It is no surprise to those of us who are busy connected people, that the way we consume information has, and continues to change at a rapid rate. There was a time when print media and nightly news shows were our main source of information, then came the internet and rolling 24 hour news channels, but even these are looking tired, slow and out of date when compared to what is now happening... and business has to keep up.
Now we consume our information directly from the source. Take the financial crisis in Greece... the Prime Minister of Greece did not wait for a press conference to announce his opinions to the world, he used Twitter to do so - in fact he tweeted 22 times in one day, giving up to the minute news and information directly from the source... On the day the Americans agreed the sanctions deal with Iran, the Iranian Leader went one better, he tweeted 23 times throughout the day, commenting on the situation. In both cases, the tweets resulted in a healthy debate and direct interaction between leaders and their audience (or those that are connected).
Why this trend needs to be noticed
Everyone I am speaking to is interested in connecting with the ‘youth’. They are seen as the future big spenders and businesses are looking for ways to connect, inspire and retain these people... and interestingly, when we look at the Twitter user demographics, nearly 70% are under the age of 44, with nearly 45% under the age of 34.
Perhaps the political strategists realise this - I am sure they do - Twitter is instant, it is mobile and requires technology we all have. So, to manage opinion, speak directly with your audience, 1 on 1 and Twitter is the channel of choice to do this.
So what does this mean for business?
Let’s set the scene:
Firstly, business has to understand that this trend is not being driven by business, it is being driven by every one of us - the general public - and more specifically, young people
Secondly, business has to understand that if they do not embrace channels like this and provide meaningful, up to the minute content, they will not engage their customers and will be left behind
Thirdly, business has to understand that, although apparently spontaneous, twitter communication is managed extremely carefully. There is always a narrative. Be sure you have one
... and finally business has to understand how to deal with good and bad feedback from their audience... and not put an intern in charge of managing their social media account
As businesses, and banks in particular struggle to connect in a meaningful and relevant way with their customers, new technologies are a tool that can be used to their advantage to begin to resolve this. It is critical that every organisation, once they embark on a social media campaign, have a strategy, a clear plan, a narrative and a protocol that empowers employees to be spontaneous within the boundaries of the organisations remit and strategy - a way to be transparent, open and respond to criticism or praise honestly and quickly.
Do this and you will connect to the young people in a way they want to be spoken to, and although it may seem challenging to those who are older and do not understand why anyone would use a service like Twitter, believe me, this is the future and it cannot be ignored.