An effective communication strategy starts with a clear brand identity by defining clear boundaries and compromises your brand will not take in the marketplace. Based on that, understanding whether context, formats, and scale are in line with your business message to prevent a loss of identity.
What business communication is about?
One of the key tenets of content syndication is you take a piece of content, break it down into small parts, and spread it around several platforms when you do that you amplify your message.
- Context: What kind of behaviors does this type of communication and platform incentivize?
- Format: What format is available on that platform?
- And scale: How fast can a message spread on the platform, given the context and format?
In this article, I want to highlight some thoughts hanging in my mind about communication for business.
Let me tell you why.
Clear brand identity? It’s about what you’re not about
Usually, a clear brand identity starts by identifying the core values. And that is fine.
But in reality, a strong brand identity starts by setting clear boundaries around what you’re not about.
Therefore, make sure to define the compromise your brand is not willing to take in the marketplace and make sure you comprise that in your message and treasure it as the most valued asset.
For instance, “FourWeekMBA is not about quick business education for the sake of it; it’s about the minimum dose of business education that leads to action, rather than paralysis.”
So from a negative statement, a positive outcome is born.
The message is the context
A message has meaning based on its context it sits.
Communication between two people, it’s not the same as a group chat, where more complex social dynamics kick in.
Therefore, when communicating, it’s critical to understand the context the message is getting delivered because the same message delivered through different contexts changes the meaning.
The same words spoken within different contexts are not the same message!
If you are at a company retreat and you’re giving a motivational talk to your employees, that might be well received and understood in that context (remember, you might be sharing the same company’s culture).
The same speech recorded and shared across social media can be disastrous.
Not only will the communication change from one to a few (the boss and its employees) to many (people sharing it on social media) but the message get out of the context it was thought for, thus changing its whole meaning.
When that happens, things can get messy. That is why it might be better to avoid any sort of communication there, rather than wanting to be “innovative” yet risking a complete disaster.
The format is the message
Another element to take into account is the format.
An article can be summarized in a post. But while an article can conceive several ideas, a post will communicate a single, clear idea.
That is why taking the same message to spread it across different platforms won’t work.
Sometimes, a message can be adapted to several formats, but that is not always the case.
For instance, an article can be adjusted and summarized in a LinkedIn post.
However, a LinkedIn post to work has to have certain features that make it aligned with the platform dynamics.
For instance, on LinkedIn, a short story might work better to conceive the idea of the article.
In short, if you have a short story within the article, you want to start from there to amplify the article.
Therefore, the question becomes whether using a format that a platform makes available (on Twitter, for instance, tweets and tweetstorms work well, on Instagram, stories go viral, and on TikTok, duets spread quickly) is in line with your communication style.
You can adjust the message to fit the format without using its essence.
But remember that if the message scales, the more it does, the more it might change its original meaning.
Are you ready to take that risk?
A tweetstorm is not a blog post
According to some, the first tweetstorm appeared maybe when venture capitalist Marc Andresseen broke the boundaries of Twitter’s 140 characters a new format on a new platform was born.
While a tweetstorm might seem just like a short-form article, it’s a completely different form of communication, and that’s due to the scaling of the message.
When a tweetstorm gets released, the fact that its length is that of a short-form article might trick you into believing it has the same property. Yet they are not the same thing.
A tweetstorm is a one to many, only at the moment, it gets shared.
Yet at the moment that spreads, that same tweetstorm will become a many-to-many communication, and the message you once controlled and it was yours will be adjusted to the scale it reaches.
Thus, if you have expressed an idea that is prone to be understood by a small group of people, are you sure that the tweetstorm is the best place to start?
In short, to keep the same property of the message, probably a newsletter would do the job way better.
Network effects and scaling
When a message scales, it changes its core properties.
That also implies a change of meaning on the other side.
That is why it’s important to understand how prone a message is to scale, given the context, format, and platform where it gets delivered.
A blog post has a different scaling propensity than a Twitter post or a TikTok video.
A newsletter, for instance, is usually a one-to-one communication and remains so up to a certain extent (unless you launch the same message to hundreds of thousands of people).
Why does it all matter?
Context, format, and scale influence your communication, and based on the message you want to deliver, it’s essential to know what you’re doing to prevent disasters.
Because while we all want to communicate on the web, and most of us do at an amateurish level, it’s also important if you’re building a business, to understand the hidden risk of communication done wrong.
- When communicating, you are explaining to people your identity, why you exist, and what your business is about. This helps to build your business’s personality, what marketers call a brand.
- A brand is valuable as it enables a business to scale beyond the person who created it. In short, people can also relate to an abstract entity, called a brand, as soon as they can perceive this abstract entity has human-like features.
- This demands your communication flow align with what you want to conceive. The era of digital platforms seems to demand brands to be there just for the presence’s sake (everyone is there, so I must be too).
- That makes small brands, but also larger ones, fall into the trap of losing their message just because they adapt without too much thinking about the format the platform offers.
- We saw in this article how context (what kind of behaviors the platform incentivizes?), format (what format is available on that platform?), and scale (how fast a message can spread on the platform?) could change the meaning of your message altogether.
This brings a loss in translation, which can translate into a loss of brand equity.
Therefore, before committing to all the platforms out there, ask yourself:
- Is this platform in line with my brand identity?
- Is there a format available on the platform which will enable us to preserve the meaning of the message?
- How prone is the message to scale? And if it does, would it lose its original meaning?
- Importance of Clear Brand Identity: An effective communication strategy starts with a clear brand identity, including defining boundaries and compromises the brand will not make in the marketplace.
- Understanding Context, Format, and Scale: Communication strategies need to consider the context in which the message is delivered, the format available on the platform, and the potential scale at which the message might spread.
- Brand Identity and Boundaries: A strong brand identity involves setting clear boundaries around what the brand is not about. This helps in preserving the brand’s message and preventing it from getting lost.
- The Message and Context: The meaning of a message is influenced by the context in which it is delivered. Different platforms and situations can change the interpretation of the message.
- Adapting the Message Format: Messages may need to be adapted to fit the format of different platforms, but it is essential to ensure the essence of the message remains intact.
- Scaling of Messages: As a message scales and reaches a broader audience, its original meaning might change. Understanding the scaling propensity of a message is crucial to prevent any unintended consequences.
- Understanding Network Effects: Different communication formats have different scaling propensities. Blog posts, newsletters, tweets, and videos all have different impacts when they reach a larger audience.
- Importance of Communication Done Right: Effective communication is vital for building and maintaining a brand’s personality and identity. Miscommunication can lead to a loss of brand equity.
- Alignment with Brand Identity: Before using various platforms for communication, businesses should consider if the platform aligns with their brand identity and message.
- Preserving Message Meaning: Choosing the right format on each platform is essential to preserve the original meaning of the message and prevent any loss in translation.
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