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Five ways to be a great digital date…

13 February 2013

Digital is the first technology where having the means to consume also gives you the means to create. People’s expectations of how organisations will engage and the choice and power they will wield are irreversible. Here are a few tips to get it right…

  1. Proposing is not a first date activity…
    Sounds obvious, but organisations do it all the time – someone new takes a look at you and, as soon as you have ‘acquired’ them, you ask if they want to give you money every month or leave you a gift in their will. If you want to engage people in a deep and meaningful, long-lasting relationship, you need to do all the things you would in the real world – engage with them, listen to them, tell them interesting things and make the relationship. A quick ask may get you a quick return, but all too often it’s at the expense of a deeper engagement that rewards both sides.
  2. Go somewhere nice.
    You get some interest, things look great, you want to take them somewhere nice where the atmosphere will help them see you in a good light. So, why choose a fast food restaurant? The equivalent online is spending money on digital marketing or social media, then transporting your customer to a really badly designed landing page that turns them off. Build users into the heart of your journey, track how they interact with your site and review the conversion rates. Post-live optimisation is all too often ignored, with no measurement done for weeks and all the focus on acquiring, not enough on converting.
  3. Stop talking, start listening.
    People want to talk about things that engage them, not just listen to the things that interest you. Social makes it easy to listen in to the conversation around topics and understand the audience you want to engage with. Lots of organisations still don’t focus on listening, instead pushing out messages that get little or no engagement. The amount your users actively engage with you is an important metric. Facebook uses it as a factor in its Edgerank algorithm, which works out how many users to show your posts to. If you are not interesting your audience, the number of people who see your messages will dwindle.
  4. You are no longer the only fish…. or even a big one!
    Time was, if you were a large enough organisation with a big enough infrastructure, you were the de-facto voice of a subject. We can all think of organisations who represent particular subjects – but size or financial clout is no longer any guarantee of influence. Little fish now compete on social media on equal footings with the big ones. It might not be quite ‘he who shares wins’, but he who produces the best, most relevant, most shareable content consistently. What applies for voice also applies for wallet. Increasingly, we see new organisations, born in the digital age, offering the choice of how to spend their money direct to the user. They ‘disintermediate’ – remove the charity middle man by joining supporter to supported. In this environment, you need to think about how you engage your supporters. You may not need to change everything and immediately remove yourselves – but you do need to think about how you make the work you do as compelling.
  5. Be yourself, just better…
    Your reputation is everything. It makes a huge difference who links to you and talks about you. The choice of who to link to is immense – the web is estimated at 13.5 billion pages. To get good quality links, you must produce great content that is of genuine use to people. If you want your advocates to share your material, you must keep those close to you really close – they must know what part they are playing in your success and how, together, you are achieving a goal. And, if you want people to understand your message, be clear and speak consistently.

Alison McCormack led the digital part of the Age UK merger before leaving to start a digital consultancy, www.wearemc2.co.uk. She is the Digital Strategy Associate at Forster.