Interactive strategy must change over time

Once upon a time a little website known as ‘Friends Reunited’ swept the world with the promise of hooking up with old flames, or finding those lost school friends and having a reunion.

Then came a gamut of others including ‘MySpace’, ‘FaceBook’, ‘Bebo’, ‘Orkut’, and ‘LinkedIn’ to name but a few.

On top of this, household name brands and government are now creating their own micro-communities around issues, products, artists, business, and the list goes on…

If one was to attempt to integrate with every social community on the planet it would be a full time job just letting everyone know what you are doing, and where you have been (certainly by the time you got back to the top of the list).

Waiting for the dust to settle

In some sense large brands and particularly government are seemingly tentative and cautious in their approach to social media, preferring instead to wait until the dust settles. Sadly, it doesn’t seem that the dust is ever going to settle. So how to navigate through this dynamic and changing landscape (or seascape with icebergs as the case may be)?

The trick is to have an overarching strategy that informs all your decisions and implementations of content. In this way there is continuity and careful deployment of messages and conversation in the places where the target demographic is operating.

Humans change, and so should the relationship strategy

Much like the ‘hippest clubs’ of our youth, there was never one place that was the definitive all-time location to be. As humans age and make a logical progression through the years, there are different priorities and criteria for meaningful engagement.

A successful interactive strategy will factor in the changing needs of the target audience and grow with them as they take their particular journey. Meanwhile, a new strategy embraces the new generation and follows nurtures them using new tools and preferences. The brand’s message and persona needs to remain consistent nonetheless.

If your target market is broad, you may need an overarching strategy which also guides various subsets of the strategy.

An intangible demographic, the entire USA

Consider 2008 democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who needed to reach an almost intangible demographic that is in essence the entire democratic voting population of the United States of America. Their campaigns by necessity must provide a meaningful engagement with a diverse range of platforms and social networks. Their platform choices will naturally reflect those markets that will most obviously contribute to their cause or campaign. Yet simply having a presence on these platforms is not enough. These communities require transparency and especially expect a commitment from that brand, individual, or organisation in engaging in a meaningful way with the community.

Commitment from top to bottom

Embarking with communication and interactive strategies in the new millennium will require commitment from all levels of the organisation, including stakeholders in the boardroom. Without buy-in from the top, and a guiding strategic approach, any foray into social media tools is nothing more than a campaign specific marketing exercise, which will not build the kind of long term brand allegiance and relationship that is so important to the consumers of the new millennium.

Paul Grant

Paul Grant is Healthcare Engagement Strategist with global consultancy Creation Healthcare, where he leads digital behaviour research studies and advises healthcare clients on engagement strategies. He has been providing strategic insight solutions and professional services to the world's leading biopharmaceutical and healthcare organizations, helping them to find appropriate pathways to engagement within regulatory frameworks.