Great, you’ve just spotted an interesting article you actually want to read, but of course you’re just about to run into a meeting. Sound familiar? We thought so and it seems to be a regular scenario we all face.
Everyone may now be online, but we are increasingly just skimming over content, failing to properly engage with anything online. If we do want to devote some quality time to a piece of news or an article, we can’t, and frankly it puts us in a bad mood. This is something the media world is starting to recognise.
Attending a recent digital journalism conference, news rewired, showcasing the latest IoT inventions for the media world, we came across PrinterThing. Though still in beta, it enables users to ‘pocket’ articles they like throughout the day and then print off all the news and features at the end of the day to read at their leisure in their own home. Social giants have also already cottoned on to this growing need. We’re sure many of you are already aware and even use the ‘save for later’ functions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, letting you bookmark Tweets, posts and photos to refer back to later.
Immediacy is losing its appeal and we don’t always want to be the ‘always-on’ consumer’, continually gobbling up but not processing content. As the editor of The Monocle highlighted at the conference, we are living in a two-speed media world – fast and slow – and “sometimes it’s good to be slow.” It’s true; we are willing to wait twenty minutes for a cup of coffee, as long as we know it’s guaranteed to be good. We can be patient if it’s worth it.
But what does this shift mean for marketers and PRs, and how should you be catering for these changing preferences?
Strike a balance
Grabbing someone’s attention can be simple, but you also have to keep it – that’s a little trickier. Balancing both is a fine art but one that marketers need to master if they’re going to deliver what consumers want.
First, you’ve got to spike consumers’ interest, using that punchy title, a leading question or a great image or video to make them want to read on – but make sure that there’s substance behind it and avoid clickbait at all costs. Anyone who clicks on a link and finds out that the article or video is irrelevant will be annoyed. If they have specifically saved down content to look at later, taken out precious time to digest it properly, they will be fuming. You may have elicited that all-important click and generated a precious view, but you may have lost a potential customer. Worse, you have may have done damage to your brand.
So, don’t mislead people. Instead, remember that well-known phrase ‘quality over quantity’. Slow it down but make it worth people’s while and just like that great cup of coffee, if they know it will be good, they will keep coming back for more.
Don’t be short-sighted
When it comes to analysing results and reporting, everyone has been raving about the need for real-time data – that’s the only way we can gain real insights into consumer behaviour and preferences. If ever true, it’s no longer the case. If we are saving content to read at a later time, then real-time data will only tell part of the story. To truly know the reach and engagement of your content, you need a comprehensive view taking all activities into account across a much longer time frame. This will provide much more accurate and insightful results than just scrutinising the here and now.
This also presents a further opportunity for marketers and PRs to monitor and track what type of content and what topics are proving the most popular among your target audience. Keeping an eye on which articles, videos, and more that your audiences are saving, for example, will give you a clearer and more informed idea of what resonates with your audience, not just what sparks their interest but also what connects with them on a deeper level.
Can’t beat them, join them
This new disregard for fast-consumption is also a result and rebellion against over-saturation. We are completely inundated by content, pushing many of us to go offline completely. Indeed, a former Facebook exec recently apologised for ‘ripping apart society’ – and I think we all have at least one friend who has completely deleted all their social accounts. However, it is also having a serious impact on businesses across every sector. PR and marketing are no different.
No, we will not all be going offline completely and, no, printed media will not be having a complete revival, but marketers do need to change and re-think how they target consumers online. We already know the importance of SEO, but with consumers trying to drown out the noise from adverts and news feeds, they are only going to listen and, more importantly, engage with what they are specifically looking for. So, make sure you’re offering it to them – providing the content they actively seek out, ensuring your keywords are fully optimised and relevant, and of course, boosting those all-important search rankings. When consumers do go looking, you want them to find you. Increasingly, brands will only be able to engage with their audience if consumers come to them first and with the upcoming era of GDPR, there will be increasing restrictions on how you can reach out to them.
Though we are not abandoning the world of digital completely, we are seeing an increasing frustration and rebellion against online, and certainly the fast-pace associated with it. So, for 2018, take it down a notch and slow it down to make sure you’re offering what your consumers want, how they want it and when, and resonating with their needs. We take this as a very positive sign that marketers and the internet are starting to focus less on what they can do and more on what they should do; a sure sign that we’re evolving, or at least growing up a bit.
Slow and steady may yet win the race.