This has always been the goal, even though it had another name in the past. Today it takes on another value and takes more strength when traditional media decline and social networks and digital media prevail. I believe that all communication professionals are well-intentioned but get lost in the way of achieving it. Here, I list the most frequent reasons that are committed to failing in that objective.
Connecting with the audience is something that everyone talks about easily today, but few achieve. It is very selling in communication or marketing plans to see the concept but very rare to find strategies to achieve it and indicators to measure it. The term for many is nothing more than positively relating to others. There is no doubt that that could be, but in communication, the meaning is greater because the connection will determine the future of the source with its audience and the acceptance of its message. I would say that the real connection is the union of ideas or interests to create a new relationship of mutual acceptance, constant appreciation, and shared benefit. Something higher than the engagement.
To better understand the concept to implement it, we have to see that connection is the highest state of the 4Cs that govern modern communication through social networks and digital media. It is the state that should be reached with the audience to be united by the same objectives. The question arises, how can it be possible if we all have different goals? The answer is simple. Look for the elements that are common between the audience and the source. These elements must be translated into the way the audience and the source are shared and how they associate with their purposes. Simply, build messages with architecture that takes into account the attributes of the audience, exploiting their emotionality, and being consistent with the positions of the source.
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Now that the concept of connection is briefly defined, you can see all the factors that must be taken into account to achieve it and therefore understand where most communication professionals fail. It is important to say that to have a good connection with the audience it is mandatory to consider the following elements and incorporate them into the communication strategies that are planned to be carried out. They need to be understood, adapted, and applied by professionals. It is not to write them in a plan and make them look great. They must also defend, preserve and update them in their respective offices and work plans. Using them once does not guarantee the connection is permanent use. Professionals who do not adapt to the new times or doubt the elements presented below due to training or experience will struggle more to achieve a good connection.
- Areas. The new media have added to the two traditional communication spheres, collective and personal, (typical of traditional media) a very important third, which is the individual. This new communication space is provided by wireless mobile devices together with the internet and social networks. This new area means that the audience must be fed with content, forms, and methods of effective and specific communication for the audience. If someone believes that to be informed or be part of the current world trend, it is necessary to read a newspaper, watch news TV or listen to radio news he is already wrong. Today the general audience, young and old, is connected to a social network, and there it is informed, it is supplied with content, forms an opinion, and takes positions on the issues. The mistake will be to believe that the traditional media play the determining role of before and that feeding the media is more important than the audience individually. The media must be taken into account to close the information circle as an accessory element of the message but not as a vital element.
- Proportionality: understanding the first point, we can mention the second, which refers to the percentage of traditional media or new media that a strategy or plan must-have. Ideally, you would say 50% each. The reality is, no. While one component will be higher than the other, the real ratio will depend on factors, such as messages, audience, context, habits, and demographics. All of them will make it not 50-50. Normally, the proportionality would be 80% new media and 20% traditional media. In some cases, it is high for traditional media. These percentages indicate that the individual scope is prioritized, and the challenge of creating content for the new media, which is the largest volume, is raised. The mistake made by many is to ignore this reality and persist in the traditional media, attending to historical sympathies or other factors of emotional attachment that deviate from effectiveness for the connection. Non-technological professionals are also wrong because of ignorance or fear of innovation.
- Levels: Accepting the second point, here are the five levels of communication that must be overcome to achieve a good connection. Each message must penetrate the audience at the highest level to get a stable connection. This must overcome the four previous elements to reach the top. To achieve this, each message must be constructed to satisfy from the lowest to the highest level. The five levels from bottom to top are as follows: 5. Information, 4. Attraction, 3. Infatuation, 2. Fascination, 1. Acceptance. For a message to connect the source with its audience, it must have elements that satisfy all levels in such a way that the only thing that the individual can do is accept and assume it. Thus the new relationship of mutual acceptance, constant appreciation, and shared benefit are created. The most repeated error in these levels is the creation of messages that only reach the fifth level or that in the best case reach the fourth. There is no creation to reach higher, and every opportunity is wasted.
4. Benefits: It should speak of two types of benefits. The strategic and operational. According to a study done in England, the strategic benefits allow the audience to be the main ally of the source and will be completely open to the CTAs that are made when the connection is achieved. The benefit of marketing communication will be very important. Also, the strategic benefit can be defined as one that facilitates the manipulation of the audience, as it was called in past decades. On the other hand, the operating benefits are four. One that the 4Cs are perfectly satisfied. Two that it uses zero media as the most difficult obstacle to overcome. Three the cost is less, arguably only 1/3 of traditional media in any campaign. Fourth that all the performance of each message or each campaign is measurable in a unique and detailed way for correction or optimization purposes, which is not allowed by traditional media. The mistake made here is to ignore this reality or skip using it for whatever reason.
Most communication professionals who are unaware of all these concepts or even company owners or senior executives frequently think that by opening social media accounts and hiring a Community Manager, the problem will be solved. Others who have digital teams believe that adding paid advertising to their social networks will achieve the objectives. The answer to these and other initiatives not aligned to a strategic communication plan is that they will not work and will waste time and money. Actions such as targeting, micro-targeting, viralization, gaming, one-to-one segmentation, and many other options must be incorporated into the routines of digital teams. Achieving the connection with the audience must be the main objective and not secondary. It must be measured and have strong KPIs. A connected audience will bring with it positioning and reputation, which is another permanent goal. The connection with the audience that is everyone’s goal will come from knowing how to use new media and its full potential. The person in charge of hiring external services in a company, government office, or campaign is not sensitive to these changes should understand that they must reinvent themselves because new times have overtaken him. To learn more about the connection with the audiences just write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org tell me about your project or need, and I can surely help you.