Friday, October 03, 2008

Like, stuff and thing

Corporate communication on new media platforms must transcend the ‘blah’ and transform to the ‘quirky and incoherent’.

If every alternate phrase that you speak is not interjected with either of the above three words, namely, ‘like’ stuff’ or ‘thing’ you may find the following a little difficult to digest. For the rest, it’s show time!

This is not a comment on the vocabulary skills, or the lack thereof, of the Indian cosmopolitan youth who is touted to be the future leader and more importantly an active participant in the economically fundamental process of currency flow. Namely, he or she will be the future decision maker, the new consumer which makes this entity an important stakeholder.

The drudgery of going through 15 years of higher education and a B-school or a finishing school after that chips away at the very instinct that craves to exclaim ‘awesome dude’ at a job well done. These foot soldiers enter the corporate world with the pressure to suppress every impulse to talk in their erstwhile lingo and adopt a somewhat uncomfortable formal tone which is mostly and at times rightly rewarded with a pat on the back.

This is indeed a necessity, if you wish to be taken seriously in the corporate world. But with time, the habit of parroting taught speech pattern has left an entire corporate level clueless as to how to communicate with the audiences engaged in virtual markets that communicate, buy, sell and create products and ideas on new media platforms.

Every communications professional worth his salt knows the importance of adapting to new lingo and cultures to get their message across. In public relations, this skill becomes even more crucial as our bread and butter and the all too vital umpteen mugs of industrial strength filter coffee depend on it.

Amidst the corporate cauldron of formal conversations you are most likely to run into a paunchy jovial guy in mid 40s, cracking dirty jokes and discussing the latest version of Halo on Xbox with fresh recruits in their early 20s. While the rest of us wonder what makes him click with the ‘cool’ crowd, the young ones already have a ‘rock star’ to worship.

Social media platforms have changed the face of influencers in our globalized economy. Ideas are not restricted to geographies, markets are no longer a physical universe and paper is no longer the currency. In this space, conversation and relationships are the new forms of currency.

A blogger may not respond to a formal pitch note which says ‘…please publish this after due consideration…Thanking you in anticipation…’ and as such. Instead, try leaving relevant comments on his blog posts and telling him that his blog is ‘way too cool’. Engage him on a social networking site (say Facebook) about his likes, dislikes and interests. You may find that he is much more receptive about the idea of receiving your company updates and eventually writing about it on his blog.

‘Social media marketing’ or ‘conversational marketing’ is about interacting with your target audiences. The key is to make every conversation personal and at the same time relevant to a mass audience. It is necessary to immerse oneself in the community, be an active participant and then expect acceptance of your thoughts and views.

Adapting online cultures, assimilating oneself in its evolving ecosystem provides that valuable insight which lends to the communication structure best suited for the environment.

Be warned, that every individual is different and a single solution cannot be used as a yard stick for all digital communications queries. Think on your feet, innovate and be creative in your replies and posts. Importantly, be unhesitating, persistent and relevant.

So for a lot of us who spent a lot of time blogging, commenting on fellow blogger’s posts, hopping from an Orkut to a Facebook to a twitter and generally whiled time on digital and social media platforms that came to be collectively known as Web 2.0, there is still hope! The rest need to catch up.

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