Appropriate communication platforms and how to use them effectively

This section deals with all platforms where there is the possibility of interacting or communicating with your target clients in different ways. This section will help you identify the platforms that will be able to enable you to reach, connect and interact effectively with your target market and advice for each platform. We will cover how to communicate in another section.

Many organisations make the mistake of selecting communication platforms that suit them, rather than what their target market prefers. Personal preferences may change over time as well as communication platforms. You may pick up communication platform trends amongst certain demographics however these are not cast in stone. There are progressive baby boomers out there who use all the trending communication platforms and you will also find Gen X and Gen Y “digital dinosaurs” who are not that tech savvy.

The best possible approach before deciding on your communication platform strategy is to conduct a survey amongst your target market. This may be difficult in the early stages of your 5 Step Plan because you are still building your communities. Do not react to “hear-say” regarding communication platforms of choice. Some individuals have dismissed certain communication platforms because they have been led to believe that their target market do not use the platform.

As a rule of thumb, if you are targeting consumers, you will want to consider using platforms such as your website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, blog and email subscription.

If you are targeting business decision makers, communication platforms should include a website, LinkedIn, blog, Twitter and email. Larger organisations should also consider an employee advocacy platform.

  1. Website

Primary function – Information relating to your company, products, people and customers

  • Your website should provide information relating to your company, products, people, values, mission statement, ethics, customer list, customer testimonials, case studies, awards and contact details.
  • Host your website with a reputable service provider who will provide appropriate security and availability.
  • When developing your website, optimise it for search engines. This may require the services of a search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist.
  • Think about how your visitors will interact with your website. With this in mind, ensure that navigation is easy and all information is easy to find and can be located within two clicks
  • Provide prominent calls to action to connect on other communication channels.
  • Provide a facility for visitors to provide feedback in terms of their experience of your website
  • It is useful if visitors have access to a form where they can request information
  • Do not include resource intensive content which takes a while to download. Visitors to your website lose interest quickly if the site is unresponsive.

2. Blog

Primary function – Publishing value-adding thought pieces

  • If you are also using your blog for your company website, the rules listed above will apply
  • If you are using WordPress, identify an appropriate theme
  • Your thought leadership should occupy the left and middle column of the blog
  • Include a prominent “call to action” to subscribe to the blog
  • Provide links to your other communication channels
  • Use social sharing links on your blog posts
  • Showcase seminars and events you are hosting in the right hand column
  • Display links to related articles in the right hand column

3. LinkedIn

Primary function – Sharing value-adding thought leadership and interaction with LinkedIn users

  • Have an appropriate professional photo
  • Your headline should articulate your brand promise
  • Make sure you populate your summary with appropriate information
  • Connect with the right people
  • Include job history, achievements, awards, education, recommendations, endorsements and memberships
  • Join relevant groups where your target market may be present
  • Depending on your requirements, consider upgrading your membership

4. Twitter

Primary function – Sharing value-adding thought leadership and interaction with Twitter users

  • Have an appropriate photo, biography and header image
  • Include your location and link to your website, blog or LinkedIn profile
  • Encourage the right people to follow you
  • Follow the right people

5. Email

Primary function – Sharing value-adding thought leadership with targetted subscribers and communication

  • Make it easy to subscribe
  • Tell subscribers what to expect and never deviate from your promise
  • Send a welcome email
  • Design your newsletter to fit your brand
  • Make it scannable
  • Send people content they want
  • Think about mobile
  • Segment database carefully
  • Use a reputable email Service Provider
  • Know your spam rules
  • Never communicate again once unsubscribed

6. Employee advocacy platform

Primary function – Platform for staff members to share value-adding thought leadership with their personal networks

  • Choose a reputable employee advocacy platform
  • Employees to understand that the environment is owned by them
  • Get executive buy-in and participation
  • Publish posts regularly
  • Continually share latest stats and successes with staff members
  • Run competitions to create competitiveness and participation
  • Provide regular training and coaching
  • Provide coaching on updating social media profiles and connecting
  • Identify and support “super-users” in the organisation

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