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Rethinking “Competition” – The Share of Voice Disruption

Summary: This article is inspired by a recent conversation with a leadership member of an insurance company. We talked about Digital Transformation and the challenges deriving from new business models and industrial disruption. He had one angle on the subject that kind of dumbstruck me and I felt silly to have never thought about it myself: the disruption through the inability to reach out to potential target groups in the attempt to get to the first A in AIDA: attention. Here’s my reflection on the conversation to share it with you.

The importance to get “attention”.

We live in a world of accelerating change and a substantial shift in generations and values. I don’t want to go down the route of Digital Natives and Millenials here. However, I suppose it’s obvious that attitude and values of the upcoming generations differ quite substantially from the one that’s kind of “in charge” at the moment.

If a company’s offering addresses more “classic” or even conservative values (e.g. retirement provision) it might be the case that the subject is definitely not top of mind anymore. Actively prompted the new generations might develop a momentary awareness but when it comes to “life determining” influencers, the conservative angles aren’t necessarily in the top position.

This means that you have to excel in getting to the first A in the good old AIDA model (of course it is  impossible to leave out the “social” extension in 2016…):

AIDA

Only if a message gets past the attention barrier there is a change to convey the essence, build a relationship and maybe even initiation (inter)action.

When I used to work in marketing and advertising (before the internet) it was already a big thing that the amount of messages that were hammering on consumers created a challenge to marketers. The fight over creativity and exceptionally crazy ideas was built on that circumstance.

The times for communicators have changed. Substantially. Irreversibly.

The Share of Voice Disruption

The simplest analogy for “share of voice disruption” is definitely if someone steps on the hose when you’re trying to water the garden…

SoV Disruption

That’s what media companies, brands, TV series, game consoles and more or less the ENTIRE internet do to you if you are trying to convey a message that cannot remotely compete with the attractiveness of the “distraction”.

Like I said in the introduction: it really really bugs me that this hasn’t crossed my mind or that I didn’t pick up on it earlier. Simply because it’s so damn obvious!

Disrupting Share of Voice in inside facing channels

Since I spend the majority of my times advising on the Digital Workplace I realised that this model (or angle) applies there as well. The amount of messages and distraction keeps increasing and the “low value” messages (aka leader talk, policies & regulations) hardly make it on the top of the list of the required recipients.

The new “Competitive Advantage”

So in addition to re-thinking business models, value proposition, ecosystem and supply chain the communicators get a new role. It will be about intelligent and resonating communications. To some extend it could be a complementary dimension to McKinsey’s model used in the most recent publication on “The economic essentials of digital strategy” (McKinsey Quarterly, 2016).

McK Exhibit Digital Strategy

(c) 2016 McKinsey & Company

For everyone interested in the subject I can only recommend the article. One of the best compact publications on the subject I’ve recently come across.

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From “relevance” to the KPIs that measure communication quality & impact

Summary: In the long run the concept of “relevance” will undoubtedly replace the attempt to provide intranets that users can customise or personalise. Relevance targeting is driven by purposeful communications and clear objectives on the sender’s side. Evaluating the actual effect of distinct communication will allow communicators to continuously improve their skills and organisation to improve their channel mix and effectiveness.

Attending one of my client’s internal communications conference I felt inspired to document a workshop session with a little drawing:

Sending and Receiving in DWP

It summarises important aspects of the sender/recipient relationship. It furthermore hints to where the long sought for KPIs for internal communications and the Digital Workplace can be found.

The beginning: a purpose.

I truly believe communications without purpose should simply be banned from internal digital channels. Actually, thinking about it again, it should be banned from all channels, no matter if analogue, digital, internal or outside facing. The purpose of communications is usually driven by an over spanning objective. Purpose and objective create the foundation for “relevance”, the “reason-why” for the creation of a message and delivery to a particular audience. The tonality has to resonate on both and make sure that the core of the message is clear and easy to understand.

Practical example

Objective: reduce the risk of legal liability caused by wrongful handling of presents from suppliers.

Purpose: create awareness of a changed compliance guideline to the purchasing employees in Eastern Europe, Middle East & Asia.

Tonality: clear, straight forward, call to action (= go to the policy, read it, implement it) as the core element; background & change tracking should be stored in the context of the policy, not the communication, so it can be found even if people simply search for the policy itself and not the connected communication around it.

KPI for success measuring (Examples)

Deliver on communication purpose
  1. Unique visitors = effective reach of the message
  2. Distinct & scaled rating of the message = feedback for the senders on quality, clarity & relevance
  3. Click through rate = “conversion” from communication recipient to policy recipient
  4. Time on (destination/reference) site = recipient involvement with the reference material
  5. Receipt confirmation (if possible) = communication read & understood
Deliver on communication objective
  1. Quantitative evaluation of the implementation through line managers (read, understood, implemented)
  2. Cases of non-compliance in purchasing after the communications

Measuring success beyond media KPI

For a few years I have been chasing best practice and lighthouse solutions for success measurement in the context of intranet/DWP. So far the subject hasn’t really gotten the right attention and the majority of KPI we see in the field are “volume” KPI such as

  • members of a community or group
  • number of conversations
  • number of likes & shares
  • number of comments

To continuously improve the quality of Enterprise Information Management we have to deliver more insight to authors and publishers. The ones in charge for the mechanics and design of internal digital channels have to enable the ones in charge of the content to deliver on the requirements of all stakeholders. To date way too much guess work is involved.

How to get there?

Let’s simply stop asking for “analytics”. Let’s ask for Communications Insight & Intelligence. If I were in charge I would refuse to implement any KPI without a concept on

  • why measure? (reason-why)
  • how to report on the insight? (reporting format/frequency)
  • who will be reported to? (audience)
  • who is in charge of executing on insight? (accountability)
  • how shall KPI be interpreted? (figures > insight)

The last is probably the most important because at the end pure numbers mean nothing. The interpretation (and therefore the commentary for the report) is key for the actual execution on the insight. For that we have to pre-determine what particular figures mean and what has to happen with the learning, for example:

  • Low click-through
    > recipients only now that the policy is there but they don’t know the detail
    > implementation might fail
    > actively research through line management
  • Low time-on-site at the reference material
    > recipients only go to the site but don’t get involved
    > implementation might fail
    > actively research through line management

Why to pay more attention Communications Insight & Intelligence?

I believe that by implementing a more serious quality and impact measurement for internal digital channels we will achieve three things:

  1. Provide support to the governing organisation and enable them to iteratively improve the channel effectiveness
  2. Increase awareness for the fact that people have to pay attention to the alternative to e-mail communications
  3. Establish intranet/DWP as a work critical and essential part of the people’s work: the Good Morning for every day that you don’t want to live without

Who to talk to in the field?

Probably Philip’s Dennis Agusi is one of the guys in the field that has one of the best ongoing cases in DWP analytics. You can find him on Twitter: @DennisAgusi

Check out the tweets about is presentation at the Intranet Reloaded 2015 at #intrelEU (add his twitter handle to your search query to filter out the distinct tweets). But be aware: they hired a data scientist to pull off their attempt…

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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lack of #certainty and #clarity will prevent #change in #communication behavior; #socbiz #enterprise20 #e20

Summary: This article is about the level certainty user of alternative communication channels need. The sender has to be sure that the message reaches the right recipients. Potential recipients have to be sure that they won’t miss out on important or relevant information. Without that certainty user will never move from the old fashioned e-mail channel to much better alternatives

Recently I have posted about the options to replace e-mail with new channels for communication and data distribution (link). While attending a test-pitch for enterprise 2.0 I was able to switch perspectives. Due to a role play I was forced into the situation of a stakeholder that is completely hesitant to but into the concept of social business. On a side note I would like to recommend everyone to do this from time to time. Take the role of someone who just doesn’t want to change and accept new opportunities (why? because I don’t want to!). Make up everything that comes into your mind to argue against the presented subject…a mind opening experience.

Anyway… An important thought suddenly crossed my mind: how can we create certainty and a comfort zone for users of the new channels? This actually counts for both perspective of communication: sending and receiving.

 

1. Sending: Being sure that my message though in-direct channels is still

S pecific enough to trigger the right action
M eaningful enough to be picked up
A ddressed to the right people
R elevant enough to others to get involved
T imely responded to in if response is required

Sending an e-mail (the ones starting with ‘Hi All’ or ‘Team’ and CC-craziness for addressing groups excluded) to seek for help, an answer or a certain piece of data doesn’t even have to be very SMART. There are trained behaviors and certain motivators not to ignore e-mails most of the time:

If you are addressed by name you will at least answer something. That’s something we get taught by our parents at home. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the answer contains much value but ignoring a direct request isn’t very established (assuming proper education).

From a more corporate perspective ignoring a direct request is pretty bold. It might lead to escalation through line management or in the worst case to being labeled as the unhelpful person that’s not caring for anyone else. If one repeatedly ignores other’s e-mails there will be consequences to some extend.

It’s simply difficult to say ‘na, didn’t get the e-mail’ if you were in the TO-field and personally addressed. Not picking up or responding to a status update, a posted question or a comment has literally no consequences at all. You just didn’t see it…

The sender puts himself in a very vulnerable situation as well…from multiple perspectives: the answer ‘I’ve posted a couple of questions and am waiting for someone to respond’ is a pretty brave if the boss asks ‘How far did you get with the issue?’.

Comic_post

Furthermore – and this is a real life response from a workshop – exposing lack of knowledge to a broad public isn’t very popular in some organizations.

There isn’t one simple answer to this challenge. (Work) cultural and managerial change is required in many cases to create the right foundation. Certain principles (not ‘have to’ rules but ‘how to’ guidelines) have to be established. Interest and research (yes…not everything will find the right person automatically) have to be part of daily information work. Senders have to have a level of certainty that there will be open eyed recipients out there.

 

2. Receiving: Making sure that one stays on top of things…

If e-mail is the information worker’s hub – in the worst case even the repository for files – one thing is created: certainty. There’s only one place where my stuff can be and only one channel how new stuff can get in there.

Establishing new channels for communication and new locations to maintain data has to incorporate one essential element: clarity. There can be only one channel for a certain type of communication or data distribution. There can only be one single repository where data resides if it’s not my personal one.

If the clarity of the system (and thereby the certainty for the recipient) isn’t created there can and will be only one natural reaction: denial. People are creative enough to find ways of maintaining the way that it has worked well for them so far. IT guidelines and managerial orders haven’t been the most effective way of preventing that so far and they will be even less effective in the future.

 

Just to avoid confusion… 

Introducing new channels of information distribution, retrieval and enrichment shall not trigger a vast set of rules and guidelines. However, as attractive the use of social and commercial inspired work tools might feel, posting, commenting, linking, tagging etc. have to be ‘learned’ in corporate context. It won’t come natural and people…not even the Digital Natives. The closer the new services will be to the actual context of the users the easer it will be for them to adopt (link). Moving further up the ladder towards the endeavor of a networked organization needs hand holding…and a new way of leadership. A leadership that stands for openness, curiosity, shared responsibility and accountability as well as trust…a leadership for the new way of working: collaboration.

 

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#peoplecentric #communication by #michaelfauscette (via mfauscette.com)

My take on the following article
Communication has become one of the major challenges in larger organisations. Unfortunately e-mail definitely has turned into an inefficient 'thing‘ that is probably causing more work, confusion and in the end frustration than it adds speed to decision making and knowledge exchange. Social media and the new approach of integrating 'old school' channels such as SMS into converging conversations and turning message strings (now call 'conversations') into asynchronous chats starts changing the communication landscape. And the more I think about the use of micro blogging in project, expert network and business development or sales context the more I like it. It's like facebook's vision: all in one place. And here it wouldn't be just communications but relevant documents, status information, messages, updates etc etc etc. No cumbersome e-mail updates or notification. No 'can you check this and give your input' message with a link to a document that's broken… Well, all the inefficient things we know from the current way of working. But it wouldn't happen overnight. I will be a process of cultural change – work culture, communication culture, sharing and collaboration culture…in the end: corporate culture. 

http://www.mfauscette.com/software_technology_partn/2010/11/people-centric-communication.html