There are now 3.8 billion internet users globally and during 2017, for the first time ever, people with access to the internet outnumber those without. Our ability to connect with each other and make our voices heard is greater than at any other moment in history.
The internet has not just grown in reach, it has also grown in size. The amount of content available is staggering with the average Facebook user scrolling through more than 300 feet of content per day, according to the social network.
In this hyper-connected and content-rich world, it’s the images and footage that elicit an emotional response that we take notice of and engage with.
Our own film examines the challenges for businesses and organisations in a society characterised by greater connectivity, scrutiny and accountability. How should organisations respond and which businesses are already adapting to a more connected, networked and emotional world?
Organisations need to be candid and develop a keen self-awareness about their purpose, their challenges and the extent to which these align with values, culture and brand. Importantly, this also includes a serious evaluation of an organisation’s shortcomings. In a world where social media gives us insight into what were once considered private spaces, if there is any dissonance between what an organisation says publicly and what it does privately, it will be exposed, often by its own employees.
There are some great examples of organisations that are open about what they do and how they deliver value to society. Over the past decade, fast food chain McDonald’s has developed a more transparent approach, with clearer nutritional labelling on its food, while maintaining a brand which has strong appeal to bring people together. McDonald’s does not pretend that its food is healthy but by being open about its calorie content, the company is freer to craft a credible narrative around other aspects of its food, the sourcing of its ingredients and their capacity to bring people together.
Tell the story in a more human, emotional way
Anyone can now post film and photos online and the quantity of information we’re exposed to means that content needs to entertain, as much as inform, to stand any chance of cutting through. Dry statements of fact or statistics and figures are lost among the multitude of faces and voices we are exposed to each day.
That doesn’t mean organisations should turn away from facts, but facts now need to be allied with a more human, more emotional approach to bring them to life and connect with people more effectively.
Danish travel firm, Momondo did this brilliantly in their 2016 video, linking a person’s own DNA history to a desire to explore the places from where their ancestors originally came. The film captures the emotional resonance of people discovering their own ethnic roots and provides a compelling reason for people to explore the world and where we come from.
Insightful communications planning and execution
Corporate communicators instinctively understand that the days of discrete ‘media’, ‘public affairs’ or even ‘investor’ relations are over. Audiences are connected like never before. Good communications planning and execution identifies those influencers who matter the most and develops a targeted campaign using all the channels available to effect a change in attitude, behaviour or belief which delivers value to an organisation.
GE’s GE reports started life in 2008 as a blog to respond to scrutiny about the health of the company’s financial arm at the time, GE Capital. Initially designed to tell the firm’s story to employees and investors, it has become a multi award-winning hub for thought-leadership and is a hugely powerful means to influence all those who are important to the company’s success. It’s a brilliant example of an integrated approach which works.
We’re only at the halfway point for global internet penetration and as even more of the world becomes connected, we can expect the explosion in content to continue. There are tremendous opportunities – as some businesses are already showing – for those brands that engage their network in a more honest, emotional and collaborative way.