As we go into 2022, if you haven’t read my previous blogs, there are quite a few large trends to take note of as brands start activating their digital human experience.
- We are on a pursuit of purpose as a society overall and people are seeking to connect beyond the simple transaction. Many of us are seeking to be a part of something larger.
- Brands and Consumers will connect more on a common purpose and impact and go beyond fulfilling a functional need.
- Brands will need to create meaningful customer experiences that reflect the human relationship that they’re building with their customers in order to attract and retain loyal customers.
- By creating this meaningful experience, they’re able to cultivate a corner of the internet that is there where they’re able to continue to attracting like minded customers and employees
- New tech trends are reflecting the need for meaningful connection from video, social commerce and influencer driving that form of digital human connection home.
So where do you start when creating your digital human experience so that you can continue to cultivate your community?
- It starts with tying it back to your common purpose that defines your ideal pace of growth. By going through the process of connecting it back to your why, any future tweaks that you may have in your strategy will be more aligned to the end impact you seek to create.
- Once you have defined your pace of growth then we can tackle logistical questions such as:
- What’s our actual budget that will help us get there and are we truly able to sustain the budget that’s needed?
- What does the implementation plan look like over the course of this year?
- What are the campaigns and where we should interact and who on our team is creating these campaigns?
- What actions do we seek our community to do as we create these campaigns and what are the ripple effects coming from this for our society? Are those the ripple effects that we want to see?
- Then look at your system and figure out what you need to tweak first. If you’re an established business you’ll find that it’s not necessary to overhaul the whole system but figure outing where you need to enhance.
Enhancing Your System that Sustains the Digital Human Experience
There are a few key areas of your system that will need to be realigned back to the why so that you can build a digital human experience that aligns with your brand and mission. Not only should you realign it back to your why, but assess how your industry overall is doing and how we will need to tweak our strategy to remain competitive.
Budgets need to be realistic
No matter what you decide to build out this year, we need to first make sure we have a realistic budget that will support us to actually accomplish what we want to achieve. Business spending isn’t going down and in fact, is increasing over time. According to IPG data via Ad Age, U.S. ad spending will “maintain a healthy clip of 12% growth in 2022, surpassing $300 billion for the first time with nearly all major industries returning to pre-COVID marketing budgets”. – Studio ID
With so many brands increasing their spending to be competitive, we need to make sure that the results that we want are achievable with the budget that we have. We also need to honor that with the new algorithm changes caused by the Apple iOS and Google update that paying to advertise may no longer be the most efficient way.
However, it’s more than just the ad spend that falls under the category of your marketing budget. Ideally, we want to make sure that not all of our eggs are in one basket and we want to divide them into different categories and build a multi-pronged marketing approach. From event marketing to influencer activations and giveaways, all of these add to the bottom line and you will need to decide what is realistic to sustain and if the ROI is worth it.
Setting up the right team with the right roles
Structural changes in your marketing team will continue to evolve as companies evolve to focus more on digital marketing as a primary form of communication. More senior marketing roles are asking for social media experience because it’s one of the primary forms of communication. Nearly one in two businesses anticipate that social media will become their primary external communications channel within the next three years. Community management will also be a part of building out the human experience. Codi Dantu-Johnson, Social Media Strategist at Mini Media Marketing, anticipates that this shift will inspire more companies to build out their teams with customer-centric social media roles.
We are seeing a shift where gone are the days of a single content creator who can do everything but a team of creative strategists. As you’re building out the team, there is a tipping point of deciding whether to bring it in-house or to outsource the work. Many businesses start with working with agencies because you’re able to get an experienced team while you’re growing your personal marketing skillset. It does get to a point where the turnaround time working with an agency and getting the digital marketing content activated is potentially too long of a turnaround and you need to have it in-house. Most agencies work with many brands so that does mean there is limited attention dedicated to each brand. As brands grow, they will need to have a dedicated team especially in fast-paced businesses where quick pivots or accessibility will make or break campaigns. Specific industries such as restaurants, retail stores that naturally have most of their content built at the moment on site rely more on building an in-house team rather than outsourcing. Other times when you’re growing to have multiple brands, it would make sense to explore building an in-house agency.
Video is a staple part of your content creation mix
As I’ve mentioned in the 4 Tech Trends Bridging the Digital Divide, video is one of the best ways to communicate with your audience but it’s more than creating trending reels. A part of building your corner of the internet with your community is creating content that your audience wants to keep coming back to. The reason why a person follows a brand on social media isn’t just because they may eventually purchase or have purchased the product or service, but because there is a deeper movement that they’ve connected on. That becomes a core part of the relationship that brands are building with their audience and creates a lot of new content or talking points to continue deeper conversations with their consumers.
As you explore sharing more of your voice and creating conversations with your community through video. Remember it’s a new skill set that you are building and there is a learning curve. Here are some quick sustainable tips that you can implement into your system to make sure you don’t lose momentum while you’re growing this new skill.
- Plan for video to be a part of your work flow overall including giving yourself time to storyboard before filming so you can avoid having to spend too much time in the post editing phase. Even just thinking through your talking points and how you want it to visually show up will make filming and finding the right angle much easier.
- It’s all about building momentum and doing it one step at a time. So if you’re looking to explore multiple types of video, start with one channel and one objective first. Learn from the results and feedback that you get from your audience, then iterate and expand.
- Let the data help you figure out what content is performing well including number of comments, shares instead of just views and likes. The number of comments, shares will tell platforms that your audience wants to see more of your content.
- Make sure that you are actually having fun creating the content. If its feels like a chore then that forced excitement will show up on video and decrease the performance of the content.
Engaging your community as human beings
As we talk about engagement and creating your corner of the internet. There is definitely a worry about privacy and boundaries as we are putting ourselves out there in the world. Many of us recognize that the public perception of public figures may not be the most forgiving space. However, the reality is that you’re not going to please everyone and that’s perfectly ok. There will be your group of happy humans who will be attracted to you and your content. They will align with you in your values and missions and it’s about creating boundaries that allow for you and the people you’re engaging with to show up confidently.
Many boundaries that you have are already interwoven into the language that you choose to use and your brand voice. Key questions I love to ask:
- How do you want your audience to feel as they interact with you? Imagine you’re in a digital networking room, how do you want the person that you’re talking to feel after interacting with you?
- How would you describe your brand? Each word that you use will have its own meaning based on the person who is perceiving the information so how can we define each of the words further?
Once you have defined your brand voice it’ll naturally show up in how you create your content for example:
- What type of content would you like your audience to create in response to your content? Nowadays we have Tiktok and Instagram that allows anyone to remix content so what is the type of remixes that you would like to see happen?
- What are the larger conversations that you would like to see discussed in your community that you’re instigating or contributing to?
- How does that show up with your influencers/creators and partners? We are now have all of the tools from branded content, collaboration feature and the affiliate program that’s taking the guess work out on the ROI. However, what is the most successful collaboration is not about driving sales. As influencers and branded content is the standard in social media, many people will tune out of content if they feel like they’re being sold to. What are ways that you can enhance your partnerships to where they feel like they’re continuing the conversation with you to discuss more on the common mission that you both are connected to?
Enhance the connection with technology
As we enter into the full digital human experience, the key question will be if you can translate the magic that often happens in real life and turn it digital. For it’s in those moments where your consumers remember you because that’s where you’re building a human connection.
So how can you use existing technology to enhance that human experience for example:
- Automating messages is great when you’re getting inundated with DMs and emails but we are now able to use it as a way to filter basic questions so that your team is able to answer the unique questions.
- Creating automation threads that allows you to capitalize on the digital data of interaction of a sales conversation when you’re at a hybrid event that you may not often times be able to get with traditional in person events.
- Email marketing is not only a great way to have first party data but also one of the most direct ways to continue the conversation with your customer. So think beyond the newsletter into the automated emails to see how you can invite more personable responses and continue the conversation by passing it onto your customer service/sales team.
Redefining what counts as success?
The best content marketers will implement systems to define success beyond the number of followers to know how their content is inspiring conversation and actions.
The newest analytics that we’re seeing that would be helpful is the share of voice. What is your share of voice that you have in your community that you’re making impacts in?
How is your opinion helping to move the conversation forward?
Beyond the sales process, what are the other conversations that you’re having that helps you grow your main community so you don’t feel like you’re having to hustle?
Influence happens One Step at a time
Creating the digital human experience is not a sprint to be created overnight. It’s a marathon that is a vital part of your business model. Just like all parts of the business model, it’s about taking one step at a time to tweak and grow the system.
So let’s start that first step, ask yourself, what can I change now that will create 80% of the impact and let that be your focus for the next quarter?
Good luck and let me know if you need more support.