There was a time when a brand communicated with its consumer, by first deciding on what to say, where to say it and then let the consumer react to it. Not anymore. Today, brand communication has completely flipped over. Brands now, are listening to what people are saying, and then finding a way to tell their story to their consumers on a channel that the consumers use. That is not all. Brands are tripping over each other to make the consumers their brand ambassadors. Today, a blogger with 50000 monthly readerships is a huge influencer for any company and it will do anything to use him as its mouth piece.
Making it Happen
It is no secret that this flip was triggered with the advent of digital and/or technology based communication. Social Media, Blogs & Mobile Apps backed by the data generated through online browsing has made the communication process a lot more than just emotional connection. It has evolved into being a socio-science with technology enabling that shift.
This change in communication process has been fuelled by technologies that have been democratized for consumers by channels of their choice. Companies like Facebook and Google are empowering people to evolve the way they communicate. This evolution of communication process forces companies to adopt newer technologies. Facebook Live, a service launched about a year ago, moved media channels from a television set to mobile devices. What is more, Facebook, Twitter and Google are now producing their own content. Facebook studios across the world, #Blueroom from Twitter and Hangout Zones from Google are seeing exclusive content being generated which have millions of people tuning to these channels.
Another technology intervention which is fast making digital communication personal, is the Bot Technology. In mid of May, Mercedes Benz India launched its “50 Years of AMG” chat bot on Facebook.
In April, Subway launched a Facebook Messenger Bot that enabled consumers to place an order as well as pay for it within the Messenger environment. Suddenly, all those “likes” that were sitting there on a brand’s page have become direct revenue source. Brands are now realizing how to extract maximum benefit from a previously untapped channel. All it needs is to have a bot that can be accessed from a mobile device.
Speaking of mobile devices, they have, by themselves revolutionized the process of brand communication. With mobile internet penetration rapidly increasing, newer markets have opened up. Not only that, newer technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are now becoming easily accessible to a larger audience. Tata Tiago created a sensation last year, when they released a virtual drive experience through leading newspapers in India. Suddenly, science fiction became a reality and in the hands of general public. More brands have followed suite.
Word of Caution
This advancement in technology has led to a gripping fear in the industry. Fear of missing the bus is driving a mad rush for brands to adopt latest technologies, creating a big risk trap for brands. Adopting a technology for the sake of it does not lead a brand anywhere. A technology should be adopted because it fits the overall goal and objectives of the brand and not because it is in vogue.
Another trap that brands must avoid is creating content without real value. With the booming of digital platforms, everyone is seeing an avalanche of content hitting them. In such an environment, if a brand story does not stand out and induces a reaction from the consumer, it would be wasted effort. In such a scenario, it would be wiser to have automated content sent out via a bot which can be far more targeted and personal to elicit a response.
Similarly, it is predicted that with 20% of all digital communication becoming Bot led by 2018, the need for qualified marketers will grow. This may be seen as a reduction in non-qualified resource. What it means though, is that more and more qualified candidates will be needed. People who understand both technology as well as storytelling.
Planning for Future
It is not easy to tell a story in a cluttered environment, where a consumer has very little attention span. This makes it imperative for a brand manager to be absolutely sure of what they seek. In order to plan for the future, brand managers need to identify and understand the personas of their consumer. This understanding can then be leveraged by brands to choose the platform which best enables them to address that persona with a technology that enhances the overall story telling experience. Brands should also be open to adopt the technology with right milestones chalked out. Many a times, brands take up a technology without knowing how to drive it. But if tackled rightly, technology can help unlock a revenue channel which was unimaginable when brand sent out their messages on their terms.
About the Author
Mayur Milan, Founder Director & CEO, Ourbit Digital Mayur is an engineer with a master in communication. One of the early adopters of digital/social communication profession, Mayur has worked on some of the biggest brands such as Microsoft, HDFC Bank, ITC Hotels & Bajaj Allianze to name a few. Mayur is also a guest faculty in various media institutes. He is also engaged in Animal Welfare and conducts Ethical Leadership workshops.