The creativity of digital

It’s too easy to get caught up in the frenzy that surrounds Digital. “We must have a digital presence!” is a fine aspiration but what does it actually mean? Before launching head first into Digital, take a step back to consider what are the things you need to think about before shaping a digital solution that works for your particular business. What are the pitfalls and what are the essentials? Shane offers 3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts.

Don't be intimidated by digital

Few fields can match the level of buzzwordology rampant amongst today’s purported digital experts. Just ask your neighbourhood thinkfluencer.

When we talk about digital marketing or digital communications, e-this or social that, it’s rarely the fact that whatever we’re talking about is “digital” that is the interesting characteristic. The real revolution is interactivity and connectivity. Just as electricity was a breakthrough, but the power grid redefined industry and society; widespread access to the Internet has changed our world all over again. When every aspect of modern life is “digital”, the concept quickly becomes an anachronism.

Connectivity becoming universal and unlimited means ultimately everyone and everything is connected. No matter what technology or device it goes through, the start and the end of every connection is a person. Same as it always was.

Do disrupt yourself

If you’re not asking how your business can adapt to this brave new world, you can be damn sure somebody else is. From transport to telecommunications to finance, no industry is immune to disruption. "Digital" technologies have made it possible to deliver your company’s services in new and better ways.

Netflix or AirBnB, Stripe or Hailo, the common trait you’ll see amongst all of the new generation is their focus on the customer's experience. Faster, easier or more accessible, it's all better for the end user. And once the experience is better for the customer, success is assured. Not all businesses can deliver their entire service end-to-end through digital channels; but every business can use digital to make the brand experience better.

As Russell Davies put it, the Product is the Service is the Marketing.

Don't silo your thinking

It may seem hard to keep pace with the new digitally savvy consumer. How can your brand keep up with changes in behaviour when the rate of change is accelerating daily? Should we be on Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat? How will it work with my existing press, TV and radio? What the hell is an Oculus Rift?

What you know now probably won’t be enough answer those questions. Or to solve consumer problems, invent new solutions, or conceive original creative ideas for the future. But keep an open mind to new technologies and you'll be pleasantly surprised. An integrated approach to your business challenges will always pay dividends and you'll be better equipped to plan that approach.

We don't need digital ideas, we need ideas for a digital world.

Do pay attention

How often have you talked of a project or campaign “going live”? And yet most of the time, the “go live” date is really the date that work stops and the rest is left to fate. That may have been necessary back when publishing meant going to print, but when your communications go live online that should be just the start.

Digital communications allow us to test, learn and refine as we go. Try out different messaging or offers to sample groups and see how they’re going down. Pay attention to how your audience behave and you can ensure your campaign responds appropriately.

Don’t be seduced by “data”

The blessing and curse of digital is that everything is measurable. Every click, impression and interaction can be logged into an ever increasing database of numbers and statistics. Track everything and you’ll end up drowning in numbers. Or worse: the wrong numbers can lead you to the wrong conclusions.

Take Twitter for example. Total tweets sent dropped from 35m during SuperBowl ‘15 to 26m during SuperBowl ‘16. Pundits immediately started writing Twitter's obituary. But, looking at the impressions those tweets garnered - a rise from 2.5bn to 4.3bn - tells a very different story. What’s more important: volume or audience?

Take the time in advance of any activity to figure out what you want to measure. What metrics will give you an accurate picture? Ask the right questions, and you’ll get the right answers.

Do embrace creativity

As tempting as it may be to get swept up in the new and shiny, never forget the primacy of an idea. A simple and clear idea will always stand out from the crowd regardless of the medium. Being first to use a technology is not a substitute for an idea.

Your choice of medium should never be simply because it's new. Digital and connected technologies have created new ways of connecting with your audience, but creativity is always key to making an impression.


This article originally appeared in The Sunday Business Post


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