In this digital age businesses must grow and compete to survive, yet also find methods of staying connected with their audiences in vulnerable and authentic ways. Most often as these businesses grow larger and mature, they lose much of what originally made them appealing and wholesome.
So is it really possible to be digitally vulnerable with your customers as your business grows larger?
Spend Time With Your Audience
Visualize your audience is with you as you construct your content. Put them in your office! Standing against the walls, sitting on the floor, or laying on your couch. Have them looking at you and eagerly awaiting what you will soon publish.
What reactions do you see?
Has your content brought them closer together? Is it new and exciting? Or have they all pulled out their phones to check Facebook?
When we create content we most often write for ourselves, and for the pseudo-masses behind phones and laptops. We write very differently than we would if we were to, perhaps, hand our content to a person in real-life.
Step One: Write content for real-life, not for the web.
Engage Your Audience As One Customer
As businesses grow, they tend to lose the intimate connection they had with each customer when they were young. Partly due to the complications of interacting with so many people, but mostly due to the behavior changes which take place when a business develops ego.
As these companies grow they tend to also build walls to keep customers away. The phone numbers of real individuals are hidden behind 1800 numbers and we must wait through automated called to be heard. Small businesses however do not have these problems, the owners step in to talk directly with customers, making them feel important and valued. These actions build loyal communities and strong business foundations.
Step Two: Engage with every customer as if they are your only focus.
Invite The Conversation “Offline”
As important as it is to use digital media to converse with people, the moment those relationships exit cyberspace and enter our physical world, they can become something truly vulnerable.
Inviting the conversation “offline” does not necessarily mean meeting in person. Utilize Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime, or even post a video to the masses. Do as much as possible to remove communication interpretation, and replace it with real gestures and facts. These methods create digital vulnerability.
Step Three: Invite the conversation “offline” through creative methods.
Allow For Interpretation
Keep in mind that everyone’s experience is different, yet important and valuable. By creating blanket or generic content, a business is ultimately telling its customers that they are not unique, or heard. The most effective content allows a reader to reflect upon their own life and insert their experience into the narrative.
Coke does a wonderful job of this with their “Share a Coke” campaign. When choosing a soda, the customer no longer is simply buying a soft drink. They are also looking for the name of a lover or family member, reflecting on good memories, feeling important.
Step Four: Create content which allows for reflection and interpretation.
All of these steps can help a business move away from generic content and actions which are neither vulnerable or interesting. After all, a business is ultimately in service of its audience, and the content it produces must reflect that.