Beyond digital: no such thing as a free tweet

Anthony Haynes

Anthony Haynes writes: The post below (the second in our ‘Beyond digital’ mini-series) provides the first step in our attempt to articulate the rationale for a hybrid communications strategy founded on the belief that analogue communications can be both effective and exciting.

There’s non need to spend time rehearsing the benefits of digital — they’re well established. But one supposed advantage of digital commonly is over-blown, namely that it is free.

I should have written that in inverted commas: ‘free’.

Yes, the marginal cost of sending a tweet or email is free in monetary terms. But in terms of time and energy — both scarce, valuable, resources — they’re not free.

In fact, in terms of those resources, the more intelligently you use digital communications, the more costly they become. Granted, if you use, say, Twitter purely as a push medium — sending out messages to say ‘We’re great!’, ‘We’ve got a great product!’,  ‘We’ve been nominated for an award!’, etc. — the demands on time and energy will be minimal. But nobody will listen.

Central to digital communications is the notion of conversation. To continue the example of Twitter: if you respond to other people, show curiosity and invite people to say more, answer their questions, send links to helpful content, forward those provided by others, then you may be said to have joined a conversation.

You’ll be seen to have joined a community and, at that point, have begun to earn a degree of trust. In return, the online community will even give you permission, as it were, to send the occasional ‘push’ message.

Such a strategy may well provide a good return on investment — but it needs to be recognised that the investment of (human) resources required is not inconsiderable.

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