smartphones

Internet Deserts Text in Favor of Video, Audio and Animation

The internet has swung from text-heavy to video, audio and animation. Have you kept pace or are you becoming a dinosaur when it comes to reaching your audience where they are watching?

The internet has swung from text-heavy to video, audio and animation. Have you kept pace or are you becoming a dinosaur when it comes to reaching your audience where they are watching?

Audio and video content are rapidly overtaking text as the internet converts into a dominantly visual media. Unless you aspire to become a modern dinosaur, take note.

Apps, podcasts and YouTube videos are supplanting web pages and blogs. Mobile devices have morphed into broadcast cameras and digital editing booths. Videos attract the most views on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Online gaming is ubiquitous.

But the trend runs far deeper. Realtors, among others, employ virtual reality to allow homebuyers to scout potential houses. Apple iPhone X recognize your face. Digital assistants obey verbal commands to surround us with our music playlists or uncover long lost recipes.

It shouldn’t be surprising because pictures have always spoken louder than words. Ex-presidential secretary Ron Porter’s record of spousal abuse was known when he was appointed, but didn’t become a disqualification for employment until pictures surfaced showing an ex-wife with a black eye.

A special edition in The New York Times recalled the internet began as a text-heavy communications channel. That was all the bandwidth of the time could handle. “Suddenly the script flipped,” wrote Farhad Manjoo, “Now it’s often easier to communicate through images and sounds than through text.”

Imagery pairs better with shorter attention spans – and with our intrinsic ability to see first. We remember more of what we see than what we hear or read. That’s just how our brains are wired.

Wider availability of audio and video editing tools means more people, especially more young people, are familiar with constructing visual and audio content. That influences and informs audiences to expect information packages with a higher degree of presentational values. Visual communications usually dress up better than text.

What you can’t photograph or capture on video, you can animate. Cartoon characters, special effects, visual origami and out-of-this-world imagery can captivate. Animation tools are increasingly available to ever younger designers. The art of animation also continues to arc closer to the science of computer technology.

Online advertisers are following the crowd, spending more resources on video, audio and visual content. Why not with stats like this: YouTube says viewers in 2017 watched 1 billion hours of videos, averaging two hours per day. About 70 million Americans listen to five hours of podcasts per week. More than 800 million people use Instagram for 30 minutes a day. Netflix plans to invest $8 billion and Apple $1 billion in original content.

The #MeToo movement has shown once again how powerful a social media hashtag campaign can become. President Trump parlayed his often audacious and politically incorrect Twitter feed into an election victory by rallying and activating a base of supporters. 

There are societal casualties. There are rising fears of online addiction. The line between fact and fiction, reality and alt-reality has been blurred, much like George Orwell predicted in his dystopian novel 1984. Images can easily be doctored, challenging viewers to detect whether what they see is real or fake. Virtual “reality” could take false imagery to a whole new level. But those challenges exist in text, too. Think Mein Kampf

All this should be enough to convince you to get busy about video and audio content. Right? Right.

Going Mobile to Engage Employees

Employees, like everyone else, are constantly on their smartphones, so capitalize on their addiction to communicate important internal information.We complain people are constantly on their smartphones, even at work. Hint: This could be a channel worth considering to communicate to your own employees.

The rise of mobile communications is acknowledged in the marketing department, but too often overlooked in the internal communications department. If you can reach customers instantly, why not your own workers?

Mobile communications don't have to replace an effective intranet, but they could add vigor — and clicks — to your internal website. The email blast to employees could be as simple as a heads up to new content on the intranet.

However, there is no need to limit yourself to a mobile paging service. Your emails can be self-contained messages that include visual assets and links that attract employee interest.

Targeting Your Audience Via Social Media

While social media has become increasingly popular with almost every demographic, there is still a lot of room for zeroing in on the audience you want to reach.

Pinterest has roared into the galaxy of social media superstars as a female favorite. Its online metaphor of boards and pins creates an organized visual bouquet of everything from recipes to architectural designs.

Brands are flocking to Pinterest because of its high degree of audience interaction. People can track boards that interest them without being friends. It's about content as much as relationships.

If you have a product aimed at a female audience, Pinterest is a smart place to be.

Matt Wilson, writing for Ragan.com, describes the success of Major League Baseball's Fan Cave, which has emerged as much more than an inviting New York location to watch baseball games.

On the third day the Fan Cave opened, it held an online contest to see who could pitch a perfect game in MLB 2011. It attracted tons of tweets, Wilson says. Now there is a full-time video crew at the Fan Cave to record celebrity and player drop-ins, which are posted on the Fan Cave website. A contest was held to name cave dwellers that drew 22,000 applicants and whittled down to 50 "finalists" who were asked to campaign for themselves in their respective hometowns.

"It was like having 50 PR firms out there promoting your initiative," a MLB official tells Wilson.

The goal was to interest a younger audience in baseball, and it has worked. MLB says its Fan Cave audience is 17 to 18 years younger than the average fan that goes to games. Just as important, 35 percent of the Fan Cave audience "likes" or shares content, reflecting a high level of engagement compared to other sports leagues.

Smartphone usage is skyrocketing, especially among African-American and Hispanic users. Several research studies indicate minority groups have embraced online shopping through mobile devices at nearly double the rate of the Caucasian population in the United States, offering a clear opportunity for marketers trying to reach those audiences.

Marissa Ellis, writing on the Madame Noire blog, reports "21 percent of African-Americans utilize their phone to engage in online shopping, reading product reviews and maintaining a shopping list, compared to only 13 of white shoppers."

"Don't think the industry hasn't taken notice," Ellis adds.