's missing in digital communications

What's Up With Digital Communication Today?

Where have you heard these before?

"This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world."
"We live in an increasingly noisy world."

The first quote was said by none other than Apple founder Steve Jobs in 1997. The second quote comes from Lonnie Mayne, President at customer experience (CX) optimization platform InMoment and founder of Red Shoes Living. I bring these two quotes up because I've been thinking a lot about what's missing in digital communication today.

Getting away from what people want to hear

Despite the fact that there are fewer communication barriers between brands and people, there is a widening gulf. 55% of mobile phone sales were basic "dumb phones" as they are called. Even crazier? Millennials are breaking away from smartphones. I come across stats like these weekly if not daily, and they don't surprise me. Why? I think people are seeking a break from the constant contact with technology, and a lot of it stems I believe from not hearing what people want to hear.

People want to hear stories, so to speak..

Broadcasting too much too frequently is definitely a problem, and there are a lot of mixed messages about that. With so many tools at our disposal to find, understand, target and reach various audiences, the solution for overcoming ad blocking and disengagement is to actually create content we ourselves would like. I argue that we need to tap into our intuition, get back to a more human approach to advertising, marketing and public relations. Although numbers don’t lie, numbers don’t have the ability to interpret and intuit. People intuit. So in order to derive strategy and value from our tools, we need a special kind of analyst. On the quest to understand how to best communicate with the public in a digital world, data is only the magnifying glass, we need people to make the meaningful connections. Thus it is the human element that is missing and that which I believe will always be the X-factor that will bring consistent success to various industries that utilize digital channels.

No more intrusion, a little more instinct

But, and this is a big but... “how” should brands communicate —and— do we even want brands contacting us at all anymore? People are clearly not content with the way brands have been communicating with them. I myself don't find the communication coming from brands to be terribly valuable. I actually find communication to be intrusive. You find ads for brands you've been shopping for and even brands you've only barely gleamed, but none the less we're all being tracked and that can be very off putting. I was impressed by We Are Unlimited's recent McDonalds campaign (very clever), definitely appeals to the search engine side of me, but perhaps brands need to be reminded that they need to listen and build a dialogue, not just sell. Show you're human side again! I think all industries are realizing it’s insufficient to just rely on tools and volumes of data to figure out how to communicate with people online and through the other traditional mass communication channels. Having powerful digital analytics tools is great, but they can only generate their true value when paired with expertise. Relying on data alone to inform business decisions without intuition is unwise, you need more than just logic to tap into the strategies and tactics that illicit the kind of actions that generate real interest and personal investment from consumers.

Furthering Reading