I know; I’m going to get myself in trouble with a headline like that.
There are people with doctorates in Communications (Hi Jeannette). There are people who call themselves “Futurists” (Hi Alvin Toffler). I am neither. However, I’m going to take a humble stab at this question of the future by sharing some of the insights discovered through the marketing and communications research I did for clients over the past year. So, in no particular order…
People are less and less willing to read a lot of text. And I’m not talking about books and I’m also not talking only of the young folks with their boom boxes and their rap music or whatever. How often do you thoroughly read through long articles? Be honest. Do you scan the headlines? Research participants told me big blocks of text will “scare them off.” The future of this very blog is at risk because I’ve heard people find blog posts too long (this one has 448 words).
Visual is the driver. While they’re scared of lots of text, participants have told me that they’ll consider reading text if the photo or visual that accompanies it is compelling. Even things that used to be textually based have become visual (remember using the colon, dash, parentheses to convey “happy?”). Tone down the text and ramp up the visual.
(Are you still reading? Carry on, brave Literati!)
Channels vary by age. Older people are more likely to watch broadcast TV, read local papers, and listen to the radio. Younger people stream their TV and music and are more likely to access web-based content from their phone than a computer.
Social media varies by age. Most grown-ups are still all over Facebook. Young people might have a Facebook account, but they hardly use it—if at all. So if you post on Facebook; plan on reaching the parents, not the kids. For now, younger folk use Instagram and Snapchat and they're cagey about privacy and get creeped out by adults who try to nose their way in.
It had better be all about me. As the means of getting into someone’s communications feed have proliferated, people are filtering more of the noise out. If you want to rise above, make it personal, relevant, timely, oh, and it’s good to be funny, but it has to be authentic. It's most credible when it comes from a friend, not you. Don’t try too hard or reach out too often, lest you be perceived as annoying. Easy, right?
All of the above is neither good, nor bad, just a snapshot of preferences and habits as reported to me. What have you found?
Kyndra Wilson, KW Brand Translation
Culture geek. Proud Colorado native.